The Loneliness of Entrepreneurship That Nobody Talks About | Hacker Noon

Daniel Chae Hacker Noon profile picture

Entrepreneurship is a funny thing. It’s glamourized in every way. Our culture loves to talk about sexy product launches and monthly revenue. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take part in perpetuating that culture.

Nine months ago, I dived headfirst into the world of entrepreneurship. I validated ideas and talked to real people. I spent more time on Reddit than I’d like to admit. I started building an audience. I’ve made more progress as an entrepreneur than I ever thought possible.

That said, the last nine months could not have been more lonely. I spent more time questioning my abilities and worth than ever before. I felt broken and incomplete because of my perceived lack of progress. I spent many nights wondering why I felt so alone.

Building your own thing is an incredible experience. But you only feel that way 5% of the time. Most of the journey is lonesome and difficult. In the rest of this article, I’m going to share how lonely life felt in my pursuit of becoming an entrepreneur. I’ll also share the most important lessons I learned.

You Have to Put Entrepreneurial Loneliness in Context 

If you’re an entrepreneur, you have to remember you’re doing something most people don’t do.

Most people work a 9–5 job. Most people spend their mornings getting ready for their 9–5 and then work their job. Normal people might then have a handful of evenings free. They might spend them socializing or doing something at their leisure. They go to sleep and then wake up and do it all over again the next day. The weekend might hold a handful of fun activities.

Entrepreneurs might do all the above and also make time to work on their business. Plenty of entrepreneurs clock in 40+ hours on their own business on top of their 9–5. Getting ready in the morning might include writing and calling clients. Evenings might include partnership calls and product planning.

As for me, I’ll write for a couple of hours before I start work. I’m currently focused on content creation so I spend this time planning, editing, and writing. I’ll go through my workday and then jump back into my side hustle in the evening. I spend this time networking and reaching out to other people in my space. When the weekends come, I’ll take the occasional breather to relax from my week. But most weekends I’ll spend writing and planning the next phase of my side hustle.

Most of the time I’m working on my side hustle, I feel pretty lonely. But I feel better about my loneliness when I put it in the context of a normal life. I realize that my work has a potential payoff. I’m not making myself miserable for no reason. Even the small chance of success motivates me to keep going.

Lean sometimes mean lonely.

If an entrepreneur starts with a lot of money, they’ll have an easier time building their business. They could throw money at their marketing plan and grow like clockwork. They could hire a handful of people to perform all necessary business functions. But for those just starting out, resources can be scarce. This scarcity forces entrepreneurs to be lean. They need to be the product, marketing, sales, and engineering all at once. They have to make the most out of the hours they have left in the week. Lean inherently means lonely. 

For me, I don’t have the luxury of hiring a content team to build my audience. I can’t hire a development team to customize my website with every ideal feature. I can’t partner with a user research team to empathize with my target audience. I write and promote content myself. I look up YouTube tutorials to build a scrappy version of my website. I spend more time on Reddit than I’d like to admit.

The nature of being an entrepreneur is to be lean. If you want to be lean, it often means starting off alone. 

100% ownership of a business has to start with you. 

No one will be more committed to your success than you will be. No one is going to come along and build your business for you. When you first start your business, you’ll have to go at it alone. If you find a co-founder, even better. Even then, the two of you will have to at the business alone until you can prove to others you’ll be successful.

As I considered jumping into entrepreneurship, I had a lot of people excited for me. They were really encouraging and would tell me how I was cut out for starting a business. But none of those people helped me get my side hustle off the ground. The nature of starting my side hustle was that I had to go at things alone. I had to plan the key steps. I had to put pen to paper. I’m committed to keep going until I can prove value and earn the trust of future employees.

Closing Thoughts

Entrepreneurship is lonely, but it’s not without reward. Most days are going to be lonesome and difficult to push through. My encouragement to you is to stay consistent and keep pressing on the best you can. If you’re considering jumping into entrepreneurship, there’s never been a better time to hop in. The time to start is now!

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