By Will Smale Business Reporter, Bbc News
Becoming an entrepreneur is a daydream for millions of people. After all, starting your own company is an opportunity to become your own boss, chart your own destiny, and maybe make a fortune. But is the reality always rosy, even if your business flourishes’
Evernote chief executive Phil Libin
The boss of note-writing mobile phone app and website Evernote, Mr Libin cautions that being a successful entrepreneur requires rather a lot of commitment.
He says: “It is amazingly difficult work – you have no life balance, no family time, and you will never work harder in your life. It really can be brutal.”
Mr Libin, whose company is based in Silicon Valley, California, also warns that most start-up business do not make their founders rich.
“If your motivation is to make money and have power, then you will be a very unhappy as an entrepreneur,” says the 42-year-old.
“But if your motivation is to make the world a better place, you can be a happy entrepreneur, a person who strives to achieve something.”
Ieat Foods founder Shazia Saleem
Still just 29, Ms Saleem, of Luton, is already a veteran entrepreneur. Her previous business ventures have included redeveloping a rundown holiday resort in Cambodia, and she is about to launch a UK halal food brand called Ieat Foods.
She says business owners have to guard against loneliness.
“Everyone tells you it’s lonely as an entrepreneur – it’s a bit of an understatement,” she says. “Many times the only person you can turn to for inspiration or comfort is the person staring back at you [often blankly] in the mirror.
“Carry your ego with you and it’s a pretty lonesome journey. Ditch it, and you invite [from the right people, of course] support, company and experiences that make the journey much more worthwhile.”
Box founder and chief executive Aaron Levie
The chief executive of global cloud storage business Box, Mr Levie says starting your own business involves having to put up with tremendous hardships.
This is something the 28-year-old has first-hand experience of, as after launching Box back in 2005 he spent the first two and a half years of the business sleeping on a mattress at its office in Silicon Valley, California.
And he lived off tins of spaghetti hoops in tomato sauce, and instant noodles.
“Starting up a new company requires an incredible level of commitment and determination over a very long period of time,” says Mr Levie, who is now worth an estimated $100m (£65m).
“You pretty much have to clear your calendar for the next 10 years, and be focused on just one thing – your business.
“This leaves very little time for anything else – all you will be doing is working. This can be painful, so if you don’t deeply enjoy what you are doing, then it really isn’t worth doing it.”
SBTV founder Jamal Edwards
Londoner Jamal Edwards is an amateur film-maker turned millionaire. Just 23 years old, he puts his videos up on YouTube, where they attract millions of hits, and he takes a share of the advertising revenue.
He warns that being the boss of your own company can test your friendships.
“There are downsides to being an entrepreneur,” he says. “People begin to look at you as a meal ticket, and a person who is incapable of having personal problems.
“Equally the long hours begin to take [their] toll on your health. I think the saddest part of it is losing friends… because this barrier of success seems to be in place.”