Does a Business Startup Have To Be Hard?

I don’t think so. I’ve found that the more authentic the business is for the entrepreneur, the easier it is to build. Opportunities and productivity increase in proportion to fulfillment. Since there is an easier way why do so many solopreneurs insist on earning success the hard way?

Pamela Slim over at Escape From Cubicle Nation wrote a thought-provoking post. Who says following your dreams shouldn’t be hard?

After reading this post twice, I can’t fully agree or disagree. But I was surprised by all of the readers who commented in full agreement. They seemed to have embraced the necessity of hard work.

How you answer the following excellent question, Pam raised, – will tell you much about your own beliefs. “Why is easy desirable?”

Many of my spiritual friends say that struggle and closed doors are signs that we have chosen incorrectly. This school of thought says that open doors and flow indicate that we’ve chosen the right career or business.

Yet this hasn’t always been my experience either. I’d like this to be true. But few of my accomplishments have come struggle-free. I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of needing to knock down obstacles to get what we want. But is it absolutely necessary to fight and claw our way to success?

When you are doing the right things, leading your tribe, tackling tough problems and creating truly useful products and services, it shouldn’t be easy. Pamela Slim

When you are doing things right it shouldn’t be easy? Please don’t should on me. I have a real problem with that because I know that in discovering and building ones authentic business, ease is all about fit. When your business fits who you are, then it is right for you and building it is easier.

Struggle seems to surface when I haven’t chosen authentically or when I’ve failed to notice the need for an internal adjustment. This tells me that ease is the more natural way to build a business. Read what Abraham-Hicks has to say about flow and resistance.

What we mean when we say, “Nothing that you want is upstream” is that your desires because you have already thought about them and asked about them are already in the process of being created. In the same way that a round object will roll downhill of its own accord without needing an engine or added impetus from outside influences, your desires are, in a sense, easily and naturally rolling toward their own conclusions as well. Once your life has caused the creation of a desire, your work is done, and natural forces and laws will take over.

The best way we have come to explain to you this pattern of natural evolution is in our analogy of the Current of the river: Your every request, large or small, adds to the Current of this river; and literally everything that you have ever asked for is downstream, where you can easily find it, experience it, possess it, or live it.
Abraham –Hicks The Astonishing Power of Emotions, page 36

Esther Hicks explains further in this video.

Here’s where I stand on this one. Yes, it often takes persistence and lots of hard work to build the business of your dreams. Like you, I’ll do whatever it takes. But at the same time, I can attest that it’s not always necessary to work your ass off.

I do know when authentic business building is easier.
It’s easier when I make decisions guided by my core values.
It’s easier when I remember to express gratitude.
It’s easier when I’m inspired to serve.

Does a business startup have to be hard? No. But if that’s your belief then most likely that will be your experience. If you are at least open to things coming easily, you will have increased the probability of enjoying ease. I’m really looking forward to your thoughts on this one.


  1. The concept “easy” is also a bit relative to your own motivation and drive. Things will seem “easier” when you have motivation and passion to tackle problems and make things work. I’ve found you tend to feel more weight of things that seem impossible when you are lacking in passion and drive.

    Like you, I disagree that starting a business should be hard. Certainly you will have to put a lot of work in, but this can be offset by many different factors – whether it is the right time, whether you have the right temperament and personality, how well you deal with stress and problems, and of course – how much motivation and drive you have to succeed.

    Interesting post…

    Rosss last blog post..How to stay inspired in tough times

  2. “If it were easy, then everyone could do it.”

    When you start a new business, you’re going to face challenges. You’re going to have to overcome obstacles. “Everything is going to cost more than you thought and take longer than you thought it would.”

    However, when you’re enjoying the “journey”, then the path doesn’t seem so long nor so arduous.

    Most of the small businesses that “fail” are not “failures” in the sense that they owe more than they can earn. Rather, the owner decides there are easier ways to make a living.

    One of the GREAT messages this blog delivers regularly is following your “true calling” and doing the “work you love”.

