Jan 18 / Danny Wong

Make a $10 Million in two years!

Hah! That’s quite a dream isn’t it?

Not many beginning entrepreneurs realize how tough it is to make money being a startup junkie. Sure, you hear the stories about exceptional people who’ve beat the odds – Microsoft’s great Bill Gates, college dropout becoming one of the richest men in the world. A personal contact, Jon Radoff of GamerDNA dropped out of college too after his freshman year and started a company that IPOed. GamerDNA, his third startup is now VC-backed and continues to grow. But entrepreneurs like Gates and Radoff are few in number. Most of the noise in the entrepreneurship space is hype and positives.

Admittedly, it is very difficult to become an all-star entrepreneur who creates a $100 million company, and even if you do, the likelihood of you having a net worth of $100 million within the first few years will be tough, especially since you’ll likely have investors, partners, costs, lower margins, etc.

Creative Commons License photo credit: AMagill

When Blank Label really started developing into a decent company early in the summer of 2009, Fan Bi and I, as second-time entrepreneurs, still novices really, had big dreams of making this company the next biggest thing in retail apparel, selling suits and dress shirts (now we only do co-created dress shirts).

We had misconstrued dreams of becoming millionaires within just a few years, and building this massive network of sales representatives who would work on a commission-basis to basically put money into our ever-deeper pockets.

Hyper-growth startups that make hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, in annual revenue will make you the millionaire you wanted to be with a fancy mansion and several sports cars.

But when you look at how much some of today’s hot startups are sold for, you realize that your chances of making a ton of money are slim.

Reddit.com was sold to Conde Nast for single-digit millions, as did Going.com to AOL. I’m sure the co-founders and their investors loved the fact their companies were acquired by such big media empires, but for the price the companies were bought at, consider how the money was split up.

When you have a few co-founders and institutional funding, all that money’s not going in your pocket. It’s even doubtful that you’ll ever see half that money either.

But being an entrepreneur isn’t always about getting rich quick. In fact, a lot of times that’s just a myth. Running a business takes a lot of hard work AND time. But I’m not an entrepreneur because I dream of sleeping in beds with $100 bills covering my sheets (although I do dream occasionally). I’m an entrepreneur because I can be my own man, be deeply involved in something that’s a little bigger than me, and truly pursue my passions without any in-place constraints.

Don’t bet on making $10 million in two years. You’d be lucky if you made that in 10 years. Do it for the adventure and intellectual and personal development. Those intangibles are well worth the opportunity cost of perhaps a six-figure salary elsewhere.

This guest post was written by Danny Wong, Lead Evangelist for Blank Label, a provider of men’s dress shirts online. Check out the men’s fashion blog for more of his musings on fashion and entrepreneurship.

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