Michael Arrington posted a great article on Techcrunch today.
I barely consider myself an entrepreneur, since I've started my own company early this year, and I don't have the experience that so many folks have in Silicon Valley. That being said, I really agree with his Pirate analogy (basically, Pirates had more chances of dying than becoming rich and yet, they still decide to go for it).
In my opinion, becoming an entrepreneur is an emotional decision. It is not rational. You have to be absolutely crazy to decide to start your own thing. Let me list here all the reasons why it doesn't make any sense at all:
- your chances to succeed, as good as you are, are barely above 0.5%.
- you're going to spend money and not save money. And you can triple what you think you're actually going to spend.
- every hour, you're going to realize why you're doomed for failure.
- you're going to compete with folks who have (much) more money, and a better network than you.
- your network of people that you thought would help you is actually 5 times smaller than you thought.
- it's going to take you much longer than you thought to get the product right (i'm still in that process).
- hiring people for no cash is hard and things will go slower than you want.
- users will show you every day why your product is not right.
- your family is the first one to suffer from your decision.
See, it doesn't make sense at all. Why would someone do this, when they could work in a good company, save money, build their future and the future of their family?
The answer is simple: the journey. An ex boss of mine told me one day:
"it's not the tasks you've accomplished in your work that matters, it's who you meet, what you learn and whether or not you became a better person".
I believe entrepreneurs care more about the intensity of the adventure, than the comfort of their daily lives. It doesn't matter whether or not we succeed (even though we all kill ourselves to win). The thrill of starting something from scratch, taking each hour as it comes and making sure we're closer from being the next google right now than we were 30 minutes ago. Every little success becomes a tremendous gratification, and every mistake is yet another obstacle to overcome.
The mental game is what's really different. We take all those hits (I'd say several every hour), and we have to keep going. There is no turning off our computer and going back home for a break and somehow things will be better tomorrow. It's like golf: we hit a bad shot, we can't go down. We have to think how we can get out of it and focus on our next shot.
That journey makes us so much richer. Of coure, it's no material wealth. But I can tell you that the bonds we create with the people (friends) who are working (helping) with us (most of the time for free!) on our product are much stronger than any other relationships we would tie in a big company with our co-workers. The thrill of the first user hitting our product are going to be way much more rewarding than hitting our quarterly target. That feeling that we're on to something, while a few minutes ago we thought we were doomed...
Yes, we're crazy. And I don't think everybody can (nor should, nothing wrong with it) accept the deal terms of being an entrepreneur. But it's such an amazing adventure. I have no idea where I will be in 2 years, nor guarantee that the work we're doing on Oleboo will pay off (fingers crossed!), but one thing is for sure: I will be a better person.