    Often, the only way to get to do the work you love is to work for yourself. If that’s the case, then whether it’s “hard” or “easy” really doesn’t matter. It’s what you have to do in order to do what you were MEANT to do!

    Kathy @ Virtual Impaxs last blog post..Steps to Starting a Small Business: #4 Naming Your Business

  3. Hi Tom: This is interesting. I think the question is:where is the struggle coming from? Sometimes following our dreams is a struggle because other people try to get in the way, and sometimes it’s a struggle because it’s a new concept and there’s a learning curve others have to go through before they can embrace your vision. Both of these are external sources of struggle and are not indicators that you’ve chosen wrong, but simply a reflection of the world we live in. If the struggle is internal, you either need to work on your belief system or you need to ask yourself if perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong dream to go after. I don’t think that hard work and struggle are synonyms, you can work hard and love every minute of it–if it’s an authentic goal you’re aiming to achieve– or you can work hard and wish you were doing something else every minute of the day (here you obviously chose the wrong dream to chase).

    Marelisas last blog post..Solve Everyday Problems Creatively

  4. Ross – Welcome, yes hard and easy is very relative and not just to ones drive or passion. Often hard or easy is simply ones perspective on life in general. As a natural optimist, resilience is easy for me because I truly believe that it’s all good. Some seem to fight their challenges rather than seeking to see what lesson or value is in them.

    Kathy – Obviously I love what you have to say about enjoying the journey. Otherwise we tend to fight the present moment way too much. You’re also right about how it doesn’t really matter whether the journey is difficult or not – if we want to build a business form the care of who we are, then that’s what we do regardless.

  5. Hi Tom,

    I think we need to differentiate between “struggle” and “effort.” Starting a business takes effort. It does not take struggle.

    Still, a good many people are only willing to receive something good in their lives after overcoming obstacles … so they get busy creating obstacles. And some people are highly invested in never getting to their own business, and so they create obstacles. And finally, some people prefer never to get started … yup, they create obstacles, too.

    I’ve started three successful businesses in my life. (My definition of success being that they more than paid all my bills). It took effort. It was fun.

    Who says work has to be “hard”?


  6. Andrea – You make an excellent distinction and when I look back over my accomplishments, you’re right, many did include focused effort but not necessarily struggle. I almost wish I hadn’t used the word struggle now because it does take the reader down a path away from my point. You are my favorite example of a solopreneur who truly enjoys every aspect of her business building. I love how you talk about intending to enjoy your marketing.

    Marelisa – Yes I get what you’re saying for sure. Internals obstacles are indeed self-created and we need to make an adjustment often in belief when we identify those limitations. It could also be a matter of how we perceive the use of the word.

    Look at these synonyms for hard: arduous, backbreaking, bothersome, burdensome, complicated, demanding, difficile, distressing, effortful, exacting, fatiguing, formidable, grinding, hairy*, heavy*, Herculean*, intricate, involved, irksome, knotty*, labored, laborious, mean, merciless, murder, onerous, operose, rigorous, rough, rugged, scabrous, serious, severe, slavish, sticky, strenuous, terrible, tiring, toilful, toilsome, tough, troublesome, unsparing, uphill*, uphill battle, wearing, wearisome, wearying.

    Some carry a somewhat negative connotation and others are more complimentary.

  7. Hi Tom,

    First time here I came over from Evan’s site. Nice site you have here.

    Interesting post, I have been wondering that myself. I have been self-employed most of my life. And you know what sometimes it is both. I feel the view of hard can often be a term used when one hasn’t mastered something yet. Then it feels easy and you move more smoothly through it. Especially when one is starting out for the first time. But then it can also become monotonous because its easy and then it can return to hard. That’s when attitude and motivation come in or restructuring. So I guess that would infer why so many people at least that I know in business phrase it as hard work.

