One of the things that are mentioned less often, or almost never, in the entrepreneurial world, is what online business owners, lifestyle designers, freelancers, and anyone who managed to get out of the rat race and built something on their own were having as ‘current reality’ back in the days. Because it wasn’t pretty.
Overnight success doesn’t exist. That’s as clear as it can be. And if you still believe in it, are looking for easy money, and shortcuts to building a business and living a life free of bosses, salaries and corporate vibes, then you’re delusional. So fix that belief first, before you move onto realizing what entrepreneurship really is.
It’s a struggle. But honestly, it’s the best battle you can fight in life, once you’re clear about the benefits and how bad you want them.
That’s the ultimate freedom and independence, as I like to call it. But to deserve that, to become the person that can live this lifestyle, to learn the lessons on the way that will then help you keep this digital empire going, you need to live one specific lifestyle that comes before the reward. This is something few can handle. Let’s talk about it in details.
Consider this a test, if you aren’t where you want to be in life.
If the following sections of this article sound unpleasant to you, and like something you’d like to skip and just get to the fun part, it’s easier to accept the fact that you aren’t willing to pay the price. Because the price is pain, in ways the average person doesn’t know exist.
You’ll Be Lonely Before You’re an Entrepreneur
You might have many friends in your circle.
You might even have one of those close family relationships where every relative supports you no matter what.
You might hire people quickly and even try to build something like a team.
But be ready for this, cause it’s a fact: you’ll be alone in this.
It will just be you, late nights of hard work (for months and years!), not seeing understanding in other people’s eyes and being perceived as someone hustling on a hobby that will never become something more.
Even Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, overcame a year of depression.
The lack of understanding can’t stop you, though. So if you let it, you still haven’t realized a few things.
I’ve covered these in previous posts.
For instance, we live in a non-understanding world, and that’s okay. Everyone’s looking at things from a different angle. And because one thing is sure and it’s that you’re different, expecting them to understand the unconventional way of living you’re doing isn’t realistic.
Then, there’s the fact that other people will interfere if you share your vision, and maybe that’s why you’re better off keeping your goals to yourself. At least until you see results.
I recently shared that you don’t actually need support on your entrepreneurial journey. It’s all an outer factor. And the real qualities that will one day make you an independent worker having control over his life, are within you. Other people have nothing to do with that, and that actually makes the process easier.
Be okay with being alone. Don’t overthink it. Love the solitude when it’s just you, your laptop, and the doubts and confusion, as you’ll have no idea where this might take you and how long it will take.
One thing is sure though. It will be a better place than the average life planned for you.
Also, you have all it takes to achieve it. To be patient enough to give it years. To be mentally strong enough to handle the lack of understanding and support. And realistic enough to let go of expecting others to have anything to do with this, or for easy ways out to come out of nowhere.
In my hardest moments, even though I had people wanting to show support, trying to take me and my work seriously, and wanting to help, that had little to do with the transformation going on in my mind.
It’s a path you walk alone, and that’s how it should be. Cause once you walk it long enough, the world is yours.
In my loneliest moments, it was just me and my writing. Writing is my passion, so it’s also all I needed to stay sane and keep going.
And what more could one need on a quest to turning a passion into a career? :)
You’ll Be Stressed Before You’re an Entrepreneur
The real face of entrepreneurship includes some or all of the following moments (at any stage of your self-development journey and business creation):
- teaching yourself what internet marketing is all about, learning how to create and/or edit audio or video for a product you’re working on, because you can’t afford to hire an expert;
- falling asleep thinking about the next steps you should take;
- waking up and opening the laptop;
- answering emails while at a family gathering, and having to deal with tech issues or customer support while on a vacation;
- never actually having some time off of your site hustle for a year or two;
- not knowing if you’ll make it or not;
- starting to think you’ll need to get a real job again if you don’t make more money any time soon;
- worrying about all kinds of stuff that normal people don’t need to worry about;
- forgetting about a higher standard of life for a long time;
- there’s no such thing as clearing your mind to enjoy another activity – you need to be focused on your project only, as it’s what’s the foundation of the financial freedom you’re after that will turn your whole life around;
- waking up without a smile on your face, but knowing it’s all for a good cause;
- not enjoying the nice weather outside, as you’ll need to be inside reading about digital skills you never thought you’d need to learn;
- turning branding, networking and a few other activities into a free time thing – meaning, something you do whenever you can.
