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Why I Don’t Recommend Entrepreneurship to Everyone Anymore

by Jeremy Schoemaker on June 3, 2014 · 16 comments

18347When I got started in business, I really didn’t have a choice. It was either put up or shut up. Make or break. Sink or swim. Not because I thought this was nice to have…or that it was my destiny to be who I am today, but I just HAD to make my business successful.

Since then, I’ve had my share of ups and downs. Sold some businesses, built some cool products, and made a boat load of money. When things were going well, I was on cloud 9. I would see my friends and family members still struggling, and I always wondered ‘why don’t they do what I do?’ I even went up to them and said, ‘hey do XYZ and you can quit your job forever’. Of course, people don’t like receiving advice when they’ve never asked for it. I would be adamant about how everyone should be an entrepreneur, and if anyone would disagree, they were permanently branded as a “turd” in my mental book.

Of course, I’ve changed as a person. What I’ve experienced is nothing in comparison to most people, and while I don’t claim to be better than anyone, I see things differently from most people, and time has given me the benefit of wisdom. So now, when I see people who can barely wake up in the morning to go to a job they hate and come back to a life they hate, I no longer advise them on quitting their job and pursuing business. In fact, even if they’re young and energetic and passionate, if they ask me if entrepreneurship is their path of destiny, I leave it up to them.

Why? Because no matter how rosy things may seem, I can never gauge their inner game.

A perfect example is a team of 2 founders I’ve met: a VP of sales at a large ad network and a brilliant self-taught engineer who turned down job offers from Google and Zynga. They were going around the town, pitching people to give them money to start their own whiz-bang-tech thing they were building. The sales guy was the schmoozer and the engineer guy was the brains. Perfect match: like Jobs and Woz. They managed to raise over $650k from unsuspecting “investors”, most of whom were friends and family.

So what happened?

The typical startup happened. They blew 80% of their money on building their product in a complete vacuum (instead of going out and getting feedback for their beta products) and on marketing for a product that had no fit (nor existed). While they stayed lean, their investors were getting antsy. The engineer guy, in the middle of development, had a mental breakdown and disappeared (turns out he went surfing most of the time). The stress, too, had affected the sales guy’s marriage, which was already in bad shape. At the end of that year, the divorce was finalized and basically broke him down spiritually. The worst part? The divorce lawyer and the ex-wife took most of what he had. (In state of California, the husband has to pay for the wife’s lawyers… so imagine if you have 2 lawyers charging you $400/hr EACH.. that’s $800 per HOUR. If you’re in that situation, you’ll wonder if “till death do us apart” includes possible ex-spouse murder.)

At least the engineer guy took a salary and is in his mid 20′s. The sales guy was in his late 40′s and drew nothing.. only to be left with nothing. To make the matter worse, investors took legal action on him (he was the older guy with some assets left so they went after him) to try and get some money back. I don’t know what happened next, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he skipped town … or even the country to save his ass from all these financial obligations.

Now, believe it or not, this is not an extreme case example. This is by far one of the most common startup stories you’ll hear.

1) Control over fear

When things go bad.. or when you’re not getting the steady paychecks that you were used to, the fear inside your head will knock harder and louder. At first, it may be a little kick…with a little banging…but that fear will only get bigger and bigger. If you are not able to control your fears, this fear will eat you alive. When I got started, there were nights that I would wake up in a cold sweat, worrying about when and where my next paycheck was gonna come from.

(If you’re having trouble focusing, a huge part of that comes from fear, believe it or not. Try meditating. Works wonders.)

2) Control over self

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” -Marianne Williamson.

I’ve seen this over and over again. Affiliate marketers who find the riches promoting shady offers that are insanely and unbelievably easy to convert, doing 5-6 digit revenues per day….or entrepreneurs who hit the golden jackpot of virality and their revenue skyrockets. The money goes WAY over their head and they start spending like crazy. With the fast life comes fast cars and fast women.. endless flow of party, alcohol, and drugs.

Then their business DIES because they dropped the balls. Then bam.. their business goes kaput. Because they lacked the control to master their inner self, their outer self takes over.

3) Belief in self

Imagine there are 20 other companies doing what YOU do. And you tell people that you’re going to revolutionize the world with your new & improved version of that thing you make… that EVERYONE makes. What would people say? “You’re wasting time”…. “it’s been done”… bla bla. So what do you do? Do you listen to them and quit? Or do yourself to make a plan and dream a reality and keep going?

Most would quit. Remember Google? That was their story. That was Facebook’s story. That was DropBox’s story. That was WalMart’s story. That was Virgin Airlines’ story. Do you believe in yourself to make your plan and dream a reality?

Better yet, when you’re down.. can you keep yourself motivated long enough to get out of the valley, and back up to the peak?

 

Happiness

If you ARE an entrepreneur, why do you do what you do? Ever think about that?

What’s funny is that I know an immigrant family that lives not too far from where I live, that are probably in the top 20 of all the people that I’ve ever met in my life. Yet their family’s combined income is less than what I used to make in one month during my boom affiliate days.

