Early Birds Catch the Worm: The Entrepreneurial Life and Why it is Better Than the 9 to 5 : Under30CEO Early Birds Catch the Worm: The Entrepreneurial Life and Why it is Better Than the 9 to 5 : Under30CEO
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Early Birds Catch the Worm: The Entrepreneurial Life and Why it is Better Than the 9 to 5

| July 30, 2012 | 19 Comments

Living the life of an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. To give a brief overview there are a lot of late nights, juggling of responsibilities and pots of coffee involved. You find yourself paying your first loyal employees with pizza and beer and paying yourself less. As an entrepreneur myself, I find myself waking up at 7 a.m. and going to bed at 1 a.m. nearly every night while still trying to maintain a social life. Early mornings and late nights become the norm and to be frank, you never really quite get used to it.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “why would I ever sacrifice my Happy Hour Thursdays and movie night Mondays for the start-up life?” Well, it really comes down to the passion, the drive, and the enthusiasm that you have for not only your idea, but your life.

Let’s first talk about passion. Whenever I talk to my friends about my venture, I often receive the reactions of, “Why would you put so much time and energy into something that may not even end up working out?” and, “That’s great, but that’s not for me. I would never want to risk the security I have with my 9-5 job.” It turned out that those friends had cubicle jobs or internships that involved repeating the same tasks every single day, not allowing any input or ideas. Without a doubt, something that unites all entrepreneurs is the passion for what they do. Whether their start-up involves green technology or fashion, the founders all love their topic of interest and chances are they know the space inside and out. A truly passionate entrepreneur would never think twice about choosing job security over pursuing what they absolutely love.

Second, is drive. When you talk to entrepreneurs the word “hunger” is often thrown around as it is a reflection of what co-founders feel when taking on a venture. The hunger to work is what you feel when you wake up every morning excited for the busy day ahead. It’s driving force that keeps you awake when yours eyelids become heavy on a late night at the office. The pure drive you have to grow your company is what makes entrepreneurs blind to all the elements that corporate interns have nightmares about. Working out of your basement or garage and riding a bike to work every day are things that a lot of people wouldn’t be comfortable doing. However, entrepreneurs with a drive don’t seem to mind as shown by Steve jobs, Bill Gates and Larry Page. It’s all about getting the task done and achieving those initial milestones.

Lastly, enthusiasm is key. Through my own experiences of meeting with a lot of entrepreneurs, it’s pretty easy to know which ones are doing it for the money and which ones are doing it to make a difference and to pursue their dream. I usually stay in touch with the entrepreneurs I meet and as I track their progress, it’s becoming a trend to see the ones in it for the money to lose focus and momentum. Motives can often make or break a start-up. I was at a networking event once and I met an entrepreneur who literally seemed to be in love with his business. All he talked about was how great he thought the impact could be and how it would change lives for the better. All night, he jotted down notes whenever someone made a suggestion or comment on his business. A year later, his business is thriving and has clients all over the world. I had never seen such enthusiasm from an entrepreneur; I have also never seen such growth over the course of just one year.

These three elements go hand in hand in the start-up world. A safe desk job might be nice if you haven’t yet found what you really want to do. However, once you do, working out of your garage won’t be a big deal and when your friend comments on your bloodshot eyes it’ll be a friendly reminder that you are indeed passionate, driven, and enthusiastic about your start-up.

Caroline is the co-founder of VirtualU, a start-up focused on integrating 3D human analysis technology into the retail industry. She’s also working on entrepreneurship initiatives in her home state of Virginia. She can be reached at cpugh@virtualu.co and on Twitter @Caroline_Pugh

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Category: Personal Branding, Startup Advice

  • http://twitter.com/KenyanMarketer Muthuri Kinyamu

    Amen to this! You’ve given the much needed strength to move on!

  • http://twitter.com/awoo23 andrew woo

    Good post Caroline. What about entrepreneurs that do it because they can’t stand a 9-5? I guess that’s like being passionate about freedom :)

  • Matt

    I see your point, but have to disagree. I’ve seen too many reports, especially recently, about the importance of sleep first and foremost in being an effective leader, let alone employee. As well, the balance between work and life is blurring more and more by the day with the consumerization of IT. I could see working at 7AM and working at 1AM, but not straight through. There shoudn’t be repeating instances that a late night proposal or deal is a make or break for your company. If you find yourself in those positions regularly causing late nights because something truly does need done or your company won’t succeed, then it might be time to revisit the business plan before burning any more of the midnight oil.

