I’m sick and tired of many people’s mistaken impression of what entrepreneurship actually is. It all started a few years ago with the Facebook movie and now we have a big problem. Too many people have the wrong idea. The douchebaggery quotient in the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” is so high a few non entrepreneur friends have told me that they think there’s something innate about startups that attracts massive douchebaggery. That used to be the domain of bankers. Now its startups. So I’m here to set the record straight.
Entrepreneurship is not dressing in whatever clothes you want, coming in to work at whatever hour you’d like to work on your social app that’s going to be the new Twitter for Facebook for Instagram and if you could only get 5% of the market, you’ll be able to sell for $1.1b too! It’s not working on an idea in hopes that you can sell it one year later. It’s not easy.
It’s not getting out of bed at 12pm, going to networking events and drinking as much free crappy beer and eating lukewarm mediocre pizza and telling people you’re the CEO of the company when you’re the only one “working” on your “idea.” It’s not applying to countless incubators, contests and pitch competitions. It’s not talking about your idea that’s been in stealth mode for six months and won’t leave for another year. If ever. It’s not working on a problem that nobody has.
Real entrepreneurship solves a problem someone has…and they’ll pay you to solve it for them. Real entrepreneurship is hard. It’s a struggle. It’s like getting up each morning and walking into the kitchen and putting your hand on the hot burner. Ten minutes later, someone walks in an starts smashing your hand with a frying pan. All the while, they’re laughing at you. “You think you’re going to succeed with that product? You think you can execute that? You think you can beat the incumbent company with 1000x more employees than you?” And you just have to take it with a smile and go about your day proving the critics wrong.
But at least you get to wear the clothes you want.
Obviously there’s some days where you get to take your hand off the burner and the laughing and the smashing stop. But then you’re going to an office, convincing people to pay you for your product and shipping product. Iterating. Solving a real problem. And then you have to deal with a whole new set of laughing, smashing hurdles.
So if you’re getting into entrepreneurship to wear comfy clothes, drink free beer and eat crappy pizza at meetups and pretend you’re the founder of a $1b company when you just have an idea and think it’s worth more than a ham sandwich, you’re probably in the wrong business. And you just might be a #starthole.