Yes, life isn’t about “stacking” cash. It’s not about being covered on Forbes. It’s not about being the next Bill Gates. It’s not about going IPO.

Because at the end of the day, you have your OWN life. You come home to your OWN family. You sleep next to YOUR wife. It doesn’t matter what kind of icon you compare yourself, because ultimately it’s your own skin that you have to comfortable in.

While I like challenging myself to see how far in life I can take myself, I now know that this path isn’t for everyone. Because some people genuinely get unhappy from taking risks. And that’s ok.

Why?

Because we ALL wanna be happy.

I’ll end this post with this awesome story I read, that really gave me a great perspective:

 

A businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The businessman complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while.

The businessman then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The businessman then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos; I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The businessman scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats; eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor and eventually open your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you would run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.” “But what then, señor?” The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part! When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.” “Millions, señor? Then what?” The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “Isn’t that what I’m doing right now?”

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2895 posts on ShoeMoney.com.

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.


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{ 16 comments }

1 Bertran

Wow, I absolutely love the AWESOME story.
If only I was satisfied with what I have in life.

I am feeling what you are feeling, it is so true I want to become my own boss and I want everyone of my friends to be the same.

My take is, if you are working in a job, you are working on someone else’s terms. You run the risk of getting fired. And you are just another rat running in the rat race.

Well, I am not much of a risk taker, but I want to be my own boss. Hence, I chose to take the ‘easy’ route and start an online business, especially after following your blog posts.

2 Ome

I have to agree a bit to what you posted here and also add the fact that entrepreneurship requires two factors that work hand in hand which are consistency and persistence. You have to persist with what you are doing and keep it consistent to see the fruits of your efforts. I like the being comfortable in your own skin part because that is so true.

Shoemoney 3 Cassie Merlot

After I made over six-figures I couldn’t understand why everyone didn’t go out for themselves but after two years and some hard times, I get it now, it isn’t for everyone.

Shoemoney 4 Liam Breckenridge

So many people thing that the life of an entrepreur is not always an easy one. Some people like you, make it look easy, but I know that you’ve had to work hard for everything you had and you’re still striving to keep growing things.

Shoemoney 5 Fiona

I’m glad you’ve come around to seeing that this isn’t for everyone. So many startups fail, it’s just ridiculous. It is all part of capitalism though I suppose.

Shoemoney 6 Gavin O.

Great post. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing it.

Shoemoney 7 Anonymous

That’s some fantastic advice. Just about what I needed to read right now.

Shoemoney 8 Dr. Awesome

I like the story that you put in there about the mexican fisherman. I mean really you have to look at what you want to attain from all of it at the end of the day.

9 Princewill

Humans are different, we are created differently with different choices and strength, talents and weaknesses…

Not everybody will do well as an Entreprenuer and Some don’t even like the idea.. Like myself I love Entreprenuership can’t say same for my bro or friends..

Entrepreneurship comes with a whole lot of responsibilities and not every one is willing to take on that responsibilities..

It all boils down to knowing one’s strength and path and taking that path, afterall, we are all headed towards same direction but on different paths…

Your points are valid and it’s been an interesting read.. Thanks for sharing on kingged.com

10 faisal

honestly, it’s not for everyone.

11 Joe Awesome

So does this mean you are going to start working less?

12 Eric Schwarzer

I too no longer recommend people pursue their own thing – it has ups and downs, twists and turns and to be honest there are days I miss the simplicity of just working.

That said, if you ARE keen to get into something as an Entrepreneur, there has never been a better time to try to make your mark.

Communicate Value, give people something they already want and charge a reasonable amount.

Not really rocket science – chasing fads, experimenting with new traffic sources, dealing with booms and busts in the affiliate space.. hey if that’s the game, and if you enjoy it, go nuts.

I’ve already found my little fishing village and honestly it couldn’t have come at a better time.

My kids are 4 and 5, I have an abundance of time to spend with them and I have no desire to chase down piles of money, just the desire to live this moment to the fullest.

Life is short, have as much fun as you can, and help others to do the same.

If you’re paying the bills and you’ve got time to spend with your family, consider that a major win. Life is today, not a perpetual struggle for tomorrow.

13 Marry Geller

Thank you for sharing this Osama story. Points like Control over fear, Control over self and Belief in self are very useful. The video is also inspirational and remarkable

14 shaheena

Great site you have here.. It’s hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

15 J

I agree with most of this article however, I know some of the failures I see with entrepreneurship is coming from a lack of business skills and knowledge. While there are books, there are somethings you cannot get out of a book. Some people need a business class or a class on how to deal with different situations that arise. Some don’t know where to begin or are slow to pickup whats happening in their business.
It just isn’t simply they don’t have what it takes issue.
I wouldn’t suggest anyone quit there job but I would suggest everyone be an entrepreneur a few hours out of the day. The extra income will most certainly help and who knows, it may lead to them being a full entrepreneur no long trapped by a lack of finances and being able to have freedom in life to truly live.

16 Ujjwal Kumar Sen

You are right, I also know it is not for everyone, but I think blogging and affiliate marketing are just great to make extra cash in spare time.

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