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Why I think everyone should be an entrepreneur at least once in life

Categories: Career Talk, Entrepreneurship, Your life


I am writing this while sitting on the bus, on my way back home from a day business trip to NYC. My feet are blistered despite the half-a-box of Band-Aids that I used up during the day of walking/running from one meeting to another. My right eye is bloodshot because I have completely failed to get any sleep this week (OK, last week and the week before that also.) My voice is coarse from all the talking and my right hand is cramping from all the typing. I have a fugly-looking red welt in my right shoulder from carrying my enormous laptop around all day. And I am too scared to look in my inbox because I’ve not yet gone on one business trip when either (1) there wasn’t some crisis on the site or (2) something going on at home.

And this was one of the better days.

You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be totally exhausted and wiped out, but the reverse is true — you will be totally exhausted and wiped out as an entrepreneur. I’ve been doing this full-time for over a year now and as I’ve written about here before, it’s been, by a huge degree, the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my career, and to be honest, in my life. When I immigrated to the US with my family I went through hell, but I was 14, I didn’t have a family to provide for, and after the kids at my school stopped making fun of me and trashing my locker on a daily basis, and my father got a job so we could go off welfare, things got easier. I’ve yet to meet an entrepreneur whose life is easy.

And yet — here comes my BIG thought of the day — I think everyone should be an entrepreneur at some point in their life. I don’t mean that everyone should start a company. Being an entrepreneur, to me, means creating something from scratch, starting something that wasn’t there before, taking an idea and making it real. There are many degrees of entrepreneurship, from dedicating yourself to starting a business full-time to writing a book while you work your regular day gig. But I firmly believe that ALL forms of entrepreneurship require a great degree of creativity, stamina, ability to pick yourself up after getting rejected, and learning to be an optimist when the odds are stacked against you. And in my not-so-humble opinion, those are the things worth living through and growing through.

I’ll be honest with you, some days I don’t drink my own Kool-aid. I start to miss my old job, with its cushy paycheck and fancy office. I remember the good days, when I felt like one sharp cookie strutting around in my suit and patent leather high heels, and compare them to the bad days when I feel really stupid learning my way around running a company. Apples to oranges, but I do it anyway.

And then I go to have lunch with someone who knew me in my prior life. And invariably they tell me that I look and talk differently, more energized, more alive. They say they’ve never seen me like that. They say that they don’t notice the blood-shot eyes because my face lights up when I talk about what I do. “They” are right.

I made a presentation recently to a group of investors and one of them emailed me afterwards. This guy is a super-duper successful entrepreneur who has started and sold several great companies. He wrote to me that he remembers this part of entrepreneurship, the early brutal years when it’s truly about day-to-day survival for you and your business, and that he misses it. “The high of getting through it is addictive,” he wrote. I printed out the email and put it in my planner.

Hi, my name is Nataly, and I am an entrepreneurship addict.

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8 comments so far...

  • That is great info Nataly. I am just starting my business and it is very scary for me. I am excited though. I know that I will have to burn midnight oil on getting it off the ground. I am really enjoying this website. It is very helpful and encouraging.

    Kim  |  June 25th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

  • Great blog and I love the honesty. Starting a home business is hard hard work. I’m a mom of three small children, work FT in Corporate America and have a PT home business. My goal is to fire Corporate America. It’s a balancing act and sometimes I think I’m crazy trying to manage it all. However, I do know that some day soon, it will be worth it!

    Lisa Willard  |  June 25th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

  • Great post. I’m on my 2nd venture and I have to agree. It is such a different experience…especially for women in high-tech. I recently took a job to support my ‘entrepreneurial addiction’ and you can see my post about it here:

    Entrepreneurship is not a pretty path. It has ups and downs and you have to look at it as constant learning…education in the school of hard knocks. Most people ‘fail’ by current US/world standards when measured by monetary success but I would venture to say that most entrepreneurs who live to tell the tell succeed because the tales they can tell and the people they can teach from their experiences can be so much more valuable than working in a ’safe’ environment.

    I totally agree that everyone should try it at least once…just to get a taste of living life on the edge. As women I think one of our big problems is being hard on ourselves and setting higher expectations on ourselves than honestly the rest of the world probably does.

    Keep up the great work! Just think about the tales you can tell no matter if it ‘works out’ or not and think about the people/women you can share them with.

    Aruni Gunasegaram  |  June 25th, 2008 at 8:19 pm

  • I honestly don’t think of the the cojones to do what you do. I get exhausted thinking about it — and one of the best thing about a high powered career is the thrill of reward…I know how much longer that takes to achieve in an entrepreneurial situation.

    You have spirit, fire, fierce intelligence and crazy drive. I’m cheering you along madly.

    Now, go get some ballet flats and a macbook. :-)

    Kristin  |  June 25th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

  • I totally agree. There is something addictive about it. Thank god it’s addictive, otherwise I would have given up long time ago.

    Vera Babayeva  |  June 25th, 2008 at 9:26 pm

  • I have my side business in which I really need to be more of an entrepeneaur, but lately with all of the music and renaissance faires coming up in my life, I’m thinking about taking a plunge, creating a “functional” resume, and scared out of my wits. I always love networking with people from my past, present and future.

    Any musicians agree? Am I stuck in a 9 - 5 day job forever? Hopefully these Renaissance Faires take off, and we can make money doing that.

    Wish me luck…and hope you can come to the Faires….see my profile page!

    Gia  |  June 26th, 2008 at 3:54 pm

  • This is a great post for folks stepping into the entrepreneurial world. I completely concur with it having jst set up my own business from scratch last year. Thanks.

    Dolls Clothes Gal  |  June 27th, 2008 at 2:03 pm

  • I totally agree that being an entrepreneur is creating something from scratch and making those brilliant ideas come to reality. Great post, Nataly. You really such an entrepreneurship addict.

    Patrice  |  August 1st, 2009 at 6:45 pm

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