My last blog was titled, The Journey To The Moon. Now, I want to shed some light on the dark sides of it. The dark side of the moon is the side we never see.
Entrepreneurship is extremely liberating, but it can also be extremely limiting. This blog is going to talk about some of the challenges that I have faced venturing into entrepreneurship, how I overcame (some of) them, and the unsolved mysteries.
Going to the moon was a decision. It wasn’t an accident. Consider this when thinking about starting your own business. Granted, a lot of successful businesses started as a side project or were spun off from another company, but a decision was still made to pursue it full-time.
It’s a hard decision to make. You’re literally entering into something that is almost 100% likely to fail. You might be leaving behind a stable income, your current role, and emptying your savings. Why should one make this decision?
A famous quote from John F. Kennedy is where this whole concept of “To The Moon!” came from. It was September 12, 1962, when President Kennedy delivered his speech in the Rice University football stadium, to 40,000 people. Here is the very end of the quote:
We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.
Jofhn F. Kennedy
What helped me was having an extremely supportive family that would never let me starve out, and great mentor network. I reached out to one of my mentors and now business partner after spending my last dime to try to close a deal in D.C. and he ended up wiring me some funds to get some food. Right before this, I took change from my brother’s coin jar to buy a burger from Wendy’s. It gets real.
Entrepreneurs are the only group of people crazy enough to work 80 hours a week so that they won’t have to work 40 hours a week. The first myth I want to bust about entrepreneurship (for me at least) is that I spent way more than 40 hours a week, which had me making less than minimum wage in total.
Let’s say you start a company and decide to pay yourself a modest salary of $20/hr. With a 2,080hr work year, that comes out to a yearly salary of $41,600. In reality, you’ll be working close to 80/hrs a week, with no time and a half added for overtime. There’s no overtime period.
The 2,080hr work year is now 4,160 hours. Divide that salary of $41,160 / by 4,160 and you get $10/hr. Because it’s a fixed salary, you’re not getting paid for the extra hours you put in. As a founder, you shouldn’t be trying to pay yourself first anyway, but your team.
Expect to be eating lots of ramen your first couple of years, until you start making revenue or raise capital. The positive is this, is that you will learn to live below your means. No matter what amount of money flows into your hand, you’ll learn to live like a college student for the rest of your life, which will help you retain your cash. Remember, it’s not how much you make, but how much you retain that creates your wealth.
In my last blog, I talked about opportunity cost. You’ll have constant thoughts about what you could’ve been doing if you weren’t building a company, or worse, who you could’ve been working for. Deciding to work for yourself is a public statement. It’s telling the world that you only trust your future in your own hands.
You’d think this is a good and positive message. That you’re self-sufficient. But we live in a world where others want us to be overly dependent on them. The moment you shut down your venture, it’s acquired or implodes and you look to move on, you’re going to be asked why, or what’s next. The huge risk in this is that you can end up failing, struggling to start another venture or be accepted into an established entity.
On the bright side, failed entrepreneurs are still entrepreneurs. Naval stated in a podcast that the entrepreneurial venture might fail, but the willing entrepreneur never will. Trust that you’ll eventually find a home, and be the exact cog that some venture somewhere needs for the gears to turn. Whether you build it, or it builds you.
Apllo 13: The Failure.
Part II Next Week