Entrepreneurship is absolutely not the easiest path out there.
In fact, many people actively avoid entrepreneurship because of the risks involved, the overwhelming amount of responsibility, the fact that there is no real work/life balance, and at the end of the day, every misstep or mistake falls on your shoulders.
But those of us that have decided to try our hand at entrepreneurship don't think too much about those things--that's probably why we're so gung-ho about it. We become entrepreneurs because we want financial reward on our own terms. We want to build something special, and we believe in ourselves enough to do so.
This is what makes entrepreneurship so rewarding, despite it being an extremely difficult career path. I don't think my energetic personality would have ever had much fun doing a "normal" job. What gets me out of bed in the morning, and why I'm still building businesses today, is the excitement of it all. The new idea. The ripe industry. The opportunity to do something that will make an impact, stand out, and push the envelope.
Let me give you an example.
When I went into the single family rental business a few years back, I was excited about this idea of creating rentals while offering great customer service--a quality most people don't think about when they're renting a house. When a resident moved in, they felt they were in a Crestar Home, and we were able to differentiate ourselves from the competition because we had built a brand name.
Now, Crestar Homes was by no means a failure, but it also never met my expectations. It didn't reach the level of success some of my previous businesses had, but the financial reward alone wasn't what had me so excited about it. My excitement came from feeling like I was doing something different and special in the home rental market, and was creating a recognizable brand.
It wasn't my biggest business, but it was highly rewarding.
I often encourage other entrepreneurs to remember that something is only deemed a "failure" in business if it doesn't end up contributing to your next home run.
A company or an idea could severely fall short, but if that process is what acts as a catalyst for your next business to succeed, then it's not a failure at all.
Crestar Homes is a perfect case-in-point. That business wasn't a home run, but it ended up teaching me a lot about the single family rental business and how that industry operates. As soon as I realized I was never going to scale to the level I wanted to, I pivoted and created a new company called LendingOne. Instead of being a landlord, I created a lending company for landlords. And let me tell you, I see much more potential with this model.
It's these twists and turns, decisions and pivots along the way that make entrepreneurship so rewarding. Nobody sits you down and says, "If you create this, you will succeed." Half the battle is in answering the question for yourself, and then finding solutions to all the obstacles you encounter along the way.
Unfortunately, the attitude and endurance required in order to become a successful entrepreneur isn't what's taught in school. In school, you're given the answer. You know what you're going to be graded on. You have this box, and it's your job to color inside the lines as best you can.
That's not what entrepreneurship asks of you.
The challenge in building something on your own doesn't just come from the long hours, or the responsibility of taking ownership over something by yourself.
This is really what inspired me to explain the path an entrepreneur takes in my book, All In. The challenge every entrepreneur faces is in coming up with their own north star, deciding the dimensions of their own box, and then figuring out how they want to color it in based on where it is they want to go. And it's this freedom of choice that scares so many people. Because they were never taught how to navigate those open waters. All they know is how to follow instructions.
I have never been one for following the rules. And if you want to become an entrepreneur, you have to be alright with going your own way.
After all, it's your freedom to get excited about whatever it is you want to get excited about, that makes entrepreneurship so rewarding.