Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse?

Aruni Gunasegaram

Personally, I think entrepreneurship is a bit of a disease with the only cure being to throw yourself headfirst into swirling, murky water in search of people (your co-workers, customers and partners) who share your vision to help change someone’s life for the better. And therein lays the blessing: touching someone’s life, making it better, and making it easier. In my opinion, when someone’s life is a bit easier they can get back to doing what they love to do.

Wendy’s posts on blogging have made my life so much easier! I spent less time getting my blog upgraded and more time doing what I like to do: creating software applications, connecting/helping people, and blogging.

In my first venture, I worked with venture capitalists, handled board meetings, investor meetings, 40 employees, big customers, had long days, and had some fun. I was younger then. I wasn’t married then. I was childless then. I was very tired when I left. I swore I would never, ever go through that again.

After having two amazing kids, my first and foremost realization was that giving birth to and taking care of little kids is the most challenging, most exhausting job on the planet. At least for me. I’m sorry but I am not one of those ‘motherhood is all peaches and cream’ types of people. I don’t know how my mother did it by herself with two kids.

Having a kid who didn’t sleep consistently at night until he was 4 (he just turned 5 and woke up twice last night) has been the ultimate test in endurance, strength (emotionally and physically), negotiation skills, patience, and distraction skills. Oh just try to get your 2 and 5 year olds to listen to you like people listen to you at work…sometimes it’s easier and many times it’s harder because the kids haven’t learned how to blow you off with style yet. J I’ve heard they get better at that when they become teenagers.

However, to me, there is nothing like the warm, tingly, teary-eyed, heart full feeling you get when your 5 or 2 year old smiles at you, laughs out loud, tells you an inane knock-knock joke, gives you a hug, asks you for help, or wants to cuddle up next to you. Not even getting your first big customer, a promotion, or a successful product launch.

So having sworn off starting another business, I wondered what I could do to maintain my sanity, with a flexible schedule and at the same time feel challenged. I thought about working part time at Starbuck’s but not only would I end up annoying everyone with my suggested improvements, I would also be tied to a certain shift thereby throwing flexibility out the window. Plus, I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy their Passion Tea Lemonade and their Caramel Frappuccinos (when I don’t feel fat!).

I then remembered why I would not make a great employee for a large business, that I should never swear things off, and consequently started Babble Soft, out of my home. Sometimes I wish I were selling coffee. :)

In my opinion, entrepreneurs:

  • Embrace change and are comfortable with change (after a bit of freaking out, of course)
  • Believe their ideas will work even when greater than 50% of the world looks at them as if they were nuts. They have to believe because something like 40-50% of new businesses fail in the first year and 80% fail within 3 to 5 years.
  • Understand that building a business is a marathon, not a sprint (except if you are one of those people who start companies to flip them…nothing wrong with that but I don’t see them as entrepreneurs, I see them as flippers J)
  • Are hit in the face with a problem and after a bit of whining and ‘why me??’ time, they start thinking about ways to work around or through it.
  • They want to change the world. They want to make a difference!

What do you think makes an entrepreneur?

Or better yet what traits have you seen in non-entrepreneurs?

If you are an entrepreneur (or have seen one on TV, from a distance, or are related to one), do you think it is a blessing or a curse or a bit of both?

Aruni is the author of Babble Soft’s Blog. She has two kids, no pets, and a great husband. She is the founder of Babble Soft (her 2nd venture), and has taught Entrepreneurship at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

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Comments

  1. says

    I think that entrepreneurship requires a person to either have or fake a whole lot of confidence in their own abilities. If they’re just faking it, however, they’d better do a good enough acting job to convince even themselves!

    I have an entrepreneural (sp?) spirit but have learned that it is not enough. Coming up with the ideas is the fun part. Putting them into action is the hard part! If you can do both, then you have a shot at success.

  2. says

    lornadoone – great points. Sometimes not even the best acting in the world can convince our hardest critics – ourselves. :-)

    You’re right, ideas are easy to kick around and executing on them to make them a reality is the hardest part….even then there’s no gaurantee of success.

  3. Wendy Piersall says

    Oh – all those great ideas! That’s the biggest entrepreneurial downfall of them all! ;)

  4. says

    Hi Aruni–

    Great post on the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship. I actually had the pleasure of meeting Wendy at the BlogHer Conference in Chicago a few weeks back and I remember the conversation we had about motivation, goals, and life direction which relates directly to entrepreneurship. She reminded me– as a recent college graduate– to pursue the things I love and am most passionate about and realize that I have a strong foundation and network to rely on in order to be successful with those endeavors. I am working at a start-up company now, and it was great to hear this advice from Wendy and also see how it resonated with our founder Armen. I think there is something very special about entrepreneurs and their desire to follow their passions that connects them.

    Thank you for your post, it was great to read!

    Jessica
    http://www.experienceproject.com

  5. says

    Thanks Jessica. Wendy gave you great advice! It sounds like you are doing the right things…you might discover that you are entrepreneur also!

    Aruni

  6. says

    Ah yes it is a bit of a mix of emotions but overall I believe it to be a blessing. For me it has been a huge confidence booster and has connected me to so many wonderful people I would never have met. It challenges me to keep learning new things and shows my kids that you can reach goals that you peruse with gusto (with God’s help). Thanks for the post!

