The Real Lifestyle Risks of Entrepreneurship

When people talk about starting their own business, the fear of the risk involved is often the key factor holding them back. There is an assumption that launching a business is akin to gambling – one unlucky roll of the dice and everything will come crashing down. They believe that anyone willing to go out on their own must have an incredible tolerance for risk or a substantial lack of fear. In fact, the most successful entrepreneurs are relatively risk-averse. There is a lot at stake when you put everything you have into the next great business idea, and true entrepreneurs work hard to mitigate every potential threat before it becomes an issue.
Four of the most common risk-related concerns are financial, lifestyle, career, and ego. Of course, there is some inherent risk in going out on your own, but there are legitimate ways to manage and mitigate those threats. This article discusses the realities of lifestyle risk and what you can do to manage that risk before you dive in to the world of entrepreneurship.
The perceptions of lifestyle risks tend to be relatively accurate. Most people understand that starting a business requires sacrifice – time, spending habits, heightened stress. During the early stages of any new business, the founder is going to spend every waking moment and a good portion of sleeping time obsessing about all that needs to be done. Your time may be more flexible, but for every one of your kids’ soccer games you attend, those hours of work will likely be made up in the wee morning hours. The responsibility of entrepreneurship can weigh heavily as well, leaving many business owners a walking ball of stress. And, depending on your financial situation, you and your family may be enjoying Ramen noodles for every meal during the earliest stages of your venture.
The trick to handling these lifestyle changes is to acknowledge their reality and consciously manage them as best you can. Keep the lines of communication open with your spouse or partner, family and friends. Become obsessive about managing your time and what needs to be done next and work through your to-do lists as efficiently as possible. Know that you will be working 82 hours a day most days and that you will constantly feel under pressure. Then make a plan to deal with those facts.
Give yourself a break. Do the things that you need to do to take care of your physical and mental health. Block out time to exercise, schedule important family events and treat them like mandatory meetings. Keep a pen and notepad with you to jot down ideas or tasks that are distracting you. If you are feeling particularly stressed, take a step back and do something that relieves stress for you. At the start or end of each day, reset your priorities and make a plan. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and focus on completing those tasks. Reward yourself when important milestones are reached.
Starting a business does come with substantial changes to your lifestyle. Most entrepreneurs go from a basic 9 to 5 work-a-day existence to a constant focus on their startup. You and your family will likely need to tighten your belts for a few months and high stress is part of the deal. But charging right through these risks is the best way, if not the only way, to reach the other side where your financial and personal independence will know no bounds.
A favorite quote around this office is “Entrepreneurs are people who are willing to live like most won’t so they can live like most can’t.” Of all the risks associated with starting a business, many fear the lifestyle risks the most.