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Exploring the Reality of Being an Entrepreneur

Posted in: Musings

Stumbled upon this Harvard Business Review story today and, no, I didn’t click just because it had the provocative phrase “entrepreneurship porn” in the headline.

Morra Aarons-Mele raises some interesting ideas in her essay, most notably: how often are entrepreneurs running from a bad situation, instead of running toward a good one. Her point is, some would-be entrepreneurs may be pursuing their startup with a fantasy vision of what owning a business will really be like as a way to escape the grind of their full-time job. They may not have a grasp of the tough reality of being an entrepreneur. (Plug: our 3-course entrepreneurship certificate gives students a real-world, immersive entrepreneurship experience so they’re not someday launching a startup with a starry-eyed outlook.) I especially loved this line from Aarons-Mele: “Starting a company doesn’t mean being freed from the grind; it means that the buck stops with you, always, even if it’s Sunday morning or Friday night.”

I’ve been in this boat at least once, of wanting to escape the 9-to-5 work world (who hasn’t?). Although I wasn’t going to quit my job to start a company; instead, I wanted to quit so I could do volunteer service, full time. While seeking advice on whether to do this, I (subconsciously, at the time) stacked the deck to get the answer I wanted by going to talk to my favorite priest. I mean, of course a priest would tell me I should quit my job and go serve the poor, while family and friends might point out the practical problems and repercussions involved with such a move. Except, alas, the priest didn’t do that; instead, he said something along the lines of, “Nothing you have said to me indicates what you want to do to serve. Spend a year figuring that out, and then we’ll talk again.” A lot changed in that year, and I will always be grateful for that priest’s sage advice.

So maybe that’s a take-away from Aarons-Mele’s article: spend some time figuring it out before making the leap. She asks, “What if 2014 could be the ‘year of working for someone else — and loving it’?” Or maybe, 2014 could be the year of exploring what it really takes to be an entrepreneur (our Meetups will give you great insight on this) so you don’t get seduced by the “entrepreneurship porn.”