The business industry and the startup ecosystem on the surface look pretty glamorous and attractive. The stories arising out of this ecosystem are pretty amazing and bring forward inspiring entrepreneurs. However, in reality, these stories mask the dark side of entrepreneurship and don’t reveal what exactly goes behind the scenes.
Behind this facade hides extensive emotional baggage and hidden agendas that you might be surprised to find out. I believe that knowing the full picture is really important before we dive into the deep end of the pool. So let’s find out what exactly do I mean by the dark side of entrepreneurship.
If you scratch the surface of what an entrepreneur goes through during his journey, you will find pain pressed down by tolerance and the public’s exuberance. Even while a startup’s success is celebrated, the darkness, pain, and the failure that led up to it is not talked about. And I really find that problematic.
Indeed, entrepreneurship is about passion and innovation. However, it is also about addressing the underlying situations so that you may better tackle them. When you start out your journey, the idea of being your own boss and building something of your own is exhilarating for sure. However, you do need to realize that it is not all fun and games and there is no such thing as an overnight success. Entrepreneurship has hidden elements that you should definitely be aware of.
The idea of starting your startup or business is to ultimately make a lot of money. However, you are mistaken if you think that is going to happen right away. The truth is, you are going to struggle a lot initially while you get your operations and infrastructure up and running. You’ll be spending more than what you will be making, and hence would barely be making ends meet.
Moreover, raising capital and acquiring funding for your startup or business is very tough. So if you are under the impression that you will get the investment right away and live the picture-perfect life, then I highly recommend that you drop the pursuit of entrepreneurship. Because being a startup founder, you should accept the fact that you have to struggle initially for quite a while, and hope things work out in the future.
When people talk about starting a startup they often forget the emotional cost a startup founder bears. The burnout, stress, or mental exhaustion people go through just to get their idea floating is real and severe. The dark side of entrepreneurship includes depression, stress, and mental health issues. A study published on springer revealed the following:
“Entrepreneurs reported experiencing more depression (30%), ADHD (29%), substance use (12%), and bipolar disorder (11%) than comparison participants. Furthermore, 32% of the entrepreneurs reported having two or more mental health conditions, while 18% reported having three or more mental health conditions. Asymptomatic entrepreneurs (having no mental health issues) with asymptomatic families constituted only 24% of the entrepreneur participants. “
Startup founders are mostly alone and lonely and have to spend 12 + hours working to fulfill their responsibilities as CEO/Founder. You don’t really get to have a social life since you are struggling at the start. Instead, you have complaining friends and family, and a messed up routine. The long hours, complimented by isolation and failures can take a great toll on the mental well being of the founder, which is pretty scary.
Not everyone is able to cope up with this kind of a state. If things don’t go your way in the start, unhappiness will kick in sooner or later. You might lose the motivation to work further and start thinking that all the effort was for nothing. And then with all the stress and ambiguity, you start questioning everything and emotions get the better of you. Ultimately you spiral into depression.
The truth is that you can not predict the success of your startup. Yes the people might hype you, and yeah you might have an amazing idea, but at times those things just aren’t enough. Nothing goes as plan. You might decide on a timeline, but you will find yourself swaying away from it from time to time. You will have to constantly adapt, adjust, and at times pivot even if you don’t like it. Your business plan and your envision might end up in the trash altogether. Remember, nothing goes as planned!
If you are building a startup, you are bound to be working non-stop. Putting in more than 12 hours every day, and getting inadequate sleep, you are bound to reach a point where you won’t really care if you eat healthy or exercise. Because work gets the better of you and it is so exhausting and mentally draining that you forget about anything else.
You don’t really get the time to work on yourself, cook, exercise, or even take a breather. This has a great effect on your mental and physical health You won’t be in the best shape, and you will have a terrible diet.
What the dark side of entrepreneurship hides the most is the high chance of failure that a startup entails. As a founder, you need to accept that your startup might fail, and know when to quit. There’s nothing more worrying than a founder being stubborn on a dying idea. Failures are more common in entrepreneurship than successes. The media or the industry only highlights the success stories which is why you know about them more. Failure is inevitable and is always present. However, what sets good entrepreneurs apart from successful ones is the ability to recover from failure.
I hope I have been able to communicate and hint towards the dark side of entrepreneurship. I feel that awareness is essential. Are you a struggling founder? Have you experienced this dark side? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to us at PACE Business.