Art by Sandra Smouha, Geneva

What is life REALLY like as an entrepreneur?

By Sharonna Karni Cohen

Sharonna Karni Cohen on the uncomfortable side effects of running a startup


Running a company has taken over my life. Before I elaborate, I will state outright: I am grateful for being able to pursue my ambitions and to spend every day working on an idea that has exceeded my ambitions and imagination. Allow me to say that I take partial responsibility for the balance that I have yet to find. I believe that when I am ready, I will conquer all, but for now I must share a few hard facts for those who have ever implied that being an entrepreneur was an easy feat. For those who have ever said: I am jealous of the fun career path you have built for yourself, can’t you just have your employees do everything for you, or you’re so lucky to be your own boss. It’s doubtful that these fortunate people have ever had an idea overtake their life.


Have you ever guiltily eaten dinner while hovering above your computer, little crumbs trickling into the machine’s hardware while you’re stuffing your face at a speed even Einstein couldn’t measure. Have you ever been mid-conversation with a friend when you found your eyes slowly drifting and suddenly you were deeply engaged in thoughts about work – your many to do’s, your unread emails or an unfinished conversation with a colleague? An entrepreneur does these things all the time.


Owning a business or company has many uncomfortable side effects, but perhaps the most disheartening result is that the beautiful and creative side of your brain becomes a hyperactive mess and often inserts itself in the wrong situations and contexts. The mind, a once gift that afforded you the skills to create your company in the first place, takes on attributes such as paranoia, intolerance for non-work chatter, mania, obsessiveness, heightened impatience, isolation and an all around lack of awareness to etiquette – every setting becomes an opportunity to brain-pick and idea-swap.


To an entrepreneur, multitasking means turning into a human machine, consuming and spitting out tasks as if you’re an animal that hasn’t been fed in months. An entrepreneur devours knowing well that they are not a machine or an animal and that their crash and burn awaits – a crash so deep and cumbersome that no coffee or afternoon nap can satiate the oncoming low. This is the reality of an entrepreneur.


A lack of romance cannot be blamed entirely on the lifestyle of an entrepreneur, but there is something detrimental about loving an idea so much that everything else seems inconsequential. Imagine your company and idea as your life partner – it is sensitive, needy and cannot thrive without your care. I sometimes slip into ideas about Dreame on dates or even fulfill a few nagging to do’s during a bathroom break. My inability to fully give my attention or emotions to another person is harmful to most of my romantic relationships, both new and serious. Yet despite all of these deficits, I am still here and I imagine that you are wondering why.



Imagine that you take this idea and close friends and family tell you that you are a genius, that your idea is going to disrupt the global marketplace and shake the world. Now imagine that investors that you have never met before ask to give you money just so they can see your vision materialize. Imagine that you then find like minded individuals, men and women who are greater than you in many areas, and they want to join your journey. Imagine that someone on the other side of the world, a complete stranger, believes so much in your idea that they spend hard-earned money to have a piece of it. You have made money and you have affected that stranger’s life. Imagine that.


As an entrepreneur, I know that I have an idea and that this idea is much bigger than crumbs, an orderly brain, paranoia, petty romance and fleeting feelings. I believe the past few years have been worth it. I do look forward to finding love, to always eating at a table, to being 100% present in conversations with friends, but I know that I couldn’t get there on any path, but the one I am on. I am making the imagination matter.

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