(This was my answer to a question on Quora)
I am a passionate supporter of entrepreneurship as a career option. Yet I advise individuals that their decision to become an entrepreneur must be a cautiously considered one.
Entrepreneurship is exciting. It is a creative process. It gives you the freedom to create new products or services. And create new value propositions. It gives you an opportunity to create wealth, and/or positively impact the quality of life. It allows you to chart a new path for yourself, and those who believe enough in you and your vision to join you in the journey. Most importantly, as an entrepreneur you create jobs.
For someone who is 23-year-old, I see no downsides of pursuing an entrepreneurial dream. Even if the venture fails, and it could, all you would have lost is a year or two of salary that you may have got in a job. But, even if the venture fails and you have to go back to a job, the entrepreneurial experience will make you far more suitable candidate than someone with similar qualifications but with no entrepreneurial experience. (Ask any HR person, and they will concur.).
However, I urge everyone with the desire and aspiration to become an entrepreneur to assess the risks in the context of their own circumstances very, very carefully. Doing a startup is challenging. And it requires a lot of hard work. Most often a lot, lot more than you would usually put in when you are in a job.
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Even if you have the qualities, the aspiration, the burning desire and a great concept that has potential, I would urge you to think very carefully about how your decision to startup is likely to affect your life, and the life of your loved ones. If you have families to feed, loans & EMIs to pay or are expecting higher financial needs in the near future, then carefully assess if the timing is right for you.
Of course, there are several stories of how people have battled against all odds to succeed as entrepreneurs, and I hope you will too. But proceed with a lot of thought and after assessing the circumstances that you are currently in.
If you have family that depends on your income, ensure that you talk to them and help them understand the challenges you might face and the sacrifices that you request them to make. It is tough.
Starting up will consume all your available time. Hence also assess very carefully, again in the context of your circumstances, whether you will have enough time to devote to this. (e.g. if you are taking care of an elder or are a soon-to-be parent, you must assess if you will have the time to pursue the venture at this stage, or is it more prudent to postpone it for a while.).
There will be well-meaning folks who will discourage you. The point is not to ignore them. It is important to explain to them your decision and seek support, and even if you want to proceed despite their opposition, they have a right to know your thoughts. Support of family & friends is crucial. Without it, the challenging times can be quite daunting and stressful.
Not for one moment am I being discouraging. All I am suggesting is that the more you assess all the risks and implications, the better prepared you will be to deal with those.
Also, I often see individuals excited about ‘the idea of doing a startup’ or the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. And then they search for concepts that have a good potential. And I find that strange. It is like falling in love with the idea of being in love, and then trying to find someone to fit the role of the companion you imagined.
I also advice young people to pursue their careers – as an entrepreneur or as a professional – only in an area that they are passionate about. Without personal passion and interest you are unlikely to be happy doing what you do. And it is not worth spending your life doing something you don’t enjoy, even if you are going to make a ton of money doing it.
Note: Some parts of this article are excerpts from my book on Starting up & Fund Raising.