START-UP IDEAS: HOBBY OR REAL

This article was originally posted as Is my Startup Idea a “Hobby” … or a “Real Business”?

Is your business a hobby, or is it a real business? This is a question that all would-be entrepreneurs need to objectively answer. It’s one thing to start a business which is really a hobby, but starting a “real” business is something entirely different!
Here’s what I mean when I talk about starting a “real” business.
After engineering school, I had a full-time job at a big company. I was involved in some cool projects and was on the big company’s fast track. My raises were frequent, and my salary grew faster than those of the other engineers that were hired at the same time I was. My career path was in great shape!
Then I decided to toss it all away, and I quit my job to start my own business. I had very little money saved, so I didn’t have a cushion. I had bills, car payments, a mortgage, etc. My father (who was my mentor and my most admired person) warned me not to throw away my career, especially since I was engaged to be married, and I didn’t have a clear business idea. My future mother-in-law was not happy with me. My fiancee was a little concerned.

Basically, the pressure was on, and I had no safety net. Nobody was going to bail me out. For me, this was the real deal. Failure was a real possibility, and frankly, it was within inches of me and on my mind 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
As the business started percolating, I gobbled up my savings instantly and ran up multiple credit cards to their max limits. I was ordering supplies from vendors, knowing that I was inches away from bankruptcy and might not be able to pay for the supplies. The entire experience was very “real.” There was a ton of pressure for me to succeed.

And for me, succeeding meant … not failing. Not going bankrupt. Not having to give up. Not going back to a corporate job. Not shutting down my company. Not leaving my vendors unpaid. And not having my mortgage foreclosed upon.
Although I had tried starting businesses before, I had never before taken the leap of faith that I did with this startup experience … this was a one-way ticket. There was no turning back. I was committed!!
It was real … my first “real” business.

Mike Kappel

Also read: How 8 out of 10 businesses survive, turn your hobby to business, Listen to whispers and Discover your passions

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