Being an entrepreneur is full of potential, as is highlighted by articles, interviews and books that showcase successful stories. There’s also a less picturesque side to being an entrepreneur, one that’s not often talked about. Here are some of the less-said truths about starting your own business.
1. You’re Starting A Business — Not An Idea.
Many bludgeoning entrepreneurs base their hopes on an idea they have. An idea is just one component of a business, though. To be successful, you’re going to also need to execute.
Planning the execution is much less captivating at cocktail parties and holiday dinners, but it’s at least as important as the idea a business is based on. In many cases, the execution is even more important.
2. Your Life Becomes Your Work.
He promise of maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a myth. When you start your own business, your life becomes your work. Not only will you put in long hours, but even when you aren’t working you’ll still be thinking about it, dreaming about it and talking about it.
This doesn’t preclude business owners from enjoying time with family, friends and others. Just be aware that much of that time will still be related to work. You’ll want to discuss work-related problems with your family, and your friends will know you through the work you do. After all, you’ll be putting in so many hours there won’t be much else to talk about.
3. Getting Started Is Easy.
Starting your own business is easy. There’s a freeing feeling that comes with quitting your job and the possibilities that working for yourself offers. In the beginning, a business is a new adventure where anything (thought mostly of only as success, though) is possible.
This euphoric feeling doesn’t last forever. When the stresses of running a business come, the honeymoon period quickly disappears.
4. You Need Discipline And Determination.
When running your own business isn’t fun anymore, you need the character of success. That’s discipline and determination, which are far more important to entrepreneurial success than intelligence, creativity or luck. It’s discipline and determination that will drive you to work when you’re tired, when there’s a sports game on, when your child wants to play and when the business isn’t succeeding.
5. You Won’t See Profits For Years.
Speaking of success, don’t expect to see any financial success for years. Most businesses don’t turn a profit in their first year, and it’s not until year three that they recoup their initial investment.
During this time, you need a method of affording living expenses. Plan on living cheap off a partner’s income, second (or third, fourth, fifth) job, or savings. You can’t count on a business’ profits.
6. You’ll Be Doing Everything.
Working for yourself means you’re in charge of everything. For many business owners, that results in them doing everything every day. For others, that means taking care of whatever employees don’t do. Be prepared to take out the trash, clean the toilet and empty the fridge. Also plan on handling IT, HR and everything else you don’t know.
7. You Need Support.
Working for yourself doesn’t mean being by yourself. In fact, becoming a successful entrepreneur all but requires having a network of support around you.
This support network includes both people at work and outside of work. You can’t lead a business for long without workers (e.g. employees, contractors, partners, etc.) or encouragers (e.g. family, friends, entrepreneurs, etc.). You’ll get burnt out on your own.
8. You’re Allowed to Make Mistakes.
Plan on making mistakes, and a lot of them. For every entrepreneurial success story, there are many more stories of entrepreneurs — including the same successful entrepreneur — making mistakes. When you’re doing what others haven’t and learning on the job, you won’t do everything perfectly.
Allowing yourself to make mistakes is one of the keys to starting your own business. If you wait until you can do everything perfectly, you’ll be waiting until you’re dead and not doing anything.
9. You Stand A Good Chance Of Failing.
Half of all businesses close within their first five years. These are businesses that were started by bright, determined, creative entrepreneurs just like you. You’re not special. You could fail.
Failing is okay, though. Giving yourself permission to make the biggest mistake of failing is the key to getting started, and you won’t have success without starting. With failure comes lessons that could help make your next business the successful one.
There are many reasons to not start a business. For entrepreneurs, though, there’s one that justifies everything involved in the process. It’s the opportunity to control your own destiny, be your own boss and influence the world through your own business. That’s accomplishment that few other things offer.