The average person experiences a 24-hour day, 365 days a year, except for leap year. This passage through time is marked with 8-to-5 days, birthdays and holidays with symmetry that demonstrates a level of stability and consistency not commonly enjoyed by entrepreneurs.
It is often joked that entrepreneurs, like dogs, move through life at a faster pace.
It’s not just working more than a 40 hour week. Work can be its own opiate — put your head down and let the time fly by. It’s what you do with your time that is important. Each hour becomes a critical asset to be used wisely.
It is not just working for yourself. Although not having to waste half of one’s time addressing bureaucracies gives an entrepreneur an automatic productivity boost, being one’s own boss requires discipline to take advantage of this situation.
Is does include not being “fat and happy” — a description attributed to someone who does not worry about paying their bills. Wondering about how and when to meet payroll, hand a check to a creditor or buying a needed piece of equipment acts as a stress that amplifies ordinary events.
It does include being famous. Entrepreneurs enjoy being recognized for their achievements. This may be the equivalent of a rock star on the cover of Rolling Stone or simply respect of one’s peers — other entrepreneurs.
It does too often include wanting to get rich. Money is an often-touted metric of success for an entrepreneur. However, it is not so much the fact of making money, but doing something well that results in wealth.
Doing anything for the first time is a form of adventure — a bit of an adrenaline rush. The unknown is met and conquered every day. The entrepreneur is not just conducting experiments, but his or her life also is a continuing experiment.
With experimentation comes failure — business, financial and emotional. Entrepreneurs live on a roller coaster that presents different perspectives from one moment to the next. Occasionally, the entrepreneur enjoys success — price, happiness and sometimes financial rewards with public recognition. But success is never certain.
Entrepreneurs see more. The entrepreneur always has eyes open for opportunities to solve a problem and make the world a better place. Nothing is taken for granted. Nothing is accepted as finished. Every product, service or system can be made better — faster, more efficient, higher performance. Like a superhero or surface penetrating LIDAR, an entrepreneur sees a broader spectrum than the average person.
Entrepreneurs continually jump back and forth between today’s reality and tomorrow’s vision — living two lives. The contrast can be both an inspiration and a challenge. The delta between the way things are and the way things may be represents opportunities.
From my perspective, entrepreneurs do live a richer life — life at the speed of innovation. It’s not for everybody. Some people need day-to-day consistency. For those who enjoy a challenge and can live with uncertainty, then get your roller coaster ticket and buckle up!
Karl Dakin is principal with Dakin Capital Services LLC. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.