7 Truths of Being an Entrepreneur

Reprinted with permission from DivInc.

Being an entrepreneur is like jumping out of a perfectly fine aircraft and hoping you can create a parachute before you hit the bottom.

Knowing the following 7 things before you jump out of that plane might help you survive the fall.

You Look at Money Differently

Somewhere along the path to entrepreneurship I started looking at my bank account not in dollars but weeks. I know that at my weekly burn rate I can work on this idea for 11.3 more weeks.

Your therapist will love you, your accountant will hate you.

I honestly cannot remember the last time a paycheck hit my bank account on a regular basis, that is not necessarily a great feeling.

Trade shows are the greatest and worst thing for you psyche. People will look you in the eye and tell you your idea is amazing and that they want to commit to purchase and then disappear into the witness protection program the week after when you are doing your follow ups.

You should honestly tattoo on your forearm,

You do not have a sale until you have had your customer’s money for 30 days.

With that in mind it is critical to remember that your customer is not always the end user of your product. Your customer is the entity that is willing to separate themselves from their money to purchase your product.

Google’s customer is ad buyers and not people that use the search engine. Never forget that.

You Draw Your Own Map

Being an entrepreneur is like trying to move quickly through the thickest fog you have ever seen. Technically, you can run as fast as you want, but you have no idea if you are going backwards, about to run into a wall or fall completely off a cliff…

In the world of entrepreneurism, you are staring at a white board until you create your own plan of action, and even that plan can be completely wrong.

I have a love hate relationship with whiteboards that should be studied by a team of psychologists.

The Barrier to Entry to Become a Subject Matter Expert is Really Low

Rob Adams teaches New Venture Creation in the Master of Science in Technology Commercialization program at McCombs School of Business, it is a down and dirty breakdown of the down and dirty in becoming a domain expert. The biggest takeaway from that course is to interview 100 people throughout the industry of your entrepreneurial idea.

I promise you that if you read every relevant article, as well as scholarly paper on the topic combined with 100 interviews of industry related personnel you will know the industry better than anyone that exists.

I have the most random expertise because of this process. I can speak at length with experts in the following topics:

· Cannabidiol effect on treating seizures

· Growing and distribution of Hemp based products

· Emergency and Outpatient care clinic architecture

· Home based water usage patterns

· Taxidermy lead times and tanning requirements

· Integrated Practice Units

· Disparity of Referrals between Neurologist and Epileptologist

I have interviewed hundreds of people in my time as an entrepreneur and it all just adds up. People love to talk about their passion, introduce yourself, ask them a question and then sit back and listen.

Your Sense of Time Becomes Drastically Distorted

‘Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week for themselves to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else’

Man it must be nice working banking hours like that.

Pretty sure those bankers you are comparing me to were not up until 2am Skyping with South Korean manufacturers, nor will they be working through the weekend to secure a bid for proposal with a potential client…

The other day I got asked what I did for fun, I honestly could not even fake an answer. I had no clue. It was almost like my brain has forgotten that aspect of life. There are activities people do for fun that do not involve an excel spreadsheet, this is however a completely foreign concept to me.

It Is All About Implementation

There is no such thing as an Original Idea, someone somewhere has already thought about your Top Secret plan, sorry to burst that little bubble.

Much like it is all about the green sauce with tacos; with entrepreneurship, it is all about the implementation.

Never trust a person who demands you sign an NDA before they will tell you their idea.

That person has not been truly hardened by the hard knocks of the streets of entrepreneurism.

I agree with NDAs for proprietary Intellectual Property; but to swear me to an order of secrecy to tell me about your idea to create yet another app that puts “Hats on Cats” is over the top.

Establish the End State and Work Backwards

Within the first month there needs to be a Founder’s Agreement established that includes an agreed upon plan for exit.

It is mandatory to have the discussion and document what the core group of founders intends to dedicate the next 5 years towards.

Your endeavor will fail if there is a founder working towards building a unicorn, one that is hoping to create a lifestyle company, and the third wants to eventually file for non-profit status to enrich the community.

All three of those are awesome end states for any entrepreneurial idea, just not the same entrepreneurial idea….

Being an Entrepreneur is Scary

I have more questions about my future than ever before.
I have no idea if my ideas will work.

I am 30 years old and have more spots of gray than I should.

I know what it is like to wake up at 2:30am in a full-on panic attack.

I am in constant fear of running out of money, but one thing I do know…

I would not change a thing!


Neal Wendt is the Principal Consultant at The Hill Growth Fund, a boutique consulting firm specializing in Lean Six Sigma redesign, business model reengineering, organizational leadership and strategic planning. He is also a founding fellow of Institute of Lean Healthcare, a community committed to revolutionizing the Primary and Secondary care divisions of the U.S. Healthcare System. He can be reached at 512.740.8925 or neal@thehillgrowthfund.com.