The Glory of Entrepreneurship

The infographic depicting seven harsh realities of entrepreneurship really struck a chord with me, especially (3). It reflects a conversation that I just had with my oldest daughter.

For some time, I’ve wanted to open up my own business. I’ve been a fair to moderate success managing other people’s businesses, and I wanted to see if I could go it on my own. I know exactly the kind of business I’d start, too: a retro arcade. Before you laugh, there are more and more of these popping up all over the country, even a few here in my hometown of Toledo. All of the ones here focus on the food (they are primarily restaurants or bars); I want to open one that would focus on the games.

Naturally, I’ve discussed this with my family (including my kids). The kids’ main concern is less on the profitability or feasibility of the business, and more on whether I will let them play for free.

One day, out of the blue, my oldest said, “Daddy, I really want you to hurry up and open your arcade.”

I was touched by the show of support, but as a parent these types of confidence-boosting sentiments are rarely said without ulterior motives. I asked, “Why are you in such a hurry?”

“So we can be rich and hire a maid.”

Naive. I had to hit her with the reality of the infographic’s third point. Most business owners struggle just as much as everyone else to make ends meet. Only a handful become wealthy.

I explained what “profit” was and told her that most businesses operate at a loss for three years before seeing their first dollar. During that time, one has to pump more money into the business than is coming out in order to keep it afloat. That means investors, loans, crowdsourcing, credit lines.

If I successfully open this arcade, my family will be in no better a position than we are now, not for at least five to ten more years.

My daughter is caught up in the lie that being an entrepreneur with a successful business means that you’re fabulously wealthy. Although it seems to be a widespread misconception, my position is that no one really believes it. If they did, there would be more entrepreneurs. Because if being a business owner means instant wealth and fame and solid gold Gulfstream jets to fly to business meetings in Maui, then why isn’t everyone doing it?

I think I depressed her a bit when I explained the truth.