Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Great. Can You Stand The Pain?

Most people love to talk about their success, but few are willing to tell the story of their struggles.

Fewer people still will openly share the pain they endured before they “turned the corner” and became successful. This quote from Abraham Lincoln says it best:

 

Men are greedy to publish the successes of [their] efforts, but meanly shy as to publishing the failures of men. Men are ruined by this one-sided practice of concealment of blunders and failures.

 

My wish to share not only successes as a parent entrepreneur, but also my blunders and failures, so that other parent entrepreneurs might not repeat them, is why this blog exists.

Last week, my startup, WeMontage, got national television exposure, but the last six months leading up to this event have been among the most emotionally and financially challenging in my life. And it got so hard, I nearly cried. 

 

The Pain Of Investors Walking Away

I’ve written much on this blog about how I raised capital, then ran out of cash and my investors walked away.

During these last six months, I’ve watched a seemingly slow, consistent death of the business, with website traffic at a trickle some days, hardly any sales most days, and no resources to work on product features I think will increase traffic and convert visitors to paid customers.

 

The Pain of Running Out of Cash

Because sales have been über slow, I haven’t paid myself in over two months. I’ve heard stories of entrepreneurs having negative bank accounts, and having to go to the Coinstar machine to turn loose change into cash.

Been there, done that.

Still there in some ways.

This experience has challenged me on many levels and I’ve felt like I was staring into the abyss, with lots of questions, and no answers.

 

Sometimes It Feels Like Everything Is So F#*^ing Hard

I’ve known for months WeMontage would be featured on a weekday segment of the TODAY Show; this expectation is one of only a few things that has kept me hopeful things might turn around.

Originally, the TODAY Show segment was to air September 4th, which would have eased the emotional and financial pain sooner. Then it was rescheduled to a few weeks later. Then it was moved back another month.

 

Black and White Hurdles
Hurdle jumping is an essential skill for entrepreneurs.

 

A week before the TODAY Show segment was to air, the WeMontage website inexplicably stopped showing customer collages in the shopping cart, which meant no one was going to buy what they couldn’t see. I had no idea what the hell was going on at first, and my anxiety and frustration were on 10.

It turns out a key third-party application WeMontage uses made a change in response to an internet security issue, and they neglected to tell their customers. After a few days, we got that fixed and I breathed a bit easier.

Then six days before the segment, WeMontage almost got bumped because of a difficult producer at NBC.

I almost cried.

The thought of not getting on the TODAY Show was too much to bear after all the crap I’ve endured the last few months. Fortunately, some quick, creative thinking got the issue resolved and we were back on schedule for the segment.

At this point, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why does everything have to be so f#*^ing hard?!”

 

But Good Things Eventually Come To Those Who Hustle

luck and hustle matter

I’ve used this graphic so many times in this blog; it might be one of the things I insist be put on my tombstone.

Last Thursday, The TODAY Show and Mario Armstrong helped viewers get control of all their pictures, and recommended photo products.

Mario described WeMontage as his “highlight for 2014 for your images.” The immediate reaction has been phenomenal with WeMontage website conversions off the charts.

 

Here’s the TODAY Show segment:

 

 

So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur?

Everyone’s entrepreneurial journey is different. Some people enjoy great success with their ventures right away. Most people don’t-I haven’t. But I am optimistic things will turn for WeMontage. Especially with activity like this additional TV exposure on the DIY Network coming down the pike. Seeing this promo online is one more reason I am hopeful WeMontage will turn around:

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 7.04.09 AM

 

I’m determined to endure whatever pain comes my way, as long as it doesn’t detrimentally affect my family.

And I’m happy to share, so that others might learn from my mistakes, or be inspired by my experiences.

 

Many people think they want to be entrepreneurs. This is great. My question to them is: “Can you stand the pain?”

 

 

 

Photo credit: Feature Image – Steven Depolo PAIN Knuckle Tattoo 11-23-09 — IMG_9893. David Morris Black and White Hurdles

16 thoughts on “Want To Be An Entrepreneur? Great. Can You Stand The Pain?