    When your business is new and fresh and exciting it carries alot of ease like everyone here is discussing…Theirs empowerment in achieving through the passion of business idea and seeing its growth and profit. And just doing it feels great! Doing what you envisioned and creating its success is wonderful.

    Though I think some of the conversation is about working less (not just about easy) and yet creating and being successful so you have more time for family and other passions you might have.

    Most people I know worked harder and more hours when they started up there own business. Yet they loved it and were committed to it and hoped after some time they could rest a bit more as it would be able to be delegated to others. They often would laugh that they were waiting for the money to flow just alittle bit easier. Most made it there, eventually.But hard work was definately happening. They actually thought their old jobs were easier.

  8. I like what she says about using an online scheduling plan rather than sending 6 e-mails back and forth. News to me.

    I guess sometimes we fool ourselves into making things hard, and are often more familiar with struggle than ease.

    But ease is who I am lately and it’s totally working for me in that I just trust that all the years I’ve spent working so hard on my songs will pay off in my final leg of the journey I’m now on.

    Jannies last blog post..To flounce or not to flounce

  9. Sara at On Simplicity says:

    I also like Andrea’s distinction between struggle and effort. I was raised with the idea that hard work pays off, so I tend to naturally work backwards from there to assume that good things take hard work. That logic has a few holes, though. I’d like to think that I struck out on my own, I’d pick an area that comes easily and naturally to me, which shouldn’t make it hard.

    Perhaps a piece of the puzzle lies in each entrepreneur’s definition of success. Making a living: easy. Building a multi-mil company: hard.

    No definitive answers here (I’m very torn), but I’m glad to have the wheels spinning.

    Sara at On Simplicitys last blog post..Handling Feedback Elegantly and Easily

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  11. I think if you really believe in and are passionate about the business you want to start up, it is easier in the sense that you are more willing to face any challenges that come along. But not easier in the sense of simple. Because no matter how much you may want to open a business, there are still things that may not come easy to you, such as the business, legal, administrative side of things. But if you are passionate, you will find it easier to find ways to get those things done.

    ~ Kristi

    Kikolani | Poetry, Photography, Blogging Tipss last blog post..Using Demotivators Posters to Find Motivation

  12. Hey Tom!

    Great conversation over here. I love it.

    I, too, like Andrea’s definition of “effort” vs. “struggle.”

    I am definitely not of the mindset that you have to push a boulder up a hill in order to achieve success. In my own case, I feel tons of flow in my work through the course of a day. And I would absolutely not want to spend my time doing anything else than what I am doing.

    What inspired me to write the post is that I work with a LOT of coaches who fully ascribe to the “law of attraction, be positive and everything will come” mentality. They visualize their target audience, know their strengths and then wonder why clients don’t chase them down at their door. They may not have an effective marketing system, or business model, or something else that is getting in their way of achieving their results. Instead of acknowledging that they will have to put a lot of effort into building a business, they beat themselves up for not thinking the right thoughts.

    My husband and I discussed this in the context of his Navajo spiritual ceremonies. In some cases, you spend 6 months carefully gathering supplies for a ceremony. You may spend 12-18 hours on your knees in prayer. You go to great effort to feed the relatives who come support you. But all is in the spirit of “Beauty Way” — it feels good to do that hard work, even though it is challenging. And the traditional teachings say that that hard work is part of a very important life lesson so people can learn to handle whatever difficulty comes their way and stay strong.

    So thanks again for shedding great light on a somewhat complex topic! Here is to working (er) efforting hard! 😉


    Pamela Slims last blog post..Who says following your dreams shouldn’t be hard?

  13. Hi Tom, I think I’m with marelisa here. struggle is not hard work. I think every successful person has worked hard to get where they are, but that doesn’t mean they struggled. From my understanding of Abraham Hicks (who I’m a big fan of) we should follow our bliss and sometimes it’s blissful and feels right to slog away at something for hours, days even. We’re in the zone and we can see where we’re going and it all just feels so right. Does that make it easy? No. We may at this time choose to turn down social engagements, let other hobbies lapse for awhile. We may even get a bit neglectful pf family for a bit, but if it feels like that’s where we’re supposed to be focused then we’re not struggling.

