What life as an entrepreneur's really like

NINA HENDY
Last updated 16:36 04/12/2013
Fred Schebesta
Fairfax
TOUGH BEGINNINGS: Fred Schebesta is now extremely successful, but the early days when he was establishing himself as an entrepreneur were a major struggle.

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Fred Schebesta has come a long way since he began his chasing an entrepreneurial life nearly a decade ago. While he's successful, healthy and fulfilled these days, it was a different story back in the beginning.

"I was pale, overweight and stressed out. I ate spaghetti most nights and looked sickly all the time. I remember my dentist was even concerned about my health, asking me if I ground my teeth."

Schebesta says while most people believe that the life of an entrepreneur is one star-studded event after another, the truth is that life can include stages of having no money, lots of stress, struggling to switch off after hours and even bouts of feeling depressed.

Schebesta's latest venture, Finder.com.au operates online financial comparison sites including CreditCardFinder.com.au, PersonalLoanFinder.com.au and HomeLoanFinder.com.au. And while he's extremely successful, the early days when he was establishing himself as an entrepreneur were a major struggle, he admits.

"I found I was tired all the time and just didn't make the time for myself.

"Even today, I constantly wake up at 4am and can't switch off, so pull out my laptop and start working. These days I know what I'm like, so I know to work when I'm inspired and sleep when I'm tired.

Fellow Sydney entrepreneur Martin Martinez admits life as an entrepreneur isn't always what it seems.

He sold the remaining 25 per cent of the Australian Poker League in 2011, which had made A$50 million ($55 million) a year in three years. He is now launching a membership card for entrepreneurs listing various benefits, called Entrepreneur Card.

Martinez says there can be a lot of mixed emotions when you're starting a new venture.

"You think you've got something really good on the go, but when you're doing all the mundane stuff like dealing with accountants and getting it off the ground, it can be boring."

Martinez was involved in various ventures, but his wife asked him to slow down after they had their first child, which he's done. But admits it was hard.

"Often, you can't control it once you've had that 'a-ha' moment and you've got a great idea and want to launch a new business. You just want to get started.

"I'm a business junkie. It's not the making money that attracts me; it's how it's made. I love to see a business disrupting an entire industry.

Of course, there are, of course plenty of up sides, both men admit.

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Schebesta takes a break whenever he feels he needs it and has personal training sessions twice a week.

"I'm super mindful of my personal state of mind because I got depressed in the past. And I've been at a point where I've needed to take a break because I'm not making good business decisions."

Martinez also has very comfortable life. He doesn't financially have to work any more, and had the cash to buy his parents a house and splurge on a A$150,000 car he bought on impulse with cash.

Melbourne tech entrepreneur Gary Tramer says the upside for him has been membership to the Entrepreneur's Organisation, which has a 10,000-strong global club for those with million-dollar businesses. He's been a member for two years.

Benefits are plenty, he says.

"It's a global network that treats you like a VIP wherever you go, exclusive monthly intimate events with incredible speakers and unfettered access to banking, legal and accounting resources at tier one firms across Australia.

"And you can call on anyone within the network at any time for a chat, connection, introduction, help, advice or perhaps to start a new business."

It's all food for thought for all the wannabe entrepreneurs out there, who think life will be filled with party invites and regular holidays abroad.

Martinez shared that life as an entrepreneur can be a lonely time.

Making so much money didn't change him, but did change the people around him, he says.

"When you're successful, people see you differently. People around you change their behaviour, which is disappointing."

He's also often approached by strangers who chew his ear off about their own business ideas.

"I've found that you tend to become cynical because you don't know what people's true intentions are any more."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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