by Yvonne English
“Do What You Love, and You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life” and Other Stupid Things People Say About Entrepreneurship
I have the privilege of teaching entrepreneurship to undergrad students. One thing that really upsets me is when one of those students ends up in my office in tears because of the pressure that society puts on them to “follow their passion”. They get so worked up about trying to figure out what their passion is that they turn down solid internships and first job opportunities that might allow them to explore new areas which, ironically, might actually lead them to their passion. The students often become fearful, anxious, and depressed. Being a little (ahem) older than my students, I can attest that this pressure has spread to other generations as well. I’ve decided to dedicate this post to explain why certain common sayings about entrepreneurship need to disappear from our vernacular completely.
“Do What You Love, and You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life”
Does anyone ACTUALLY believe that there is a path available here on Earth on which you will literally NEVER have a bump in the road? I left the corporate world in 2011 to follow my proverbial entrepreneurial bliss, and, while it was incredibly rewarding, it was also incredibly difficult. Don’t get my wrong, I’m not saying to do something that you hate, I am merely debunking the myth that doing work that you love will be easy every day. It’s not…and, believe it or not, that’s a good thing. You’ll grow and thrive in ways that you never thought possible by following your own bliss. (Just be prepared to work!)
“Being an Entrepreneur Means Being Your Own Boss”
Anyone who owns his own business will tell you that being an entrepreneur means that you answer to many “bosses”. How can this be?!?! (Gasp!) Well, the buck stops with you. This means that you answer to clients, employees, strategic partners, and vendors, just to name a few. All of these people will demand your time and attention. You, as a good leader and businessperson, will often be called on to serve the needs of others. The silver lining is that you get to CHOOSE these people. You rarely get to choose your boss in an organization, but, when you’re the boss, you DO get to choose the people that you serve and work with on a daily basis (and you can fire bad clients!). It’s a beautiful thing. THAT, my friends, should be the common saying that finally replaces the old “Be Your Own Boss” adage.
“Having Your Own Business Means You Are Totally in Control of Your Own Schedule”
Inventor, Investor, and Shark Tank star Lori Greiner has been quoted as saying, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week in order to avoid working 40 hours a week.” While this seems contradictory, it’s how we spend those 80 hours that makes all of the difference. People sometime thinks of an entrepreneur as a person with unlimited freedom. False. Entrepreneurship can be grueling at times – demanding all of your time and attention. Many entrepreneurs struggle with life balance as they are launching their companies. But, before I scare you off completely, allow me to share a secret with you – most entrepreneurs love their businesses so much that it isn’t a sacrifice to work this much. Also, being an entrepreneur could be your path to more freedom in the future once the business is established, and don’t forget about the tremendous potential for the financial upside. Entrepreneurship truly allows you to enjoy the fruits of your own labor.
“Entrepreneurship is Too Risky – It’s Better to Work for A Large Stable Company”
In the corporate world, especially during the Great Recession, I saw round after round of layoffs within the companies where I worked. These companies employed tens of thousands of people. As a director within a large corporation, I myself had to lay off more than one person. Layoffs are devastating, and, most of the time, the people who are laid off are completely surprised.
When you work for large “established” companies, your future is in the hands of a management team several levels above you who, most of the time, have never even met you. You’re an employee number with a job title to the people who make layoff decisions. THAT, my friends, is risky. Yes, entrepreneurs fail…all of the time, but they should never be surprised. When you start losing customers or the bank account is getting low, you have time to prepare yourself. You can pivot your business model, take on part-time work, or decide to do something different. Yes, you may end up in the same place as someone who is laid off at some point, but you will have had more control over your own fate in the process. I’m not saying entrepreneurship isn’t risky. It is…but so is putting your future in someone else’s hands.
“Entrepreneurship is Awesome”
This one is true. If you’re realistic about your expectations, entrepreneurship can open doors and opportunities while allowing you to make a real difference in the world.
I try to end every class that I teach with my own mantra, “Go out and make the world a better place.” Entrepreneurship is a great way to do that.
Did I miss any? What saying about entrepreneurship would you like to eradicate?
Yvonne English is a self-professed startup geek who lives in Western Pennsylvania. Having founded several companies of her own, she has also coached multiple startups through raising millions, dealing with founders’ dilemmas, and maneuvering through acquisitions. She loves working with founders who are passionate about making the world a better place and serves a portfolio of startup clients that match that criteria.
Before finding her niche in entrepreneurship, Yvonne spent time in the corporate world in Canada and the US. While she made some great friends and learned a lot, she couldn’t come to terms with a lifetime career in a large company. After much self reflection, she made the leap and founded a business incubator in 2010 where she coached 21 companies during her five years at the helm. She is now the Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Grove City College.
Yvonne loves technology, teaching, theatre, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family. She’s married to an amazing guy, Kyle, and has a quirky little dog who prefers to be called by her full name – Juno English.