Ever go on a date with a self-proclaimed entrepreneur? The ring of “entrepreneur” on his or her social media profile sounded sexy and exciting right? It showed ambition. And it meant he or she would soon be raking in millions. Over the past few years, entrepreneurship has become a fad for people of all ages, and in particular for millennials.
TV shows and other media have made entrepreneurship seem like the most enviable of professions, and a guaranteed way to impress your peers. Colleges all over the world continue to invest millions of dollars to launch entrepreneurship programs and construct buildings exclusively for these programs. The allure of entrepreneurship is still thriving. But is entrepreneurship as glamorous as it appears from the outside?
To get some behind the scenes insight into entrepreneur life, I spoke with Dominique Broadway, personal finance expert and millennial entrepreneur based in Washington D.C.
Finding the Path of Least Resistance
While the stories of successful entrepreneurs often get romanticized, entrepreneurship is far from a quick or easy road to riches for most people. Building a successful business requires major sacrifice, patience and diligent financial planning. And it also requires willingness to be broke in order to get rich. It can take years before entrepreneurs bring in enough business income to pay themselves at all, let alone a decent salary.
But with some strategic decision-making, it’s possible to make the roller coaster ride a lot smoother. If you have the resources you need, Dominique says don’t wait to get started on your dream. Otherwise, she recommends starting your business on the side before calling it quits on your day job. Wait to leave your job until your business starts bringing in enough income to support you. And make major financial decisions prior to setting out on your own.
Also consider the industry of your business. Certain industries inherently have lower startup costs, such as service-based businesses like Dominique’s where all she needed to get started was a computer. In contrast, brick and mortar businesses like restaurants and boutiques require significant startup capital for equipment, inventory, leases etc. While there’s a wide variety of business financing options out there, requirements can be restrictive and application processes tedious. So, be prepared to self-fund your business.
Dominique also emphasizes starting a business based on passion and experience. Since Dominique had been a stockbroker and was already a licensed financial services professional, starting a personal finance consulting business made sense. Many won’t find success if they pursue entrepreneurship just because it’s trendy. The reality of entrepreneurship is long hours, lots of pressure and ups and downs, and potential financial hardship particularly in the beginning. So, be sure you really, really love your business’s mission and the industry it’s in.
It’s Ok Not to Be an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. But what if you still want the satisfaction of creating something that’s yours, of building a legacy, of having a positive impact in the world, of controlling your moneymaking destiny and of being your own boss? Dominique reminds us that it’s ok to excel at a job you love, even if you don’t own the business. She also says that being your own boss isn’t often the reality. As an entrepreneur, your clients become your boss, as well as any investors you may have.
If you aren’t cut out to be an entrepreneur, maybe intrapreneurship is for you. This means innovating at the company where you work. Develop a new product. Launch a new initiative. Use the resources that are already at your disposal. And don’t forget about side hustles. Instead of venturing out fulltime as an entrepreneur, you can always make your hobby into a profitable micro-business.
As long as you’re fully aware of the realities of being an entrepreneur, Dominique says go for it! Otherwise, it’s not worth risking your sanity and your bank account. Don’t worry, the people who matter in your life will think you’re sexy and exciting no matter what you do!
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