Hi! I am a first generation stand-up comedian. The only comedy my parents ever did was to create me.
This post is specifically about first generation entrepreneurs, from my experience. If you are a second generation entrepreneur and you got a lot of money on the platter to grow the business, this doesn’t apply. Don’t read. I am insisting. Don’t read. Okay, whatever! Even porn sites can’t stop people under 18 from watching their videos. How can I stop you from reading it!
If you are a first generation entrepreneur in India especially, since this post would largely have Indian context since I happen to be an Indian, I am surprised by your courage to go on your own. If you come from a family of government or semi-government servants, who had servility in their blood, you are super cool/retarded to have had the guts to try and roll on your own.
No, I am educated. But comedy spoiled me. So, don’t mind my language. I don’t care a fuck if you do.
So, what are the challenges faced by entrepreneurs who come from a non-business background?
1. “Why are the fuck are you doing this?”-Family
Families where nobody has ever done business on their own freak out when someone decides to go solo. Building something on your own, whether its business, or a comedy career takes a lot of patience, investment of time and money. The money receivables is erratic and painful.
Since these families are used to regular money coming from salaries, they start losing their nerves when there is no money coming in, or there is a slump in the market.
Not just family, it’s tough for you as well, since you need money to keep going towards the reason you started the business in the first place.
In my case, I need money coming in from shows regularly, to be able to travel for shows, to invest in videos, to eat, among other things, and keep myself creative.
2. Ups and downs of the market
The ups and down hit you more than they would hit someone who has a capital cushion. The smaller your capital cushion, the more scared you are to take risks. I think it is called cash flow in business terms, but I have never been good at geography.
It is important to have some cash in the bank for the months where nothing comes in in terms of work.
3. Networking for fuck’s sake
You need to network, network and network! Now, it is difficult to network if you are not used to it. Networking is a skill which could easily lead to creepiness at times, but there is no way to go around it.
You need to meet people and you need to introduce yourself, and if they care enough, they may want to check out or your services out. No, frankly, it is a useful skill. Build it. I am trying. Hi, how are you?
4. Depression-don’t die yet
Look guys, this entire shit is tough. Working for yourself is not what the doctor ordered. Your family and friends wanted you to keep your job and not quit because they perhaps knew that they didn’t have what it takes to support you because their appetite for risks is way smaller than yours.
In fact they don’t have a risk appetite. So at multiples times, you will feel lonely and that nobody understands you. Now, I am not saying that somebody understands you and it is a wrong feeling, but keep yourself strong.
I am a fan of people who have built businesses on their own through tough times and they made it work. Everybody goes through shit, but only a few emerge triumphant out of it. Hang in, there.
If you feel that you are not able to manage things, talk to someone. Get back to a job if financial difficulties are bogging you down and it is creating a mess in your everyday life.
Just don’t die. You are a star! You have dared to have a shot at your dreams. You are a star, my friend. I LOVE YOU.
5. Erratic schedules
Since you are your own boss, it is important to create a disciplined schedule. You need to know at what times, what needs to be achieved. Slack could settle in, in the absence of discipline and invariably it does.
So, dust yourself off, and create a schedule which allows you to work at your maximum potential. This must include 7–8 hours of sleep, exercise every day and healthy food. Nothing works without a healthy mind and body. Don’t waste it.
6. Temporary setbacks
There will be times when you will feel that your decision to leave a comfortable job sucked and you shouldn’t be doing what you are doing. You will feel like pulling all your hair and sinking in them.
Like I mentioned in the depression point above, don’t die yet. Stay in a positive mental state, whatever it takes. Even if you have to go back, do not make yourself feel EVER that giving a shot at your dreams was a bad decision.
It was NEVER a bad decision. Repeat it to yourself.
7. Your girlfriend/your wife is freaking out
This is fair. Look! Women who choose to stay with us while we take the risks to pursue our dreams, are angels. There are very few out there who do, because a lot of pretty women, could settle for wealthy men who have settled lives.
Do not blame your women for behaving the way they do. It is tough for you, and it is tough for them too. They are holding up a lot of their dreams, for your dreams. Don’t blame them if they freak out. Figure out a balance, whatever it is.
8. The competition is winning
Now, this is a problem that is real. You need to figure out what’s happening and where you are going wrong. If your product is strong, then you are lacking in marketing. Marketing cannot work without a strong enough product. Personally, I feel my networking skills are a weakness and because of that, I have not been able to push my comedy to the level it should have reached.
I am a terrible at networking. I just can’t stand most people. That doesn’t help. I need to improve at small talk. How’s your cat doing?
9. You can’t find a balance between personal and work lives
Your social life is dead long back. You can’t meet your B-school friends because they are busy raising kids while you are trying to build a business or something of your own. You can’t make friends with a lot of new people now. Your partners are frustrated that you are always talking about work and they can’t take it anymore.
Go one step at a time. Try to dedicate time to your personal and social lives. Lives need a balance, even when you are building your business.
10. You don’t remember why you started in the first place
You forget things in the rush of what’s happening. You forget why you started in the first place. You started because you thought you will be able to create a free life for yourself and for your family.
Things got tough and you forgot the important questions you asked yourself before you started on the journey. Rekindle those questions, and you will feel better about yourself, no matter where you stand.
We have almost come to the end of the piece. I salute you, my friend for having a shot at your dreams.
There are only a few people in the world who have this courage. You succeeded, or it’s taking time, or you will come back again, I admire you for having contributed positively to the history of the world, and to your history!
I wish, that all your dreams come true.
If you liked the post, please clap, so that I know that you were here. If you want to tell me how you felt, please comment. Thank you. I am a writer and stand-up comedian based in India. If I can help your work, or write for you, or make you laugh, get in touch.