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A Case Against Entrepreneurship and Pursuant of Passions

Another Daryl Lu original (powered by Microsoft PowerPoint)
Okay, if I were to really pursue the dream that made me happiest, I’d be fighting my way into Jurgen Klinsman’s squad for the World Cup coming up on Thursday. (!!!!!!!!!! Super stoked about this!) But I'm not because there's a gap in skill (maybe) and of course, the cost-benefit ratio/ opportunity costs to think about. There’s a graphic out there on the interwebs describing the crux of what most everyone falls into…
(Source: https://bobbiblogger.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/rich.jpg)
This is a good portrayal, I think, in the world of Venn-Diagrams telling you what to do. However, I think we should step back a second and assess where really you want to be. In most cases, I think it’s being happy and if you were [knock-on-wood] to pass tomorrow, would you be satisfied? Or, what regrets would you have… how do we minimize regrets?

The buzzwords today are "entrepreneurship" and "startups", and with the Hollywood flick of The Social Network about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, along with the many success stories we hear about including Snapchat’s $4B acquisition offer by Google, WhatsApps liquidity event at $19B to Zuck and Co., and others, there’s obvious stardust in our eyes to dream big. That, and we all like to think we can be billionaire bosses. The truth is, though, we can’t and most aren’t.

Having spent the better part of the last few years making no money on a startup (even as a tech firm with low costs, there’s still some costs to cover) and then shuttering, we’re still one of sooo many stories of unfortunate failure and like I said, no money. You know how media goes, though… in the world of startups, hype up the big acquisitions and startup successes. That sells.

But looking at this gorgeous wedding this past weekend I attended in Jamaica, it also brings about a harsh reality some (many) entrepreneurs face… without income, you limit yourself on what you can do or how much you can enjoy things. It’s a hard road going uphill while most of those around you are in cushy positions living it up in otherwise more stable occupations. For me, I’ve traded the lavish lifestyle of consulting (let’s tone down “House of Lies”, by the way) for the uncertainty of startups.

It’s definitely sucked to go to bachelor parties at nice steak restaurants (my favorite), and hold back or not order anything at all while the rest of the group chows down on glorious meaty plates.

Luckily, I’ve got some runway from savings from years of lavish consulting and still frugal spending. However, for the last several months, I’ve eaten countless loaves of bread with peanut butter for lunch and I’ve stopped taking my whole family out to dinners just because… instead, it’s my family definitely supporting my dreams (me).

In fact, an entrepreneur once used the term “mortality of an entrepreneur” as a reason why he seeks funding for any of his endeavors. He only has so much to keep going on personally. Not that I can say I want to be beholden to someone else, or really have a living off another without a really good, profit-generating business, but it’s interesting to think about.

It’s a tough life, and one day, I hope to pay back my family and friends for the support with dinners, random gifts, vacations with friends and family, etc. For now, I’ve got to watch the wallet (especially from homeinvaders at night), and keep plugging away with the belief that I’ll pivot and find my entrepreneurial success to give me the stability and flexibility we all really crave. I don’t think financial security necessarily gives us the “freedom” we want as much as we want the “flexibility” to change our directions.

I know several friends who say they want to do their own thing one day, which could very well be true. However, looking at their lifestyles right now, you can also see how a job is just that – a job. It doesn’t come back to bite them at night. It doesn’t keep them up. However, their jobs enable them to have and live a lifestyle they’re completely happy with.

Entrepreneurship certainly doesn’t guarantee happiness, much like a current “corporate” job. If in the end, you’re happy and your job enables a lifestyle you’re happy with, you’re able to travel the world like you’ve always wanted, then that’s okay, too. We should all be okay with that, rather than push into the media-hyped world of entrepreneurship and startups.

So if you think you want to be an entrepreneur, it’s important to really understand the difficulties and be strapped in for the long run. At least for me, I subscribe to the idea of “plan for the worst, hope for the best”. At some point, if the money doesn’t come through one of these entrepreneurial endeavors, there’s going to be a harsh reality for me to mitigate my risks while perhaps embarking on a journey that may take a step back toward entrepreneurial greatness. It sucks, but taking two steps forward and one step back is still better than no steps forward.

And before I close this article up, I do have to include the obligatory bulleted list of some pros of the harsh realities of entrepreneurship:
  • Lack of income creates some creative solutions
  • Having a set meal everyday frees up time thinking and shopping for what you’re going to eat
  • Like a dog backed into a corner, you have to fight to survive
  • Without stable income, you find you can cut out a lot of extraneous niceties (#firstworldproblems be damned!)
  • Most people will never understand what you’re going through, but with a strong startup community, you’ll find a niche of those who have gone through it, ARE going through it, or will
  • You emerge from the darkness with incredible strength and mental/ emotional fortitude (I hope)
  • If you’re like me, you thrive on challenges and building something from nothing. Entrepreneurship is certainly ONE avenue to do so, and the one I’m using as a vehicle to make a bigger impact. You can find yours, too
Without great risk, it’s difficult to attain great benefit, and so yes, I definitely still view full-time pursuit of a dream is the way to go, but like I said before, it’s wise to mitigate risk through preparation personally (familial), financially, professionally, mentally, emotionally, and socially (all the other -ially's). So if entrepreneurship is going to make you happier or help you get there, by all means, do it. If it’s not, then do what you can to achieve what makes you happy.

What are your thoughts of why you shouldn’t pursue entrepreneurship or some other passion? What are the cases to overcome the risks involved?

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