I was browsing Twitter the other day and I saw an article that was going to give me 101 companies that I could start for under $100. I’m not going to mention who published it *Cough* Entrepreneur *Cough*. But the publisher and the author weren’t what I took issue with. What really ground my gears about this article was the idea that true entrepreneurs are out there shopping for ideas. And that kind of scares me. Because I’ll tell you right now, there really is only one company that you should start. Regardless of what your skillset is, what your background is, or where you are located, the only company any entrepreneur should ever start is always just one: the one that you’ll love to run.
See, I didn’t tell you which markets were booming, which customers have cash, or which companies have the best chance of success. Because while all of those things play some small part in a company, the biggest factor that every entrepreneur needs to keep in mind is their love of the game.
Because here are some hard truths that sometimes get glossed over when we’re talking about entrepreneurship.
You will hate your customers.
Not daily and not for extended periods of time, but mark my words, you will hate your customers at some point. One of them will beg for leniency on their bills and will promise to catch up. Then they’ll take off and leave you high and dry. One of them will be irrational and emotional and will blow up your world with negative reviews, angry phone calls, and emails written in all caps. Trust me, it’ll happen.
Regardless of the company you start, there will be a moment where your anger towards your customers will make you question why you started the company in the first place. In fact, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, this will happen more than once. And if the only thing you can answer that question with is, “well, I’ve got to keep going because Entrepreneur Magazine told me this was a hot market!” then you’re going to fail.
Because the only thing that can keep you centered and keep you slogging through the terrible customer experiences will be your love for the company. When things are dark and you want to give up, you have to have that reservoir of love to tap into in order to keep going. And that’s why you need to start a company that you’ll love to run.
You will hate your employees.
Put away the pitchforks and hear me out. I love my team members. I know that some of them would walk through fire for my company. I also know that my company would be no where without their efforts and their brilliance. But here’s the thing, if you’re in the game long enough, there will be a time when you will be betrayed, back-stabbed, taken advantage of, stolen from or lied to by your employees. And because of the love and trust that I described a few lines ago, these negative actions will hurt.
You will be sitting in a dark room, going over every interaction with the person that just betrayed you and you will question everything you’ve ever done. It will happen. And you’ll be angry, you’ll be hurt, you’ll be sad and yeah, most likely you’ll hate them for just a little bit. And that anger is going to fester and it’s going to make you question why you ever started your company. And if the only answer you have is: “I’ve got to keep going because I was able to start this company for under $1,000!” then you’re screwed. Because that answer is paper-thin when it comes to the emotions you’ll be feeling when things go wrong.
And this is yet another reason that the only company you should ever start is one that you love running every single day.
You will hate your cofounders.
Okay, this one is much easier for me to explain. If you’ve ever tried to do anything with another person, whether it be playing a pickup game of basketball with some friends or picking out furniture with your spouse, there is going to be a moment where tempers get heated and you may get a teensy bit angry at the other person.
And when money, livelihoods and dreams are involved… well, you can just crank that emotional dial to "11" and hope for the best.
You will fight with your cofounders, you will yell at your cofounders and you will absolutely believe that your cofounders are idiots. And at times, you’ll most likely hate your cofounders just a little bit. And in those moments where your main support in running your company is at odds with you, if all you can fall back on is: “I’m in this for the payout because Entrepreneur Magazine said my industry is hot for acquisitions right now!”, then you’re doubly screwed.
Both you and your cofounders need to have a common love for the company and a common goal you’re working towards. Because if you’re all in it for the money, emotions will get the better of you and you will fail. And that’s why the only company you should start is one you love.
You will hate yourself.
And now we come to the hardest one of all and the one that I’m pretty sure every entrepreneur will experience. You will hate yourself. You will be forced to make decisions like firings, layoffs, cutbacks and other difficult moves that will impact the lives of people you care about. And you’ll have to do it because it will be for the good of the company. And you will talk to anyone who will listen and ask for advice and try to make yourself feel better about the decisions that need to be made.
But in the end the decision will be up to you. And you will hate yourself for it. You will put an inordinate amount of blame on yourself because, hell… we’re entrepreneurs, that’s just what we do. And that blame and guilt will weigh you down and make you more depressed than you’ve ever been before. And when you’re in that pit of despair and self-loathing, if all you have to cling to is: “I’m in this because Entrepreneur Magazine said I have the top 10 traits of being an entrepreneur”, then you’re out of luck.
Because more so than any of the other reasons I’ve already given, when you hate yourself and hate what you need to do, the only thing, and I really do mean the only thing, that will get you through those experiences will be an undying love for your company, your customers, the people you work with, your cofounders and the work you do on a daily basis.
And if for one second you think that an article is going to instill that ridiculous level of love that is required to make it through the hard times, then you’ve already lost. Instead, start with what you love then go from there. Don’t read these lists and articles as guidebooks for what you should do, but rather use them as affirmation that you’re doing the right thing and that you made the right choice. But make sure that choice is made before you go looking for ideas in a listicle.