The media portrays entrepreneurship as a glamorous, jet-setting, Ferrari-driving lifestyle. It's all about Richard Branson kiteboarding with a naked supermodel or Mark Cuban celebrating the Dallas Mavericks winning the NBA Finals. Entrepreneurship is about young people in their 20s getting billion dollar valuations for companies that haven't even posted a profit yet.
Those stories are the exception at the fringe of a much larger picture.
While some entrepreneurs strike gold that way, most endeavor to succeed for years and invest every ounce of their intellectual capital and work ethic without seeing those results. Their stories are different, and in my opinion, more inspiring.
The truth is that entrepreneurship is difficult beyond words and the public doesn't always see it that way because good entrepreneurs don't wear their struggles on their sleeves. Part of the game is making challenges seem like they were nothing. You have to view challenges far differently than the normal person does. You have to believe there is a solution and work quickly to find it.
That is part of what makes the entrepreneur culture so good for our country. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers; they're doers. Obstacles are opportunities, and big obstacles are really big opportunities.
Many of my friends will comment about my lifestyle based on things they see on social media. They see me traveling the world, attending Burning Man or the Olympics, and most recently the Summit at Sea (highly recommended by the way). And they say things like, "You've got it made! Owning your own business, living on your own terms, do you even work?"
They see the vacations, the trips, and the company winning awards. But what they didn't see were all the overnighters I pulled over 10 years of building my company. They didn't see the frantic moments of trying to make ends meet. They didn't feel the anxiety I felt and they didn't see the massive amounts of stress. This is, of course, because I didn't post it.
Entrepreneurs keep those moments to themselves. You share the good times and ignore the hard times. If I were to dwell on the low moments, and there were plenty of them, I'm not sure I would have the motivation to press on. You have to focus on the good parts. I don't post selfies with empty pizza boxes strewn across my office at 3am and my computer casting a dull white glow on my tired face... but maybe I should!
My goal is for those who are considering becoming entrepreneurs to understand exactly what they are getting into. When you see a successful business, that wasn't an accident or good fortune. At some point the person behind that company made a big decision followed by another big decision and then lots of hard work that lead to the company being successful.
I want to encourage hard working entrepreneurs to be intentional about telling the whole story. I want to encourage entrepreneurs to share the painful parts as well as the high points. Share the moments in between the awards and the big deals. Tell people about the days when you were so close to failure and so overworked that you didn't even want to open your inbox in the morning.
There are misconceptions out there about entrepreneurship and it is our job to correct that. Here and my personal blog, I will begin posting these types of stories and I encourage other entrepreneurs out there to do the same. If you have a successful company with an amazing story to tell that will inspire people, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to help you tell it.