Being an entrepreneur can be good, hard, and everything in between.
Are you considering being an entrepreneur or maybe you already consider yourself one?
Entrepreneurs are a special kind. (It takes one to know one!) I want to share my experience of all the ups and downs that come with having an entrepreneurial mindset.
Entrepreneurs vs. Small Business Owners
I hope it’s not too presumptuous to consider myself an entrepreneur.
According to entrepreneur.com, entrepreneurs tend to “come up with ideas that haven’t been tested, diagnosed, or worked through”, while small business owners may “make calculated decisions where the outcome is clear.”
All entrepreneurs are small business owners at some point, but not all small business owners are necessarily entrepreneurs.
My Entrepreneur Genesis
When I launched Private Practice Skills in 2018, I took on an entrepreneurial mindset. There were a few other folks in this niche, but I hadn’t seen anyone really consistently using YouTube as their primary platform.
My plan was to create messaging that was a little bit less business-forward than I’d seen before. I was entering a space in a way that hadn’t been done before.
I had no idea if it would work. But I believed it would. Not based on any evidence. And it has!
At the time of writing this, I work two days a week and I split my time between seeing therapy clients in private practice and working on Private Practice Skills. At this point, Private Practice Skills accounts for about 80% of my income. I did the thing!
It’s Not All Sunshine and Roses
Now that I’ve been doing this for about four years and have seen success, I’m going through a really weird process. Because along with all of my successes, I’ve seen the underbelly of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.
And if I’m truly honest, I’m struck by how often I meet entrepreneurs who are unhappy. Even though they are doing the thing they set out to do. And even though they might be making good money.
Because in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you kind of need to be all in. In order to continue innovating, you often see entrepreneurs eating, sleeping, and breathing the business they’re building.
The Lie That Ensnares Entrepreneurs
There’s a lie that I see creep up for a lot of folks, and I’ve found myself tempted to believe this at points along my journey:
“If I just make it to that next milestone in my business, then I’ll be happy.”
But most of the time, the next milestone comes and goes. And then the one after that. But, the dissatisfaction is still as present as it was before.
What’s It Really Like?
I’d like to share a little bit about the realities of being an entrepreneur – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Pros of Being An Entrepreneur
- You have the freedom to innovate something – to create something from nothing that hasn’t been done before.
- You can help solve a problem, and potentially create a solution to a problem that has never existed before.
- You can create a job that aligns completely with your passion.
- You can set your schedule and job description.
- You have a vast opportunity to scale your income upwards beyond what’s possible when working for someone else.
Cons of Being An Entrepreneur
- It’s possible to get so sucked in that you work more hours than you ever have before.
- It’s easy to chase trends. It can be tempting to feel like if you aren’t keeping up with what is trending then you are behind.
- Without having healthy boundaries in place, it can be really easy to compare yourself to other entrepreneurs.
- Folks with the entrepreneurial gift are often never satisfied. Innovation is a huge part of an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s common to not take the time to be grateful for what you have built or created.
- It’s easy to start chasing money or the next big idea rather than chasing happiness.
Advice For Being An Entrepreneur
- Do what you love! If it’s not something that you are willing to get up at 4 am and work or dream about, then it’s probably not the right thing to invest in. You need to be willing to dedicate a huge amount of time to what you choose. Don’t do something just because it’s trendy.
- Ask yourself: what will make you genuinely happy? Create a full picture of what you want your whole life to be like, not just your business. If you start to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and you don’t take into account all the other aspects of your life that are important to you, then it has the potential to take over.
- Ruthlessly Hold Onto Your Boundaries. Do not slide on the boundaries you set in your work and family/loved one’s life.
- Set a goal income number. When you arrive at that goal, embrace that as enough. I see a lot of folks create a new income goal when their first goal is met. And they keep going and going and striving and striving and still feel dissatisfied.
- Create space for creative bursts and then take a break.
Are Entrepreneurs Always Dissatisfied?
Short answer: No! I think there are entrepreneurs who are living a happy, balanced life while continuing to innovate in their businesses.
But, I think that it requires a huge amount of discipline to not get sucked into the black hole of working more, making more, and feeling like it’s never enough, all while not being there for the things and people that you really care about.
In order to have happiness as an entrepreneur it is absolutely essential to be intentional about how you use your time and energy and set healthy boundaries.
More Thoughts on Entrepreneurship
Maybe you found this article and are deciding whether or not going into private practice is the right move for you. If that’s you, I have an article that goes through some things to think about when making the decision to start a private practice or not.
Check out my video with more of my thoughts on why I found success as an entrepreneur.
Until next time, from one therapist to another: I wish you well.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels
Image by Pixabay