Mark Suster wrote a post a few weeks ago on what it means to be a start-up entrepreneur. Mark has done both. He started companies and now is a VC so has a unique perspective from both sides of the table.
With this article he did a tremendous job of outlining both “On Being an Entrepreneur” and the roller coaster ride that being an entrepreneur is. Highly worth a read!
It has been 14 years for me now, since I was a senior in college, running Infinity Softworks with probably three to four “start-ups” all in the same company. There have been lots of highs and lots of lows. Mark says it better than most.
His list of what being an entrepeneur is to him is particularly enlightening. I did a lot of head nodding and yeps while reading it:
- Not very status oriented
- Doesn’t follow rules very well and questions authority
- Can handle high degrees of ambiguity or uncertainty
- Can handle rejection, being told “no” often and yet still have the confidence in your idea
- Very decisive. A bias toward making decisions – even when only right 70% of the time – moving forward & correcting what doesn’t work
- A high level of confidence in your own ideas and ability to execute
- Not highly susceptible to stress
- Have a high risk tolerance
- Not scared or ashamed of failure
- Can handle long hours, travel, lack of sleep and the trade-offs of having less time for hobbies & other stuff
The only major changes in the last few years has been the introduction of children in my life. I don’t do as much travel as I used to and try to take off blocks of time to spend with my girls. For instance, I try to not schedule dinner meetings so I can eat with my wife and kids each night.
I still have no hobbies (besides working). I have gotten better about getting exercise the last year and that has helped a lot. I lost almost 20 pounds last summer and have managed to keep it off this winter (so far!).
All the rest are pretty true, though, including being tone-deaf to “no”, a little anti-authoritarian and high degrees of confidence and decisiveness. As for stress… I do have a lot less hair than I used to but otherwise no big deal.
My dad and uncle run their own businesses; both of my grandfathers ran their own; two of my cousins the same. When one of my cousins was going to start his own business his wife expressed some concern to me. I laughed and said that us Freedman’s just don’t know any different!
It really is a life style.