Imagine someone hands you an ice cream cone, then punches you in the face, then apologizes and gives you a new ice cream cone, then punches you in the face again. Image this cycle on replay for the foreseeable future – Groundhog Day. Now imagine becoming obsessed with this process. Welcome to the life of an entrepreneur.
Take this with a grain of salt as I am currently in the eye of the storm that is starting a business, but being an entrepreneur can really suck sometimes. As my high school humanities teacher Mr. Bob Klotz would say – “Dev, the only two things that suck in this world are black holes and vacuum cleaners”. Well Klotzie, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong.
Being on your own is awful sometimes! Ahhh, what I would give to have a boss that annoyed the hell out of me, deadlines to meet, or a sales quota I needed to hit from time to time. I don’t actually want any of those things, but you get my point – give me a freaking benchmark to surpass; something tangible! Really, it’s just the fear of not knowing that can cripple me. The fear of coming into the office every morning with no definitive answer as to what a good day is supposed to look like. But if you think about it, isn’t a good day simply meeting or exceeding your expectations of that day?
Ultimately, that’s what happiness is right? Meeting or exceeding our expectations? If I expect my lunch to cost $10 and it only costs $5, I’m ecstatic. But, if lunch ends up costing $15, I’m pissed. Doesn’t matter how good the food was or how much I enjoyed the company of the people I was eating with – I expected a $10 meal. Happiness is simply the level of satisfaction we have with the way our expectations were met. Weird, right?
Starting a business is no different. The problem lies in the fact that as an entrepreneur, you have no idea what a good day is supposed to look like because, in most cases, you don’t have a proven roadmap to success. How can you be happy or satisfied when you haven’t a clue which of the seeds you are planting will ultimately be harvested – and more importantly when?
In our case, we started a financial planning firm for millennials. Maybe if we would have followed the traditional route of chasing rich people and their investment accounts, we might have had another business to compare our progress to. Maybe if we would have just stuck with the comfy salary and benefits, we might have someone telling us exactly what to do every day to produce results. Maybe if we had just pushed our moral compass’ deep into the pits of our souls and cranked out insurance and mutual fund sales, we might not have a lingering anxious feeling about the uncertainty of our future.
Maybe, but personally, I’d rather get punched in the face every day.
Uncertainty, fear, anxiety, loneliness, and frustration are emotions I experience on a weekly basis. However, on a weekly basis those emotions are met with hope, excitement, pride, happiness, and purpose. As all entrepreneurs will attest, the latter emotions are some of the most fulfilling you will ever experience. If we must fight through the former emotions to gain access to the latter, count me in 100%.
So, although starting a business can really suck at times, I find it helpful to ask myself a simple question in moments of doubt. What in life that’s truly satisfying and empowering, was born from anything less than a steaming pile of emotional and physical stress? The answer – Ice Cream.