There is this understanding among us, the people, that running an online business, or business of any sort, is this super-duper thing. That if you write inside your Twitter bio that you’re an entrepreneur you’re immediately considered as a badass. You get invited to cool parties. You travel the world. Do work that is wonderfully fulfilling and you’ll have this little blue thingie next to your name on your social media profile. However, when we start a project, run a startup – even if we’re the only employee in this company – we see that things are way different than what we expected.
It’s understandable that we think this way, actually. The net is flooded by guys and girls who put “entrepreneur” in their Twitter bio and share things in their social media profiles. Posts and videos about their perfect, super awesome life. It’s like they figured out life. They found the missing piece of the puzzle, that we, the average people, are so restlessly looking for.
I felt super inspired when I started my first blog. I thought that I’m somehow entering this secret group of awesome people who are doing only cool shit. That people will soon start to chase me over social media and call me a guru. I also thought that my everyday life will be somehow magical, that I will ride unicorns and shit.
After a few failed projects and a couple of others that I’ve abandoned, I finally realized that running an online project is quite boring.
Let me tell you why:
What People Think Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders do
First, let’s see what the society thinks entrepreneurs and online business owners do:
When you open social media, visit a conference, you’ll hear all these people talking about how great it is to be self-employed, make a difference in the world while living life in your own terms.
Youngsters and people who read self-help books all the time love to romanticize about the entrepreneurial industry.
I want to change the world.
I want to be better than everyone.
I hate the 9 to 5 work. It’s super boring and I’m not making a difference.
And it’s actually quite normal.
Nowadays, nobody wants to work for the government, the military, the police, in an office. We already know how these types of lives look like: Getting up early in the morning; preparing your clothes; driving the same route; doing the same work; earning the same amount of money; going once per year on vacation.
Even if we’re 15, we know that this life is super boring. We hate it because our parents hate it and they were hating it since we’re born:
“Gosh, I hate my job, my boss, the coffee, the fricking fax machine.”1
20 years ago, we had no other option. People were bound to sit somewhere for 8 hours and handle paper. But it was kind of OK. Your neighbor, your friends, the cousin you hate, they were all doing the same boring work for a living. So, our best guess was that that’s simply life. There is nothing else. You wake up, you do something you hate, you go back home. Still, people were kind of happy about all of this.
“Since my neighbor is also miserable and also doing shit for a living, I’m happy with my life.”
Despite the obvious benefits, this innovation in the world has few downsides.
We no longer compare ourselves with the person living next to us. While we scroll through social media we compare our lives with the life of the other people who inhabit this land.
And gosh, when you do the above it seems like your life totally sucks: you’re poor, you don’t have what to wear, your body is still not perfect, you don’t know where are your car keys not to mention what’s your meaning.
So you look for advice from these seemingly fulfilled online guys.
It’s no longer a secret that you can earn money while sitting in your apartment. There are numerous online hustlers that share with us their lives and how they were able to “make it”.
When you look around – by around I mostly refer to social media – it seems like everyone is hustling.
There are thousands of successful online entrepreneurs that are preaching the better life. The “your way” type of life.
“You can do whatever you want.”
“You can make a difference in the world.”
“You don’t have to sit behind a desk from 9 to 5, you can live your life on your own terms.”
We check their social media feed, we read their books, we attend their conferences, and it all looks glamorous. Their life looks like everything we desire: freedom, money, inspiring and meaningful work.
When I created my first website, I wanted everything they wanted. I wanted the fame, the money, the feeling that I’m making a difference.
I was ready to take on the world and do big, exciting things that I believe in.
After only a few months, I realized, that it’s way different than what I see on social media.
I took me probably a year to put everything together and understand that what I’m seeing on social media is probably 5% of the life of these superstars. The other 95% is a combination of hard work and patience.
What Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders Actually Do
The guys from The Hustle – daily emails to keep you informed about news – reached 1,000,000 subscribers and they put together a blog post sharing what they’ve learned along the way.2
One of the advice they share inside the blog post fully resonates with what I’m trying to make here as a point:
A reader once came to our office and said, “Man, I thought you guys would be goofing off or doing fun stuff…but you’re just sitting at your desks working.” Building a business takes a long period of consistent effort. Months, years, decades. There are lots of ups and downs, but most days are the same and it’s important to keep emotions steady. This means that not only does it appear to be not exciting to outsiders, it may look quite boring.” Sam
Another notable example is how the writer James Clear was able to reach 5 million readers per year on his website:3
For nearly three years, I have written a new article on JamesClear.com every Monday and every Thursday.