    I admit I always take struggle to mean something is wrong. Either my attitude, my feelings, the project, or just my timing. But then maybe this is a case of everyone being different. Maybe some people need to struggle and toil day and night so that the rewards feel worth it in the end. It’s part of how they define success. Just thinking…


  14. I think about writing and book and getting published. Writing is damn hard work and although I love it, I wouldn’t call it anything but hard.

    Then getting published? Beyond hard – almost to impossible so, and yet so many people pursue it? Why because of the passion.

    So I think a small business is the same – I’m willing to work hard because of my passion. It’s still hard work, but I’m willing to do it.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..How Do You Compare?

  15. Is start up hard? It wasn’t for me. I am so aligned with my business. It fits like a glove. It really doesn’t matter if what I’m doing is easy or hard, it feels natural to who I am. It feels comfortable. I am actually working fewer hours than what I did before. When I am working, time flies. I know my curriculum which is something I am developing for part of my business. My partner is in charge of the business part. We consult with each other daily to touch base and discuss what we are both doing, to brainstorm, problem solve, and plan. So when I’m working I am doing what I love and am good at. When we present in schools, it is a high for me. I am flying.

    We have had a couple of struggles one of which required us to start all over with the manufacturing process of our canyon. But, thanks to Tom, and a couple of other folks, we wiped our eyes, decided what our next step would be, and took the step. The point is to not let set backs stop you. You might have to pause and re-figure some stuff, but keep moving forward.

    So, no start up wasn’t hard. I knew what I wanted to do and worked toward getting it. While I am still developing the business, it is really starting to take off. I am so lucky to be where I am. I keep wondering if I’ll wake up soon.

    And best yet, working from home brings an all new meaning to casual Friday! :O)

  16. Hi Tom – When I think back to when we started our business, everything fell into place. Although we did/and do work hard, it’s more putting in long hours to build the business and to get jobs completed on time. Because we enjoy what we do, we don’t think of it as “hard” work even though some days we work hard. Does that make sense?

    Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blogs last blog post..Are Domain Names Over Rated

  17. Hi Tom – I think a lot depends on what folk mean by hard. It’s easy to put in a lot of hours and work hard but if you’re enjoying yourself it doesn’t feel hard.

    But every business is going to have problems sometimes, no matter how much you love what you’re doing. And if they are problems you’ve never dealt with before – that can be hard.

  18. My business will be lots of hard work. But not hard.
    My mantra is that there is something wrong if I trying too hard (not enjoying it)!

    Mayas last blog post..Are you a storyteller? What is your story?

  19. Diane – Welcome! I was thinking the same thing. Even aligned self-employment can be both challenging and easy at times, often on the same project. I know what you mean about the familiar becoming easy and then almost boring; it’s then that it can become difficult to do. That’s when we delegate or hire it out. You’re right again. Many feel that working less would make their lives easier. It’s a wonderful goal to work less and enjoy it more.

    Jannie – Welcome! I’m so happy that you’ve hit that stream of ease and you’re right trust and self-confidence goes a long way towards keeping us in momentum.

    Sarah – It’s always good to get those wheels spinning. 🙂 Yes I big piece of this puzzle is in how you view things and we are all unique, even in that. Some would even say that building a huge business is easier than being a solopreneur.

    Kikolani – Welcome! yes, when we are passionate and deeply committed to birthing a business it does get easier and we are able to face the challenges with greater ease. Especially when we accept that most likely some challenges will arise and intend to handle them well when they do.

    Pam – Welcome! I appreciate you for stopping by and shining some more light on what inspired this post. I know what you mean by those who rely too heavily on the emotional and mental realms suggested by attraction. I used to be there and it didn’t work for me until I combined the mental and emotional realms with action and aligned my work with spiritual significance. I think it can work to set an intention and expect great results – hell some people can bend spoons with their minds. But if you’re not one of them you better work for what you want as well. Thank you for writing the post that inspired this one. I suspect we have clover views than it first seemed.