  1. Great post, James. It certainly echoes many of the feelings I’ve had as well. I’m relatively new at the entrepreneurial life and it’s given me a new appreciation for what my husband has endured building his company over the past decade. This life is not for the faint of heart. I too often think why does it have to be so hard and why can’t people pay us on time. Getting clients to pay us in a timely manner is one of our biggest issues. But hey, nothing ventured nothing gained. Keep climbing. Keep fighting. Keep moving. You’re setting a great example for your twins and I have no doubt that the best is yet to come!

    1. Not for the faint of heart, indeed!

      I’m inspired by what you are doing, too, Angela. You can always call me, if you just need to vent. Thanks for the kind words and support.

  2. James, thanks for being transparent. I spent the better part of the last two weeks asking myself if I should go on and apply for that good government job. No pays, slow pays, 16 spec calls with potential clients that gleaned no income and amounted to 16 hours of my life wasted, former clients grumbling b/c they see my success with current clients, and my bills. You laugh-cry b/c of the frustration, and all the while, I see people slapping “entrepreneur” on their foreheads for much, much less in frustration and because it’s sexy. This ish ain’t sexy or pretty, but it’s my life. (kanye shrug) Blessings to all of the commenters and you, sir. When it all comes together, baby! You’re going to be just fine, but you’re going to be around for a long time. Adversity gives us that gift.

    1. Right on! Great comment. Not sure where to begin with my response.

      Some folks are for sure just playing entrepreneur. Like you said, this ish can be no joke. Hang in there, you’re obviously good at what you do. When I get some more dough in the bank, we should talk to see if there are any synergies.

      Thanks for the kind words and for connecting, too. Cheers!

  3. You are the king of pain (and hustle) James! I believe in you and your product. Just hold on and more big (huge!) things will come your way. As for me? No, I can only take physical pain, like the pain that comes from fitness training, which is why my husband is the entrepreneur in this family!

    1. That’s funny! Thanks, Allie. Appreciate you stopping by and leaving a note. And for the kind words and continued support.

  4. Excellent piece. Your transparency and vulnerability is paying off right now because you are communing with your own fears and leaning into them in ways that will allow you to remain fearless down the line. The only way to transcend the fear is to know it very well. Bravo!!!! Keep the fire and the spirit and Victory is certain:)

    1. Thanks, Fanon. I’ve been leaning into my fears on this project now for three years. So, I guess I won’t be afraid of anything! Not even the boogey man this Halloween. Ha.

      I think I’m gonna call Sheryl Sandberg and tell her leaning in is not just about what she said…Ha.

      You make a good point though about being fearless. Things have happened that I would’ve thought would be the worst case scenario. And I’m still here. Grinding. Moving forward.

      People can really tolerate and overcome more discomfort than they think. But it won’t happen if you don’t get out of your comfort zone.

  5. Thanks so much for posting this.

    I’m just starting out on my entrepreneurial journey. Honestly, I never thought the day would come when I would want to start my own business. It’s scary, frustrating, daunting, hope-giving, inspiring, and ultimately, I believe it will be incredibly rewarding.

    I’ve learned that being an entrepreneur means being able to see the fullness of the vision you’ve created in your mind even though it seems like you’re nowhere near grabbing hold of it in reality. I guess the goal is to take what’s in my mind and make it real.

    Keep going bro. It really is inspiring to see you persevere through it all.

    1. Jeff, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I can relate to your comment about all those emotions. What helped me was finding a group of friends I can lean on who are also entrepreneurs and we get together every two weeks for coffee. Well, I met with them before I started taking care of the kids full time and working on my biz. But I still lean on those guys.

      Yes, you must hold fast to your vision. I also find it helpful to have a little of that Steve Jobs reality distortion field thing going. Otherwise, the apparent reality of inertia will not keep me motivated.

      I saw your tweet about how do you get people to read your blog. That IS the million dollar question. Please let me know when you figure it out. I did hit the subscribe button on your blog, but it took me to a contact us form, so I wasn’t able to subscribe. Also, it might helpful to put your blog site address in your twitter profile.

      Thanks again for stopping by. Please subscribe and stay connected. Let me know if I can help in any way.

      Cheers!

  6. Hi James, love your insight and candor. I really appreciate your optimism in the face of your obstacles. You are an impressive person with a wonderful product. Good things will happen.

    1. Thanks, Ken. That’s a really nice thing for you to say. Are you on social media? I’d love to stay connected with you.

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