5 (sarcastic) Truths About Entrepreneurship
That No One Will Tell You
My cousin Brian recently posted an article titled 5 Ways To Test An Entrepreneurial Idea. It was full of
cute and inspiring ideas on how to succeed in the world of small business ownership. “Research an
analogy, contact your prospective clients” and my personal favorite “visualize it.” When I read the last
one I choked on my cup of Ramen Noodles that I was slurping down for lunch.
What really bothered me is that the concepts are nice, but they are not forged in the relentless heat of
reality. I had the impression that the article was penned from the comforts of a corporate cubicle than
the tough trenches of business ownership. I’ve been self employed for 16 years, have an MBA and can
tell you that you can “visualize it” all you want. It won’t pay the bills. However, a lot of hard work and
then some more hard work just might.
Instead of passing on fanciful small business strategies that only work on paper, I’ve decided to be
completely honest and pass on 5 (somewhat sarcastic) truths about entrepreneurship that no one will
tell you. Buckle up.
1. If you enjoy not knowing where your next pay check will come from, entrepreneurship is for
you! The time will (slowly) come when you are getting nice checks, and it makes you feel good.
Then you start to pay the employees, rent, inventory, and the phone system that keeps crashing
on you. What’s left over is depressing. Quickly you check the numbers to see where it all went
and for the first time you realize that your secretary makes more money than you do. I realize
that this little nugget of information is probably a buzzkill for most of you, but small business
ain’t for the faint of heart. Read on.
2. You may be the CEO but you’re the secretary, IT guy and janitor too. What a luxury it must be
to drop off work assignments so that you have time to golf with your buddies in the afternoons.
Ohh wait, you ARE the staff! If you’ve never been much of an accountant, network engineer or
HR person, you will be.
3. You office will be open more hours than a 7-11. If you’re serious about becoming successful be
prepared to be the first one to the office in the morning and the last one to turn the lights out at
night. Have you ever heard that song “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” It probably is, just not for
4. You are unique which makes you weird to everyone else. There are few of us out there who
are independent, driven, and inspired to live the American Dream. Congratulations, and
welcome to the club. While this makes you incredibly unique to us, it means that you are
completely out of touch with others. You should remember that there are actual people out
there who are satisfied punching a clock, collecting vacation hours and calling in sick so that they
can golf in the afternoon with their buddies. Over time we start to see each other as alien life
5. You will be thought an idiot until you start making money. I only have one book, The Little
Red Hen that is mandatory reading for my staff. Business ownership is exactly like the story. No
one wants to plant the wheat or harvest the wheat or grind the wheat. But when the bread
comes out of the oven, people will appear out of thin air. The lesson? Find those people who
are hard working like you, who roll up their sleeves and just “do” the dirty work. And because
you have read this far I’m going to offer you a final piece of advice. These people do exist but
are rarely found amongst family and friends. Your dream, your passion is not theirs. Accept it,
appreciate it, move on and remember the Little Red Hen
While my 5 truths may take some of the wind out of your sails, I can also tell you that there are few
things more satisfying than building your own little empire. There is a sense of satisfaction and pride in
watching your dream become your reality. As Americans we have a genetic propensity to challenge the
status quo and to stretch boundaries, limits and imaginations. It’s what makes us unique.
Entrepreneurship can be the biggest challenge of your career but it can be the most rewarding too.
“Visualize it” when it falls apart. Roll up your sleeves and get dirty when you are ready to succeed.
Joel Nielsen is the founder of MediaShark, LLC in Salt Lake City, Utah. A chronic entrepreneur, Mr. Nielsen has 16
years of experience consulting thousands of businesses in Marketing, Management and Social Media optimization.
He has a BS in Business Marketing from the University of Phoenix and a double Master's degree in Business
Administration (MBA) and Sports Administration (SAFM) from Ohio University. He has been a guest speaker to
both National and International audiences. Mr. Nielsen recently completed his Six Sigma Certification through the
University of Utah.