I’ve been building startups since I was twenty-three. Every time someone asks me what I do and I have to say “I’m a startup founder or entrepreneur”, I cringe. Usually the person I am talking to gives a confused, unsatisfied look. I don’t blame them. What does that really mean?
In my nearly twenty years of building companies, I’ve been fortunate to have some success. As a result, I have been asked to speak to fellow entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs often. In doing so, there is one question that frequently comes up that bothers me the most.
The question usually starts with some or all of these pre qualifiers, “I recently finished college and majored in entrepreneurship. I’ve been reading a ton of books about startups. I read Tech Crunch or (insert important VC’s) blog all the time. My Mom/Dad/Sister has their own business…”
The question then continues with something along the lines of, “How do I know what business I should start?” My first thought is, “Who says you should start a business?”
Being an entrepreneur is not a career. It is not something that you should major in in college. None of the above qualify you to start your own company. Starting a company, especially a high growth startup like those I am most familiar with, takes deep desire and is hard work. Most will fail. The pay is very low unless you are one of the 10% or less with a successful exit.