The #1 reason you'll fail as an entrepreneur

a roaring fire

Let's skip all the intro palaver and get straight to it:

The #1 reason you'll fail as an entrepreneur is you don't really want to be an entrepreneur.

Hold on, hold on — I can actually hear your spine straightening through space and time (it sounds weirdly like dominos clicking together; click clack).

But I'm not writing a rah rah! challenge here to get you fired up. I'm talking the real deal. The #1 cause of failure. (Although maybe we shouldn't call it failure when it achieves the objective…?)

The majority of people who say "I want to run my own business," really just want a better job. They want a bigger paycheck, and more of the fun stuff, and less of the gruntwork. They want more freedom, and less responsibility. They want less accountability. They want less negative feedback.

All they really want is less aggravation.

They want things taken away: the annoying coworker, the meetings, the clueless sales team, whatever.

There's nothing wrong with that!

And running your own business certainly can do away with those things.

But entrepreneurship doesn't just take things away.  

Entrepreneurship gives you more power, and more freedom. It gives you more joy — that joy that comes from helping others, from seeing the direct impact of your work, and from being able to do that work without six layers of management whittling it down to shavings on the workroom floor.

And entrepreneurship gives you more weight on your shoulders, more challenges, more negative feedback, more responsibility, more accountability.

Entrepreneurship gives you direct contact with reality: Do people want it? Will they pay for it? Will they like it? You can't escape it; this is what your days will be made of. This is the stuff you are shielded from in nearly all jobs, for good or ill. (I say "ill").

Entrepreneurship certainly can be less annoying much of the time — even most of the time! — because it gives you the power and freedom to make choices, like who you work with.

But… those decisions are yours to make, and yours alone: Nobody can tell you what to do. Nobody can be blamed if you choose wrong, it's 100% on you. You can't pretend to choose. You can't pretend to work. You can't make excuses; there's nobody to listen to them, nobody with more power to grant you absolution.

Nobody else is going to show up, help out, take things off your plate, clean up your mess.

You can't blame anyone or anything else if you don't start, finish, ship.

You're the final stop. It's all you, baby.

That's what it means to have true power; that's the upside, and the down.

And for some of us, this isn't a deterrent… it's heaven.

Please give me the power.

So. Do you really want to be an entrepreneur?

To build your own business? To be the one with all the power and all the responsibility?

Here's a little litmus test.

You're ripe for entrepreneurship if…

  • You're tired of being stifled.
  • You're exhausted by interference.
  • You're burnt out because you're the only one who actually wants to, actually, y'know, do the work.
  • You've grown to hate "hand-offs."
  • You're sick to death of shooting that work off into the void and never knowing where it lands, or even if it lands.
  • It feels like what you work on doesn't really exist, and doesn't really matter.
  • You long to get your hands dirty, to really dig your fingers into the real stuff of work and life.
  • You're the kind who'd rather take control of a project — making yourself responsible for everything — than watch it get done the wrong way…
  • …and maybe you do this for somebody else, who doesn't appreciate it, and it's sapping your will to live.

If you're nodding your head… it's because a regular job is a fundamental mismatch with what you really want.

What you really want — what your soul is crying out for — is to really build something, something real, to help people directly, with your own two hands. The kind of thing you can only do when you're the one with the power. (You don't have to know what that something is, though!)

That makes you an entrepreneur.

That makes you someone who wants power and everything that comes with it.

You've probably noticed that I haven't talked about the money, or stress, or working hours. Why? Because none of these things are unique to being an entrepreneur; you can earn a lot or very little, and work long hours, and stress yourself to death at a job, too!

When you're in charge, the level of stress and the hours you work are heavily dependent on the kind of business you build, and the way you engage with your work in the time you have. In other words, design choices. Yet another responsibility that lands in your lap, and nobody else's.

That's power. Real, unvarnished power… real, unvarnished freedom, and everything that entails.

That's what turns people off.

Or on.

Which one are you?