South by Southwest

Self-made millionaire: Don't start your own business—unless you have this trait


Family. Friends. Sleep. Time to play.

For many people, these are the fundamental joys of life. But if you dream of being a entrepreneur, get ready to sacrifice them all.

That's according to Marcus Lemonis, a self-made millionaire and the star of CNBC's "The Partner."

"When people are worried they will burn out, about their work life balance, about quality of life, I am like, 'Okay, then go work somewhere and have a 9-to-5,'" says Lemonis, who was speaking at the SXSW Festivals and Conferences in Austin, Texas, on Saturday.

The idea of launching a start-up that grows to be worth billions of dollars in a few years, like Snap or Uber, is alluring, but Lemonis says most people don't understand what's really involved in getting a business off the ground.

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"The thing this country and maybe other countries don't understand enough about the small business entrepreneur is that you are not just risking your money. You essentially make sacrifices. You lose relationships, spouses, you get divorced. Your relationships with your kids aren't what they should be. Your relationship with your faith aren't necessarily what they should be. Your relationship with your neighbors aren't what they could or should be," says Lemonis.

"Those are the sacrifices that I think you have to understand and make in order to be an entrepreneur."

Lemonis started mowing lawns and working as a club promoter in college, before he got into the automobile industry. Now he is the chairman and CEO of recreational vehicle dealership Camping World, which he took public in an initial public offering that raised $251 million. He's also an investor and advisor in small businesses.

When Lemonis does break down mentally or emotionally, he says he takes a day to be alone and that helps a bit. "It's a mild recharge," he says.

In general, though, he says, it's not possible to achieve a reasonable work-life balance. And potential entrepreneurs should go in with their eyes open. "It is a choice that we make," he says. "It's a life choice."

See also:

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Gary Vaynerchuk: 'Insecurity is a killer' and here's how to beat it