Mark Manson calls this existential stress in his post 33 Things Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Know, and thinks we all need to embrace it:
‘When you have a job, your stress is about external approval — deadlines, meetings, presentations — and it usually comes from your boss. It’s annoying and it comes in short, strong bursts.
When you work for yourself, you give up having to constantly fight for this external approval. What you trade it in for is this low-level, constant gnawing sense that everything is going to collapse and disappear one day. Yeah, I can wake up at noon every day. I can work when I want. But in a corporate job you don’t have to worry about showing up to work one day and the building not being there anymore. An entrepreneur thinks about this on a weekly basis.’
The time all this is taking is stressful too.
There’s something called the 1000 days rule in business. And it says that ‘you’ll be doing worse than you were at your job for 1000 days after you start your muse business’.
Also, each of your customers is now your boss. Or at least that’s how you should treat them. They are helping you pay your rent. And without them, you’ve got nothing and might need to get back to your old life. Which will make you miserable.
And having so many bosses is stressful. You often need to be available 24/7, depending on the kind of work you do. To answer the same questions over and over again (until you find ways to automate the process and skip the repeating tasks). To be hated even though you think you’re doing everything right. To be asked to do more than what you’re being paid for. And much more.
That’s another level of stress. And you can handle it. Because the stress of not designing a life on your own terms, is worse for people like me and you.
The are also business mistakes you can make that can make you broke.
How do we handle that?
By being absolutely sure that we’re not made for a regular job and lifestyle, desperately seeking the freedom only a lifestyle business can provide, and knowing we have something we love doing and there is a way to make money online and help people with it at the same time.
Your coffee won’t taste as good in the morning knowing there’s something to fix on your website that’s preventing payments from happening smoothly. And it might take hours of research to find out what the problem is.
You won’t enjoy shopping anymore, knowing how important every dollar is, how hard it is to make a new one online, and calculating in what better things you can invest it.
When others around you are talking about things from daily life, what’s going on in the world, or their next trip, you’ll be validating business ideas in your mind, trying not to lose hope and reminding yourself it’s exactly what all other entrepreneurs have done back in the days.
But guess what?
That’s what will make you one of them. All these little things that stress you out now, and that will be your stressors for a long time, are how the mindset of an entrepreneur is shaped. And it’s a beautiful process :)
You’ll Be Broke Before You’re an Entrepreneur
Ready to be broke?
Let’s talk about having less money than you’ve ever had before.
First things first, though. Some people create a brand online without even realizing, be it a YouTube channel that gets millions of view in the first weeks, a post that goes viral, an image that’s made to be a successful influencer on Instagram, or landing a client that pays all the bills and you don’t need much else in the beginning.
These people start making money at a young age, or can quickly leave their 9 to 5 and do that full-time. And that’s okay.
But that’s not me. It’s not you. It’s not Tony Robbins, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Mark Manson, Corbett Barr, Thomas Edison, Elon Musk, Nathan Chan, Henry Ford, or anyone else who simply worked their ass off and started from the bottom.
And you know what?
That’s the best way you can have it. To start with nothing, to leave behind the old mindset and lifestyle, to completely dedicate your time and energy to the things that will make you an entrepreneur, embrace the uncertainty and risks and understand the real meaning of hard work.
I wanna give you some examples.
In a recent post Dan from TropicalMBA talked about a tendency we see, called the broke entrepreneur. Which is something you literally need to be for some time, before you take things to the next level.
‘on behalf of broke-ass entrepreneurs. I can relate to them; I was one for a long time. And although being a broke-ass entrepreneur certainly doesn’t guarantee that you’ll become a wealthy one, I believe those who are willing to be broke – on purpose – are more likely to become rich.’