    Kelly – “But then maybe this is a case of everyone being different. Maybe some people need to struggle and toil day and night so that the rewards feel worth it in the end.” I think you’re on to something here. I’ve certainly learned form this post to choose my words more carefully because they can have so many different meanings to others. Productivity and the lack of it is a very individual journey and we do all need to complete whatever it takes to get where we want to be.

    Laurie – You are such an inspiring example of one who has nailed her meaningful work so well that it feels like flying. Outstanding, you make my point that it doesn’t absolutely have to be hard!

    Barbara – Yes that does make sense. When we are in the midst of joyfully working the hours could indeed be long but not necessarily difficult because we are inspired. I’ve been there often and always look for ways to enjoy more of my work in that mode.

    Cath – I agree new problems that we don’t know how to address can be hard on us. But even then we have the choice as to how we view those problems and as to how much we allow them to get to us. Agreed?

    Alex – I can see your point of view and if it works for you then please continue with it. Like it’s been shared buy others some get value out of knowing they are working hard. Perhaps I’m just at the age where I’d prefer to take it easy if possible. I think hard and easy is also determined by how we label the work. If we declare it to be hard then it is and that’s not all bad for some.

  20. I just skimmed through the comments (not the post itself) but I think everyone’s getting it. If you mean by “hard” as discouraging, unmotivating, suck-your-life kind of hard, then you’re in a wrong business. The right business may still be “challenging” (the word I’d like to use) but working on your business itself feeds you as well, so there’s a positive feedback cycle. You give to your work, and your work gives back. It’s sustainable — the ONLY self-sustainable model of working, really.

    Now, it MAY be hard to find the right business — but that’s where you come in, right? 😉


    Ari Koinumas last blog post..The 7 Keys to Breaking Bad Habits

  21. Hi Tom. Thought provoking! I agree with Andrea about differentiating between struggle and effort. A big part of this is about perspective.

    Whether a person chooses to see what comes up as an obstacle or a challenge. And then this depends on what type of person they are. For example, I looked at the words you listed and “sticky” stuck out for me. I could see how some people would avoid sticky while others couldn’t wait to dive in and figure out how to make it unsticky.

    And, fulfillment plays a major role here too! When something comes easy, it quite often ends up being an empty experience. Cause, as you know from studying life coaching, fulfillment is not something to be achieved, it is something that you live into and build up to.

    Great post… I really enjoyed it and the comments thus far.

    Davinas last blog post..Video — Preparation Inspires Self-Confidence

  22. Raised Path says:

    To me the most important point you brought up is if the business is directly related to the core values, and also that the person stay connected to their core values.

    When I lose sight of my core values or the “why” of any activity or pursuit, it becomes tough or a struggle. If I am struggling then I need to reflect on how I am in my own way.

    When I am connected to my core values it’s all good. Everything is a learning experience and there are signs and directions along the way.

    Great conversation!


  23. Maya – That’s a wonderful intent and mantra! Your confidence is bursting out all over.

    Ari – “You give to your work, and your work gives back. It’s sustainable — the ONLY self-sustainable model of working, really.”
    Well said my friend, if only our labor unions would get this.

    Davina – Good point, I wouldn’t select sticky in a million years. It is all about perspective and you have a very healthy one. I can see why you enjoy coaching.

    Marc – Welcome! I like your blog name. I’ll check you out soon. Yep we can’t lose when we stay aligned with our values. That’s why we have them.

  24. Daniel Richard says:

    A startup can’t be hard as long as we have the skills and experience required to drive us through to success. I’m playing it with my strengths when I get to have a change in my life this mid December.

    Gonna prep up my mindset with a go-for-it attitude all the way to the bank. 🙂

    Daniel Richards last blog post..My Goal Is To Create A Totally Awesome Blog Without An About Me Page!

