Several years ago on a Tuesday just like any other, I met Lucy. She was stick thin, wore her hair in a short ponytail, and had a big frown on her face. But even though Lucy seemed to be the picture of unapproachable, there was something about her that was quite charming and relatable. So I decided to go introduce myself and ask, "Why so blue Lucy?" As a university student, Lucy set out to be an entrepreneur, a path that was hopefully going to allow her to travel the world and retire at the ripe age of 30. However, time went on and ideas and plans kept falling through. Lucy finally did what she feared the most: she compromised. Now 28, Lucy traded in her wild ambitions and boundless imagination for a job where she feels trapped. Needless to say, Lucy wasn't very happy. Lucy had read every article on entrepreneurship and checked every box. She pursued what she loved and took risks. Even her parents and all her friends believed that she would be hugely successful. So where did it go wrong? Was it that her parents had asked too much of her? Or perhaps, could it be that her entire generation was unrealistic with their expectations of the world? But before we go blaming entire generations for what went wrong In Lucy’s plan, let’s take a look at entrepreneurship as a whole. TheGlobal Entrepreneurship Monitor(GEM) tracks entrepreneurial activity based on individual behaviors and attitudes in their respective nations. According to data compiled by GEM, there has been a rather wide digression in entrepreneurial perception amongst Americans since the 2008 financial crisis. The Perceived Opportunities Figure(which tracks individuals aged 18-64 who see good business opportunities where they live) skyrocketed since the recession while the Perceived Capabilities total remained relatively flat and actually declined slightly. Simply put, a lot more people thought there were good business opportunities, but that entrepreneurship just wasn’t for them. All right then, more people have realized that becoming an entrepreneur is difficult. Great. However, the number of new small businesses has also increased significantly during this same time frame. So what gives? It appears as though new entrepreneurs understand that their journey won’t be all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn valuations. Starting a new venture can mean taking out the trash or doing mundane tasks that were never part of the business plan. They say to do what you love and it will never feel like work. But truth is, most of the day-to-day tasks involved with starting a new business won’t even be mildly enjoyable. Yet these entrepreneurs persevere because they, like Lucy, believe that they are special and hold the ability to affect change. They fell in love with the way they see the world, and the millions that they may or may not ever see pales in comparison to the wealth they’ve already gained. Sincerely, A Starving Student
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