Startup Misconceptions: Entrepreneurs Have a Better Work-Life Balance

Posted by Shannon Toole on 2014-07-10

Entrepreneurship is hard. REALLY hard. But with countless tales of how entrepreneurs made it big with almost nothing, it’s easy for a budding founder to jump into the startup world full of unbridled enthusiasm. 

Luckily, Startup Misconceptions is here to clear up the myths, delusions, and fancies surrounding entrepreneurship, with useful advice from experts. So, sorry if we rain on your parade, but we believe a successful entrepreneur is a prepared entrepreneur. You’ll thank us later.

In this installment, we debunk the myth surrounding startups that the entrepreneurial lifestyle offers you a better balance between your career and your personal life. Though the media seems to glorify the happy-go-lucky lifestyle of the entrepreneur who’s “made it,” the truth is that the startup life is a lot more intense.

Myth #1: Entrepreneurship is the road to happiness.

Reality: Not necessarily. For some entrepreneurs who are truly passionate about their company and love what they do, startups may very well be the key to happiness. Generally, however, the startup life is not without strife. A typical day at work is jam-packed with the stress that comes with all the risks and instability of a fledgling company. The stress doesn’t exactly evaporate after work, either. In a recent article titled Startups Are NOT Glamorous -- They Run on Fear, Peter Hinssen sheds light on the realities of the seemingly ideal startup lifestyle:

When you build a startup, you risk everything. [...] It's nights and nights lying awake thinking about what could go wrong, and what would happen to your life, your family and your reputation if your startup failed.”

Myth #2: You can work whatever hours you want.

Reality: Technically, yes. As an entrepreneur, you do decide your hours...of the many, many hours that you’ll work. According to Phil Libin, Co-Founder and CEO of Evernote,

As an entrepreneur you get to work any 20 hours a day you want.”

In an article titled The 10 Most Shockingly Untrue Entrepreneurial Myths, Exposed , Steve Tobak confirms that the startup life isn’t all fun and games.

If you’re on your own, chances are you’re going to find yourself wearing all sorts of hats and working 24x7 for a very long time. [...]There’s nothing wrong with that, but not everyone feels more freedom and control that way.”

Myth #3: You’ll have lots of time for your personal life.

Reality: Definitely not. “Wantrepreneurs” may cling to the belief that they can have it all -- family, friends, fun, AND a successful company -- but sacrifices will be made at the expense of their personal lives. According to Peter Hinssen,

It's bloody hard work, requires tremendous investments of time, energy and commitment.[...] Building a startup means hardly having time for family, no time for a real social life, no time to take holidays, and every single minute of your waking life is devoted to thinking about your startup.”

So before you find yourself green with envy over those CEOs on the cover of Forbes, just remember that they probably don’t have it all. Many successful entrepreneurs never achieve work-life balance; though it's not entirely impossible, most of the time the balance will be skewed toward work. 

But as the saying goes, "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."


(Work and life balance written on chalkboard photo by Shutterstock)

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