    Heather
    http://www.mom4life.com

  7. Kelly Oleson says

    What a great post. Thank you. I want to encourage anyone looking for a good read to go get The ParentPreneur Edge: What Parenting Teaches About Building a Successful Business by Julie Lenzer Kirk. I am a (very new) entrepreneur and hopefully a soon to be mom and found this book to be absolutely packed with quality, useful, humorous information.

  8. says

    Great list of entrepreneurial characteristics. One trait that I’d add is the ability to weather mistakes and failures. If we don’t learn and grow from those then we’re sunk!

  9. says

    @Heather – you are so right. Being an entrepreneur has helped me learn how to deal with the various ups and downs of life and put things in better perspective.

    @Kelly – Sounds like a great book! I love reading things with some humor thrown in. As they say, if you can’t laugh at yourself then you have a tough road ahead.

    @Laura – mistakes and failures…we try to forget about those but those are the times we are truly learning how to do things better the next time around. In the high-tech start-up world they refer to those as scar tissue. they show that you have been through the firing zone and survived!

  10. says

    Hi Aruni, I really enjoyed your post.

    I agree with lornadoone’s comment re: confidence….entrepreneurship pretty much comes down to “if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will!” You really have to be on top of things, be organized, have your goals written down, and follow-through with the action.

    I haven’t mastered all of this yet, so I’m still working on it. :) I’ve always felt, though, that I didn’t really “fit” in the 9-5 (or 9-10!) mold, and agree that entrepreneurship has to include being flexible…probably comes from us wanting the flexibility to set our own hours!

  11. says

    Oops….I didn’t answer your questions…

    “what traits have you seen in non-entrepreneurs”: the desire for security and rules that come with a J-O-B.

    “If you are an entrepreneur, do you think it is a blessing or a curse or a bit of both?”: I think it is a bit of both…On the “curse” side, I actually put in more time than I would with a J-O-B and I often feel like I’m still not doing enough.

    On the blessing side, I think that having the freedom to set your own schedule is the best. ;)

    Here’s a question I have for any single entrepreneurs: what about medical insurance? Are you concerned about it, or have your found an affordable option? I’d love to hear any input from any 100% self-employed entrepreneurs out there. :)

  12. Jo says

    I really enjoyed the post. I especially identify with the point “Are hit in the face with a problem and after a bit of whining and ‘why me??’ time, they start thinking about ways to work around or through it.”

    As an entrepreneur, you have to have a “fix it myself” mentality, or you won’t stay an entrepreneur for long.

    Is it a blessing or a curse? A bit of both, but much more a blessing I think. Even if you choose to get a job, the can-do attitude and creativity of an entrepreneur will make you shine as an employee as well.

  13. says

    JoLynn – thanks for commenting on my blog too!

    Great additions to the list!

    I’m fortunate that my husband has a ‘stable’ job and we get insurance through the University here….but I think that will change soon as he starts looking at finding a start-up to join.

    I remember when he left our last company, he was offered COBRA but when I priced out buying insurance for ourselves directly from Blue Cross: http://www.bluecross.com/ or Humana: http://www.humana.com/ it was much cheaper with a slightly higher deductible. We had our son on Humana and we were on Blue Cross for about 4 months. You can enter basic information on the sites and I think they will give you an estimate on how much coverage will cost.

  14. says

    @Jo – yes, nowadays I think having entrepreneurial tendencies is a huge plus because even the big companies like to hire innovators because they are the ones who will help lead them into the future. They are typically called intrapreneurs. :-)

    @Petula – thanks for the kind words. I hope Wendy invites me to do a guest post again. I had a fun time pulling this one together.

    @JoLynn – no problem!

  15. says

    I think Entrepreneurs are beyond courageous.

    Most of the time you’re flying without a net and thriving on the feeling of truly being at the steering wheel of your own destiny. Most of the time there is no road map, no gps.

    It’s like putting together a puzzle without having a completed picture to reference. (except that picture is ever evolving in our own imagination)

    And therein lies the beauty.

    Live Your Dreams,

    -Jill

  16. says

    Hi Jill (Goal Guru) –

    I’ve also heard it described as you are building an airplane while gaining speed on a runway heading for a cliff and you are scrambling to get everything together before you reach the cliff and everything keeps changing. What a thrill…it’s the extremist sport out there! :-)

    Yes, life is too short not to live your dreams. BTW, I liked your site!

    Aruni

  17. MichelleVan says

    Oh how I love this post. I just started posting my life story of a “Serial Entrepreneur”.. on my new site…And now I’ve got a child I too have to find other ways to “feed the create a business need.: I think you nailed us entrepreneurs!

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  1. […] the honor of guest posting on Wendy Piersall’s eMomsatHome blog.  The title of the post is Entrepreneruship: A Blessing or a Curse? Wendy has been an inspiration to me and her posts have helped me immensely with getting my blog […]

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  4. […] Wendy Piersall of eMoms at Home.  She gave me the honor of guest posting on her blog with a post called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse? […]

  5. […] some time, we realized we had similar visions and she invited me do a guest post on her blog called Entrepreneurship: A Blessing or a Curse.  We kept in touch, spoke on the phone a few times about ways to work together, became twitter […]