What are the worst realities of being an entrepreneur? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Jason M. Lemkin, co-founder of EchoSign and NanoGram Devices, on Quora:

The worst part of being an entrepreneur, which is also part of what makes entrepreneurship so visceral, is the feeling of truly failing with 100% responsibility.

You will never, ever feel what it's like to fail with 100% responsibility as a "mere" employee. It's hard there, too--but it's not the same. If you aren't the founder, and the business fails, you pick yourself up and find another job. You move on. If, as a non-founder, you fail at your individual job, that's rough. But the company can survive that. You move on.

But as a founder, every day you aren't succeeding, you are failing. You will feel it in your gut every moment of the day:

  • From the moment you launch a product for real, but without customers, you will be failing. You will feel it every day.
  • From the moment you have customers until you have enough to have a self-sustaining business, you will be failing. This is one of the most stressful phases of all.
  • When you have a self-sustaining business, but you aren't growing fast enough, you will be failing. And you have to shield the employees from a lot of this, yet also push them to go harder and stronger.
  • When you will never be number 1 or number 2 in an a given arena, you are failing. You have to redefine who you are, somehow, in some way. No one wants to work at the number 6 company.
  • When you can't hire the VPs you need in order to scale, you are failing. No one can see this on a daily basis, but it weighs on you constantly.

The highs are higher, and the lows are lower; this is true. But it oversimplifies the fact that one of the big lows is failing, and the stress of failing. Even in seemingly big success stories, this is the truth.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:​

Published on: Oct 4, 2016