7 EO members share what they wish non-entrepreneurs knew about entrepreneurs

early-stage entrepreneurs

Contributed by Kym Huynh, an EO Melbourne member, EO Global Communications Committee member, and co-founder of WeTeachMe. Kym is fascinated by entrepreneurs and their journeys, so he asked EO members from various chapters to share their entrepreneurial experiences. In this first installment of Kym Huynh’s Leadership Toolkit series, Kym asked what entrepreneurs wished non-entrepreneurs knew about them.

We asked successful entrepreneurs from EO chapters around the world, “What’s something you wish people knew about what it’s like being an entrepreneur?”

Here’s what they shared:

There’s more to being an entrepreneur than drinking champagne

The amount of energy required, the number of sleepless nights, the constant questions in our minds, the constant search to improve, and the sense of responsibility that an entrepreneur carries on their shoulders are aspects that most people do not see nor understand.

— Andrea Grisdale, EO Italy, founder and CEO of IC Bellagio 

Entrepreneurs top most health statistics—on the wrong side

Being an entrepreneur is a privilege that affords us a lifestyle that most people think they would love. What many don’t understand is the personal cost. 

Entrepreneurs top most health statistics on the wrong side, particularly for mental health. Two-thirds of entrepreneurs have a diagnosed mental health condition, and nearly 50 percent of us endure two mental health conditions. We also have higher rates of heart attacks and cancer than most of the people who work for us.

Stress and diet are the two most significant contributors to the state of health in the western world. As entrepreneurs, we must be cognizant of the impact of stress and do everything that we can to offset it. This ranges from diet to mindfulness and exercise, to knowing how to switch off. The way I see it, there is no point in being successful financially and not having good health.

— Ben Ridler, EO New Zealand, founder of The Growth Shop

The mind of an entrepreneur is both a gift and a curse

I wish people understood the sheer amount of thought pattern processes and activity in the mind of an entrepreneur, and the way they see opportunities when others don’t. It’s the gift, and at the same time the curse, of an entrepreneur.

A typical adult thinks approximately 70,000–80,000 thoughts each day. I often feel that 140,000 thoughts go through my mind before lunchtime, so I think the biggest thing is understanding how to harness that entrepreneurial energy and enthusiasm.

While the entrepreneurial mind is definitely more scattered, the part of the brain that triggers fear around risk is often more relaxed in an entrepreneur and, although they will be calculated, they are still stronger risk-takers than others.

— Daniel Dickson, EO Sydney, managing director of Amarco Enterprises

You’re working 80+ hours a week for yourself to avoid working 40 hours for someone else

Being an entrepreneur means you’re basically working 80+ hours a week for yourself so that you avoid working 40 or so hours for someone else.

So make sure you really care about the problem you’re solving—because you’re going to be tested many times throughout your journey.

— David Fastuca, EO Melbourne, founder of Ambisie and Locomote

If you change the way you look at the world, your world will change

Being an entrepreneur gives you countless opportunities to practice making conscious and intentional choices in 1) keeping things simple and 2) choosing how you approach problems and react to events.

The act of keeping things simple is complex (and, dare I say, the ultimate sophistication). Simple problems require simple solutions. Complex problems require even simpler solutions. This type of thinking is rare.

How you look at the world is how you experience the world. In other words, if you change the way you look at the world, your world will change.

For example, where one sees obstacles and problems, another sees opportunities for learning and growth. In the former, life is a struggle. In the latter, life is a journey of learning, expansion and growth.

— Kym Huynh, EO Melbourne, founder of WeTeachMe

No one sees the grind, the long nights working while your partner and children sleep, and the hours glued to the computer while friends are out having fun

As an entrepreneur, you have a blank canvas to build your future. You have the freedom to create a lifestyle and business you’ve always dreamed of, and once you’ve been at it for a while, you really get to see what you’re made of.

For an entrepreneur, working a “normal” 9 to 5 job is never enough. The thrill of the hunt, and working and grinding like you’ve never known possible is so ultimately satisfying that it makes all the long days and nights worth the struggle.

For me, any challenge or roadblock is just another opportunity to buckle down, problem-solve, and work my way through any situation that I would have considered impossible in the past. It’s the ultimate opportunity to prove who you really are and show yourself what you’re made of and capable of.

— Matt Woods, EO Vancouver, president of Coastal Mountain Excavation

Entrepreneurs want to change the world

Many people start their entrepreneurial journey reading about someone successful and thinking, “I want to be rich and time-free like him/her”. Then once their business starts, reality hits extremely hard because they discover that the two things they don’t have are money and time. Ironic, isn’t it?

Then there are some who start their business because they have a different driver, motive or purpose, and no matter how hard things get, they keep on keeping on.

Steve Jobs once said: “Entrepreneurs are the crazy ones. The ones who push the boundaries. Who don’t say no. Who never seem to die.”

Entrepreneurship is tough! On many days most of us will say, “This is not worth it,” because it affects not only ourselves but everything and everyone around us. But those of us who are successful push forward because in some way, we want to change the world—even just a little bit.

— Raymond Chou, EO Malaysia, founder and CEO of Infront Consulting 

Entrepreneurs can “see the future”

If estimates are correct and entrepreneurs make up about  8 percent of the population, then 92 percent are non-entrepreneurs–who all think very much the same way. Non-entrepreneurs do not realize that entrepreneurs think quite differently.

Entrepreneurs can see the future, well before others even start the process. So, entrepreneurs see the end result and go backwards to the starting position, while non-entrepreneurs start at the beginning and work through a process.

The entrepreneur’s mind does the analysis so quickly that it arrives at the end result within seconds. Once non-entrepreneurs understand this, they can go through the process from the beginning, as a double-check on the entrepreneur’s end result (when they work together).

One caveat: the entrepreneur’s end result is not always right, so the non-entrepreneur’s check is important, but it shouldn’t slow down the entrepreneur in moving forward.

— Tony Falkenstein, EO New Zealand, founder and CEO of Just Life Group and CEO of Just Water

This post originally appeared on Kym Huynh’s Leadership Toolkit blog and is edited and reposted here with permission.

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