How to succeed as an entrepreneur

Why do so many aspiring entrepreneurs close up shop after only a few months inbusiness? Often it's because they have unrealistic expectations about theentrepreneurial life. They want the freedom to pursue their passions, earnunlimited incomes and call their own shots, but they don't consider the harshrealities that afflict start-up entrepreneurs--erratic cash flow, 60- to90-hour workweeks, and intense feelings of isolation and discouragement. As aresult, they crack under the pressure of tough times and flee to the nextavailable "real" job.

What's the solution? Get real with yourself before you leave behind theworld of steady paychecks and affordable health-care benefits. The big moneymay or may not come, but as an entrepreneur, here's what you're guaranteed toexperience:

1. Setbacks. What distinguishes successful entrepreneurs from those whodon't make it is that they persist toward their goals, no matter what obstaclesthey face.

Take Peter Kurtz, 34, for example, whose Digital Air Control Inc. designs,installs and maintains building automation systems for commercial officebuildings. "One of the biggest challenges I faced when I started my company,"the Houston entrepreneur recalls, "was convincing customers to purchase anexpensive, sophisticated automation system for their facility from a start-upcompany that was based in a garage apartment and had no financial backing."

2. The victim trap. Kurtz could have wallowed in self-pity when heencountered his first rejections from prospective customers and financiers--andmost people would have understood his plight. But Kurtz resisted the temptationto declare himself a victim of other peoples' actions, resolving to keep hisfocus on the things he could change.

When you're tempted to blame others for your circumstances, say to yourself,"My decisions have brought me here. What can I do to overcome this obstacle?"Then brainstorm a list of at least 20 possible solutions. When you takeresponsibility for your circumstances and focus on the things you can controland influence, you feel more confident--and less stressed out--about yourability to make your business succeed.

3. Where's the boss? Many aspiring entrepreneurs dream of being theirown boss but don't realize that being the Big Kahuna is actually hard work.When you're the boss, kicking back for a few hours could mean missing amortgage payment or drastically cutting this week's grocery budget.