I mention Mark Manson often on the blog, as I like his work and way of thinking. But his early days, way before he was living the good part of doing what you love and making money from it, his reality looked like this:
‘I figured between my savings, my meager monthly income, and living frugally, I could sustain myself for at least a year while I built up my new business, which was more than enough time to get on my feet. So it was with confidence that I put in my two weeks notice at the bank. That was June of 2008…
By January of 2009 I was broke. The clients in Boston had dried up. I built a website that nobody visited and wrote a book that nobody read. Working alone sucked. Nobody took my job seriously. Screw you Tim Ferriss.
But I never considered giving up, not for a minute. I loved what I was doing. And I loved how I was living. That and I could see that the potential pay off of financial independence and mobility was worth it, no matter how difficult the struggle was. I moved in with my girlfriend the next month who proceeded to support me for much of 2009. In September we broke up. So at age 25, I moved back in with my mother for the remainder of the year.
I refer to 2009 as my “Pain Period” — 16 hour days, sometimes more, for about a year straight. Crash courses in branding, copywriting, sales, product design, search engine optimization, social media, etc. Everything self-taught. I didn’t have any money to hire help, so all web design, product creation, marketing, promotions, advertising, was done by me.’
How do you feel about going through that?
If you’re scared of such reality, prefer the comfort of your current lifestyle and the fake security that your job gives you, alright then. That’s how you should keep it.
But if you want to be out of the system and play by your own rules, and – more importantly – if you have something you’re passionate about and need to turn it into something more as that’s the only way to find meaning, then go for it.
Go for it with all that you have. Cause there are few other things in life worth that much of your time and energy.
Be broke for some time. It teaches you lessons.
For a start, you realize you don’t need to have most of what you consider necessary.
Then, there are ways to survive without cash.
If you get over such periods of being broke and still keep hustling on your business, you can get through anything else in life.
Heck, if these entrepreneurs who used to be homeless once succeeded, you can do it too.
To be a visionary, means to be accepting the bad sides of it now, but keep working on what you believe will support you for the rest of your life. If that’s what you gain, a year or two of your life dedicated to hard work and entrepreneurial stress is worth it. In fact, it’s an element you can’t go without if you’re serious about making this lifestyle change.
Entrepreneurship isn’t a whim. It’s what you’ll become and this new reality isn’t something you’ll take a break from. Most probably, ever.
Plus, there are some pretty smart ways to live frugally, and still have an enjoyable daily life while building your online empire.
Here’s how Tynan talks about financial efficiency:
‘I think that the way most people spend money is absolutely nuts. I see people buying things they can’t really afford, or things that will have no lasting impact on their lives whatsoever, and I cringe. Be frugal, I want to yell.
Money should only be spent if you have it, first of all. Just because everyone else has a car doesn’t mean that you are somehow entitled to one, too. If you don’t have money for a car, don’t buy one. Never finance anything, with the possible exception of a house. Even then, I think it’s usually a bad idea.
When spending money, people think most about the price. This is completely wrong. The first consideration should be the value of the item when you’re done with it. Will it be worth anything at all? A night in a fancy hotel won’t. A fancy car will be worth much less. On the other hand, a used Rolex may very well be worth more. Same with some art. In the middle are things like Apple laptops, which depreciate, but not by much.
Experiences and travel depreciate to zero, but are often worth spending money on. The key is to spend money on the things that make the expenditure worth it. Your trip to Japan will be remembered forever because of the people you spend time with, and the culture and nature you see. A fancy hotel will be forgotten.
The key to a good life is thinking about one’s decisions, rather than going on autopilot. This extends to financial decisions. Build a surplus rather than debt; focus on the cost of things, not the price; spend on experiences and education when it’s a good value.’
A popular saying goes like this: find what you love doing and you’ll never work a day in your life.
You know what? I believe it’s the opposite.
Do what you’re passionate about, turn it into your career, and you’ll be working every day for the rest of your life.
But work doesn’t need to have the negative meaning society has given to it over the last decades.
Instead, it’s the triumph of your existence. It’s what shapes you, helps you feel productive, lets you make a difference, and gives you the dream lifestyle – which is life on your own terms.