#174 – Why most entrepreneurs fail

Show notes from Episode #174 of the Sweaty Startup Podcast.

Why do you want to start a business?

Is it because you love photography and want to be able to make a living doing it? Do you wish there was a cat cafe in your town, so you want to be the one to open it? Do you want to get rich while doing fun and exciting work with a flexible schedule?

Too many people start businesses because they are selfish. They start a business that they want to start or that fits their passions. They want to replace their current income and want to be their own boss, but these people fail.

The market doesn’t care what you want or what you’re passionate about. The market cares about getting what it wants. Capitalism only cares about the consumer’s problem. The people that go at entrepreneurship with a selfish attitude aren’t framing it properly, you can’t pursue entrepreneurship for selfish reasons. 

If you start a business because of what you want, you’re more likely to make emotional decisions that aren’t supported by fact. You’re more likely to ignore the signs that you need to stop, move on, and do something else.

Entrepreneurship isn’t fun. Sure, the first few months are exciting, but once you have a to-do list full of stuff you don’t want to do, you’re going to quit. Even if you like the service you’re providing and find mowing lawns relaxing, in six months you won’t be the one mowing lawns, you’ll be handling employees and customers and sales while you have workers mow the lawns for you.

Entrepreneurship is hard and uncomfortable. People call you with problems every day. Employees have problems, customers have problems, and you have to handle them. When Storage Squad first blew up, Nick and his partner were working literally around the clock for a week, getting little sleep and little food while doing manual labor. Most people give up way before that happens.

Those that succeed are really good at doing the things that they don’t want to do. Once the fun wears off, once the boring or stressful or uncomfortable tasks come in, people quit.

Successful entrepreneurs see owning a business as a tool to delay gratification for five years and work towards the life you want down the road. Nobody loves scrubbing toilets or providing home services, but these entrepreneurs know that it’s their best choice to live the life they want in a half decade.

This isn’t to say that entrepreneurship can’t overlap with something you enjoy doing, but the odds of success with passion projects is much lower. The market is competitive and diluted, and people are willing to work for wages that will limit your potential.

The market is ruthless, it doesn’t care what you love, and it won’t let you be selfish. Keep that in consideration as you think about what your next venture is, and if you’re doing it for selfish reasons.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.