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Entrepreneurship wasn’t always so trendy. Before “Shark Tank” and “Silicon Valley,” the title of entrepreneur was sometimes more of a euphemism for unemployed. But now the startup scene here in Columbus and across the country is booming and being an entrepreneur is a badge of honor as opposed to shame. But what is it really like? Those lamenting their steady corporate jobs might have the ‘grass is greener’ visions of relaxing days without a boss or meetings while you casually sip coffee at Stauf’s or Brioso. The truth is a bit different (except for the coffee part… that’s 100% accurate)

Here’s Elon Musk – who one might assume is living the most successful version of entrepreneur life:

He’s right. On the highs. On the lows. On the stress. And on how no one wants to hear about that part.

But they should.

It’s difficult for an entrepreneur to acknowledge the lows. It’s not the most attractive picture to paint for potential investors – and it’s a difficult conversation to have with friends and family unfamiliar with the day-to-day grind of entrepreneurship. More often than not, if an entrepreneur tells you “it’s going great – we’re crushing it” look for a hidden hint of sarcasm. One entrepreneur friend of mine even has his own code version of ‘it’s good’ with a long emphasis on the gooooooooood.

Most pop culture stories about entrepreneurs paint an all or nothing picture of incredible success. But I can assure you there’s no such thing as an overnight success – and for our local entrepreneurs, that realization can lead to the unexpected life as a ‘consultrepeneur’ (Yes – I made that word up) where you find side consulting projects to support your entrepreneur dreams.

This past Columbus Startup Week in May was full of stories from consultrepreneurs – both on stage and at happy hours throughout the week. Alex Frommeyer, founder of Beam Technologies, shared the real origin story of consulting on the side to help support his startup. It’s a smart way to bring in extra cash without giving up equity in a company… but it can lead to difficult answers to the ubiquitous ‘what do you do?’ question.

So, readers of 1812 – I want to hear your thoughts – especially if you’re a consultrepreneur! Are you a consultant? You might not seem serious about your startup. Are you a startup founder? You might miss out on a consulting opportunity that could bring in extra cash. Or are you both? With the long complicated answer that follows…