The life of an entrepreneur seems grand. Being your own boss, chasing your dreams, and exemplifying American grit are the not-so-secret glories of foundership. But those are, at best, half the story.
Nobody wants to dissuade someone else from pursuing the life they want. As a result, many new founders never hear the dirty truths of entrepreneurship until they’re knee-deep in them.
I believe in discussing the good, bad, and the ugly sides of entrepreneurship. And today we’ll talk about the likely challenges.
WHAT NEW ENTREPRENEURS CAN EXPECT
Before you dive into your entrepreneurial journey, make sure you understand what you’re in for. Let’s get started:
- PREPARE FOR THE HARDEST THING YOU’LL EVER DO.
There are few professional journeys harder than entrepreneurship, and it is not for the faint of heart. It might just be the most motivating and fulfilling thing you’ll ever do, but If you’re not prepared for the challenge, you may find yourself missing that desk job you thought you wanted to escape.
Remember that there’s no growth in the comfort zone. If you want to rise to the challenge, you’ll need to learn new skills, manage your resources wisely, meet new people, and confront your own biases. Be sure you have a good support network before you embark.
- SAY GOODBYE TO TIME OFF.
Freedom and flexibility are often used interchangeably, but entrepreneurs learn quickly that they’re different things.
Sure, you can set your own working hours. Yes, you can technically take a vacation whenever you want. In reality though, you have to really prioritize time off to have any.
Even when you do take a day off, business will be on your mind. Whether you’re at your desk or on a beach in Tahiti with your family, there will be phone calls to field and emails to respond to.
But remember, you’ll be working for yourself. Even if it’s time-consuming, you’ll be doing something you love.
- GRIND FOR THE FIRST FIVE YEARS.
While entrepreneurs may hit the ground running, their startups likely will not. It doesn’t matter how much money is invested into them: Startups do not scale overnight.
Building a business takes time. Generally speaking, you should expect a five-year grind. If you’re able to do more than cover your personal expenses, you should consider yourself lucky.
If you do manage to make money, you’ll want to reinvest it into your business. There will always be a supply shortage somewhere, or a role in need of a new hire.
- PLAN TO LIVE WITHOUT INCOME.
A jump into entrepreneurship does not mean immediate financial stability. In fact, you should plan to go two years with no significant income.
Before committing to entrepreneurship, make sure you have ample savings. What if the economy collapses? How will you pay your medical bills if you get sick? Be prepared to live frugally to make ends meet.
- FOCUS ON YOUR MINDSET.
With many jobs, you can execute your way to success. As long as you keep putting hours in, you’ll get the job done.
Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, is about your mindset. Because you’ll need to wear so many different hats, you won’t succeed unless you’re willing to learn something new every day. I’m a big fan of mediation and you might even consider a professional coach to help you create the right new habits.
Either way, you need to prioritize a strategy and approach to focus on your mindset every day.
- PREPARE TO FAIL.
No one wants to tell you that you might fail. The scarier thing to think about is it might be exactly what you NEED to eventually succeed. It’s not an encouraging thing to say, but it’s actually the norm among entrepreneurs. By some counts, 90% of startups fail.
You need to be mentally and emotionally prepared for failure. Don’t let the possibility stop you from trying, but do realize you may need to try again and again.
You should also be financially prepared for entrepreneurial failure. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Make sure that you can still take care of yourself and your family, even if the worst were to occur.
- LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE.
While you will be the primary engine behind your startup, you’ll need a lot of help. Ultimately, your people skills will be just as important as your business savvy.
To secure funding, you’ll have to learn how to deal with investors. To manage employees, you’ll have to learn the difference between leading and commanding people. And most importantly, you’ll need to figure out how to market to customers, close sales, and handle hard situations with customer service.
None of this is meant to scare you away from starting your own business. In fact, being realistic is part and parcel of entrepreneurship. Now that you know what to expect, grab your ideas and let’s get to work.
Equipped with the harsh words of reality, you now have a better perspective of what entrepreneurship really is. Grab your ideas and roll up your sleeves; let’s get to work.