    With all of that said, I wish I could say I practiced what I preach, but alas, I don’t. I’m locked into the non stop, wake up, work, work, and do some more work, until going to be late at night, and as you stated, it’s because I’m passionate for what I do. My current goal, along with many other working americans it seems, is to find the proper balance between work and life, as that can define your success greater than a single focus on your job. In my opinion of course.

  • Eric

    Its great when you give 110% and you really just don’t mind.  It becomes part of what you do instead of a giant sacrifice.

  • http://twitter.com/bauermarty Marty Bauer

    Matt, your response is exactly what Caroline is talking about in her post.  Building a company is a different mindset.  If someone believes that anyone working 7am-1am daily is what entrepreneurship is about, they don’t get it.  It is about seeing a big problem and doing something about it.  Some days that means 7am – 1am, other days that means much less.  Anyone who works 7am – 1am everyday is either mentally imbalanced or lying.  But the all day hustle happens more often than not when launching a new startup.  However, what I took Caroline’s post to mean is that life on the other side is about having the passion and mambas to do it. Not hiding behind a desk and bi-weekly paycheck.
    Having worked the 9-5 (we know that’s not true anyway) life we both know that there will always be more work to do, for someone else’s benefit. But jumping out is not for everyone.  
    Either way, I commend you for being passionate about what you do. The world would be a better place if there were more people with your work habits :) .

  • http://Under30CEO.com Jared O’Toole

    Hey Matt thanks for the comment. We’ve had a bunch of discussion on Under30CEO recently about how much entrepreneurs work. I think the key thing is how work is defined. I don’t believe that as a passionate entrepreneur you end up spending 7am -1am each day behind a desk grinding out reports or proposals. However, many times you feel like you spend all day working because the business is simply on your mind…ideas, thoughts, strategies and opportunities are just everywhere you look. 

    We had a poll this weekend where almost 90% of people said they work on their business every single day…weekends & vacation included. I fall into that group but when I’m on the beach drinking a beer and jotting down thoughts on a note pad I can’t say I’m in a bad place…

  • Jaredhalpert90

    Awesome post Caroline!

  • Jaredhalpert90

    Awesome post Caroline!

  • Jaredhalpert90

    Awesome post Caroline!

  • Jaredhalpert90

    Awesome post Caroline!

  • http://twitter.com/francescastaana Francesca StaAna

    Great post. The reactions of your friends when you tell them about your venture are the exact same responses that I receive from my peers whenever I tell them that I don’t want another “job” and I want to quit to start my own business. 

  • Masroor

    A very encouraging article for entrepreneurs, I’m living in Afghanistan & I’ve always wanted to do establish a great business, This post encouraged me to start as of tomorrow. If I don’t do it, someone else is gonna do it

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Thanks Caroline for this inspirational post. “Early bird catches a worm” is so very true. Passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a change are awesome points for an entreprenuer. 

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Thanks Caroline for this inspirational post. “Early bird catches a worm” is so very true. Passion, enthusiasm and drive to make a change are awesome points for an entreprenuer. 

  • Jumaanebey

    “Early bird catches the worm but I am trying to get the bird! Nobody eats worms.” -Jumaane Bey

  • http://twitter.com/ChAvW Ch. Auer-Welsbach

    It is never too early, but very often too late to start a business, but realizing your idea is the best you can do, because as it’s said: 

    Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.https://www.facebook.com/INISMOcom/posts/407426192651252

  • http://twitter.com/ChAvW Ch. Auer-Welsbach

    It is never too early, but very often too late to start a business, but realizing your idea is the best you can do, because as it’s said: 

    Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.https://www.facebook.com/INISMOcom/posts/407426192651252

  • Hannah

    Yes, how about those? what do you guys think about entrepreneurs that quit the 9-5 life not just in pursuit of the potential monetary reward but also, more importantly, the freedom ?

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