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Stop glamorising entrepreneurship like it’s the only way to be ‘successful’

There's nothing wrong with choosing happiness over side hustles after a full day of work – especially when statistics tell us 90% of new businesses fail within the first year...

You see – I’m a firm believer that prospective entrepreneurs should know what the real risks are when starting a business and very few people actually tell you. I see it like this: if you view entrepreneurship as the ‘medicine’ to treat unemployment, growth in the economy, wealth creation etc., then, like medicine, it should come with a warning label something along the lines of ‘Starting your own business will likely lead to loss of money; loss of family; loss of friends; loss of fun; loss of confidence – oh and there’s a less than 4% chance it will work’. Would as many people sign up? I’d like to think so, but at least those who did would do so with their eyes wide open.

Entrepreneurship isn’t cool; it’s insanely hard and the sacrifices are brutal and the warning signs universally missing.

I’m on my third business. I have 25 people on the payroll and I’ve raised in excess of $10,000,000 in investment – worthy of a round of applause, certainly from my parents anyway but the reality – yeah, that’s quite different. My friendship group is smaller than it’s ever been, I spend most weekends in my pyjamas longing to sleep, I then feel guilty that I haven’t spent that time with my elderly parents who I’m fortunate to have live 10 minutes away, or my husband who I know is wondering when his wife will actually get dressed up for a date night.

I think the saddest side effect of glamorising entrepreneurship is that, when people are led to believe that funding, a good business plan or a weekend course will lead to success in the shortest period possible, they are never ready for the reality of the journey – a journey which is hard work, has more downs than ups, needs perseverance, and a playing field that always seems to be tilted upward. I’ve watched entrepreneurs I’ve long admired being wounded (some mortally) as they encounter a reality for which they weren’t prepared, leaving absolute devastation, destroying confidence and ultimately capital. Subsequently, I can’t help but feel like I have a responsibility to everyone, particularly women, coming up behind me to put a stop to this damaging behaviour and stop spreading the false mythology that business plans and funding are the magical elixirs to success.

Amy Wilkinson-Lough is the Founder of Project bYouty

Before you do anything, sign anything, spend anything, register anything or even buy that IG handle, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  • Are you willing to spend significantly less time with your friends and family and absorb the guilt that comes with that?
  • The huge pay cut you’ll need to take whilst you’re in the proof of concept phase – can you survive on it without spiraling?
  • If everything goes south – can you/will you survive physically, financially and above all mentally?
  • Will you know when it’s time to say ‘This isn’t working, I’m done’? And walk away?

If you’ve answered with an unwavering yes to all of the above then know this I’m proud of you, I’m cheering you on and if I can do anything to help – you just have to shout.

By Amy Wilkinson-Lough, Founder of Project bYouty