One of the biggest draws to becoming an entrepreneur is creating true freedom in your life. The idea of being in control of your schedule, income and time is what drives so many of us to brave the odds and set our stake in the ground.
That said, starting a business is hard and many businesses won’t get off the ground. And many won't be profitability for years.
The stats about business failure can be scary, but they don’t have to be your story. Starting and growing a business gives you many incredible and invaluable lessons.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 19 years old and getting here -- to profitability and living my dream -- has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Starting a business taught me these five valuable lessons.
1. It’s much harder than you could have imagined.
Leaving a steady paycheck, retirement benefits and health insurance for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship is frightening. You think you know how hard it’s going to be and then you start a business and realize you really didn’t have a clue what you were getting into.
It pushes you to dig deeper and deal with failure along the way, but it helps you grow in other areas of your life. Dealing with the struggle teaches you how to get through the harder things you’ll face in life. It teaches you to focus on why you started your business and figure out a way to make things work.
2. Most people in your life won’t understand
As an entrepreneur, you’ll get to the point of giving up trying to explain your vision to family and friends -- they just won’t get it. We’re wired to seek security and a career provides security in most people’s minds. Even with the best business idea, you’ll experience resistance and confusion from those who you thought would understand.
It’s OK that most people won’t understand. Focus on building your business and dream. They might criticize you while you’re starting, or your business is down, but once you achieve success, they’ll come out of the woodwork cheering for you. Don’t bother trying to convince them what you’re doing is smart. Actions speak louder than words, so prove you know what you’re doing with the action you take.
3. There will be times when quitting isn’t even an option.
Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. Sometimes, businesses aren’t meant to carry on. That doesn’t mean life is over, it just means you have to pivot.
There are times, however, when you’re in to deep and quitting isn’t even an option. You may have too much time and money invested and have to figure out how to make things work. Sometimes you can’t quit, just like certain situations in life. During those times, do what you can to weather whatever storm comes your way. Quitting may seem like the right choice during these times, but you’re an entrepreneur for a reason -- you can find a way.
4. You will have a love/hate relationship with your business.
There will days you can’t sleep because you’re so excited about what’s happening in your business. There will also be days you can’t wait to get to bed because everything that could have gone wrong, did.
A business is something that may be in your family for generations. During that cycle, you will experience a crazy range of emotions. Never make business decisions during those emotional times. Learn to ride the ups and downs and embrace the life you’ve chosen to live.
5. The freedom it provides is priceless.
At the end of the day, you’re doing this because you value freedom. The freedom to live life on your own terms is priceless. Don’t use that freedom to work even longer than you did at your day job, use your freedom to spend your time doing what’s important to you.
The most valuable resource you have is your time, because it is the one thing you’ll never get back. How you spend your precious moments on this earth is vitally important, and they have to go beyond your business.
Related: There's Only One Way to Have It All