James Clear was writing for 3 years, twice per week. That’s 144 weeks and close to 300 blog posts.
If you check his social media profile you won’t quite feel the amount of work he put to become what he is today – inspiring writer and world traveler.
You will notice the cool pictures, the places he visited and most probably wish his life. But, as we already mentioned, before this all happened, there was quite a struggle involved.
Writing, every single day of your life, or twice per week as in his case for 3 years without fizzling out, requires a lot of willpower.
Running A Business is Boring
One of the main reasons people quit a few months after they start a company of some sort is the weary daily duties.
That’s the main reason I stopped updating my previous websites.4
I started super-excited, pumped up, ready to “make a difference”. However, after writing articles for only a few months I realized that this type of work is not that exciting.
“Where are the cameras? The fame? The fortune?”
That’s what I thought.
But it was too early to ask such questions. I had to continue my work if I really wanted to reach success and make a difference. I refused client work because I wanted to work only with people who I like. I was young and silly. I wasn’t ready for the next level.
And the next level usually means acknowledging that good things happen when we become aware that real success and lasting results come only after we’re ready to execute the boring daily tasks.
If we really want to succeed, the grind never goes away.
I don’t know how I missed understanding this earlier.
It’s super obvious.
I looked at the successful writers and I dreamed of becoming such. I thought that it will be amazing to see my name printed on a cover of a book. At the same time, I never really consider what’s involved in the book writing process. Even though it’s super obvious, I was blind about this.
And what’s that?
If I wanted to become a writer, I had to write.
But not simply writing. Writing every single day.
This statement is not preserved only for becoming a writer, it’s also about becoming whatever you want to become.
The process is the same in every category. In every area where we seek success. The only difference is the executed tasks:
Writers, write. Great writers write every day;
Bloggers, blog. Great bloggers blog every day;
Youtubbers, shoot videos. Great YouTubbers shoot videos every day;
Chefs, cook. Great chefs cook every day;
Football players, play football regularly. Great football players practice every day;
Basketball players, play basketball regularly. Great basketball players practice every day;
And do you know what’s wrong with the above?
It’s fucking boring.
You wake up, you brush your teeth and you go to the gym, start writing, or whatever you’re doing. Next day you do the same. The day after tomorrow? The same process.
The secret formula of success is not hidden in expensive video courses, books, conferences, or one on one coaching sessions. It’s your ability to repeatedly do work that will eventually become boring.
No matter how much you love writing, playing football, cooking, at some point the grind will try to take over. Your mind will try to convince your body that it’s not worth it.
“Come on dude. Are we seriously going to write, again?! There is this cool new video game that was just announced. Let’s prepare a large burger and play the whole day. What do you say?”
Such thoughts circle in my mind constantly. I’m positive that they are also present in the minds of other people – like really successful people – no matter how many years they’re in the business.
We hear all these success stories about people starting a business and how they’ve become super rich and famous. However, these people rarely share how many years they’ve spent doing the same boring work, day in, day out.
Even if they do share, we never really listen. We see the yachts, the expensive watches and we want the same thing. The same lifestyle.
We want it all but we don’t consider what’s behind all of this. We don’t see all the boring paperwork. All the hours spent doing tasks that are really dull. The sweat, the tears, the struggle, the pain.
No matter what you choose to become as a person, what will be your goal in life. There are always going to be things that have to be done repeatedly.
Achieving the desired success will lead you to a place where you’ll be doing the same work, over and over again, for days, months, for sometimes even years. And no one will care a lot of times.
Because the work we do, no matter whether we’ll work for a company or for ourselves, will still be work. And a lot of times it will feel quite boring.
That’s what we repeatedly hear from our parents when we’re young and we can’t afford a condo. It’s like watching the same episode, over and over again, of the worst TV series.
I read their newsletter quite regularly and it’s super awesome. You can see the article I’m referring to by visiting this link.
I really love the articles by James Clear. If you still haven’t read anything he have written, make sure to check this site: JamesClear.com
I lost count how many sites I’ve abandoned throughout the years. Probably 5. I put a lot of work for around a year and then suddenly, I have this cool new idea that seems “way better” than what I’m currently doing. What a waste of time.