  25. Like Ari said, I think work (whether it’s for someone else or on our own) can be challenging at times. And it can require hard work from us to get things accomplished. But that doesn’t mean it’s “hard”. Struggle vs effort – as Andrea discusses – another really good distinction. I sometimes put a lot of effort into something – but it’s not a struggle – and other times it’s a lot of effort and a struggle. Obviously the first one is where I want to be. And, I think we’ll always have day where there are struggles. But, if we are really doing something we love – these days are diminished.

    Lances last blog post..Thanks For The Cookie

  26. It all depends on our perspective. If we view the work as hard then so it will be, but if we view the work as challenging to help us step to new levels then so it will be.

    We get caught up in paddling upstream because we are confused. Believe me I’ve paddled up stream plenty of times.

    I couldn’t find a partner that I wanted to spend my life with until I met my wife. I was trying too hard. When I stopped being someone I wasn’t, the person I was meant to marry was also ready for me.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..Gary Vaynerchuk – Do What You Love

  27. Great post! “Struggle seems to surface when I haven’t chosen authentically”…that was an ah-ha read for me. I have a dream to build an online life balance tool, but I feel stuck b/c I don’t know the IT knowledge (I can’t build it myself). So I wonder is this struggle the acknowledgement that I should move away from this idea? Or is this struggle a reaction to hitting a technical roadblock?

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..21 Reasons to Schedule a Weekly Night Out for Yourself

  28. Ian Peatey says:

    Hi Tom. I’m over on your side on this one. In fact, I’d go further and say that EVERYTHING is easier when :

    “I make decisions guided by my core values.
    … when I remember to express gratitude.
    … when I’m inspired to serve.”

    These three things don’t remove the obstacles or challenges – but they do give me greater inner resources to deal with them and they also attract others to support me in what I do. Whether it’s business, relationships, communities or anything else. I notice for myself that these three things make the ‘hardest work’ seem easier and not much life ‘work’. Ian

    Ian Peateys last blog post..Dwelling on the lighter side

  29. Daniel – Walking out of the bank after just depositing a huge check from a new project is one of my all time favorite visualizations. Go for it and come bacl and tell us how it went!

    Lance – Imagine days and days of only doing what you love to do. See how that makes you feel.

    Karl – I love that you’ve shared the example of authentic relationship. There are many possible soul mates for each of us just as their are countless authentic customers who match up. And they both show up in our lives when we express authentically.

    Stacey – Forget about all that and simply answer this question. What CAN I do now? There’s always something. Do that and see what develops.

    Ian – Good call mentioning your inner resources. Success is mainly an inside game. When we look through the lenses of gratitude, alignment and inspiration hard does become easier.
    How sweet it is! 🙂

  30. I’m another one with Andrea.

    Interestingly it has parallels with Ignatius Loyola – he noted that some imagination left him feeling better, other imagined scenes left him depleted. (I’m not a Catholic in case you are wondering.)

    The distinction is about authenticity I think – and that there are different levels to us and our experience. When we move from our core there is a lightness, even if we are putting out heaps of energy.

    Evans last blog post..Activities and Blogs I Enjoy

  31. Evan – “A lightness that comes from moving from our core!” Indeed a lightness and a light that is very attractive to others. It’s always good to talk authentically with you.

  32. Raised Path says:

    That’s the beauty of community. Coming together in conversation and sharing. Thanks for the reminder, it’s always great to hear it from someone else. Somehow it never gets old.

  33. I think that its comparable to how some people will expect something bad to happen soon because they might have recently been having an easier time of it and been quite lucky.

    People seem conditioned to expect most of life to be hard, so much that if something happens to be easy for them, even if only for a short time, they feel like there must be something wrong, if at least part of a startup is easy, then why not embrace it, accept it for what it is.

    Life doesn’t always have to be stressful, hard and filled with suffering.

    Maybe people feel that something should be difficult to make them feel more worthy of it, like it was earned more.


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