Entrepreneurship is hard

Entrepreneurship is hard.

We are in that part of the VC cycle when entrepreneurship is again “hot” and the popular media is glorifying start-ups. But, I don’t think it’s all that easy.

Here’s how hard it can be. I today met with a young entrepreneur. He is from Estonia. He arrived in the U.S. a few months ago, and through a lot of effort, is working on a new idea and has convinced five developers to work with him for free.

I asked him where he lives. He laughed and said that he was couch-surfing. I asked him: “No, really, where are you staying?” His answer: “I am sleeping on people’s couches and move around.”

I asked him what he did for money. He says he is out of cash. He was house-sitting for someone on vacation. That person’s car was towed under his watch, and it ultimately cost him $500. His father is retired and his mother doesn’t make much money.

To get to my meeting with him, he took 2 trains and 2 buses. It took him 3 hours.  This person has been living a spartan life for four years. He boot-strapped two previous start-ups that did not succeed.

I gave him all the money I had in my wallet and will be introducing him to a potential customer. I like his idea and hope it works out for him.

So, as Facebook prepares to go public and the popular press glorifies the start-up world, please consider that entrepreneurship is hard?  We often want to focus just on the lucky few, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs are toiling away in uncertain circumstances.  These “99 percent” of entrepreneurs are pursuing a mission that they love. It helps them get through the tough times. Sometimes the tough days don’t improve.

So, before you make the leap to entrepreneurship, really make sure you have conviction about what you are doing and why you are doing it.


4 thoughts on “Entrepreneurship is hard

  1. Great story Jo. I often have people tell me how much they admire how much risk I’ve taken doing a startup, to which I answer: well, I was funded. The real people who take risks are the ones like the person you met, who’ll self-fund all the way. Gotta admire that.

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