We all know that being an entrepreneur is tough and that it takes a mental, physical and emotional toll. We hear so many motivational speakers and experts throw around terms like “commitment”, “sacrifice” and “getting out of your comfort”. However, most new entrepreneurs continue to underestimate actually what the price of success can be and not be prepared to go all the way in paying in it.
I would argue that most businesses don’t actually fail due to lack of sales, capital or experience. They fail because the founders underestimated the price they would have to pay before achieving all of those things. By having a better idea from the start what price you will need to pay to reach a goal, you will be better prepared (especially mentally and emotionally) to face the challenges that you will inevitably face on your way to success.
I’m not saying any of this in a negative or discouraging way here. I am the first person to encourage almost anybody to become an entrepreneur and do what it takes to succeed. I firmly believe we all have what it takes to achieve a degree of success if we skill up properly and prepare. Prepare for the roller coaster that is entrepreneurship and when you do hit those tough curves and highs and lows, you will know it’s coming and be ready to take it on. Here are some sacrifices that I think are more commonly underestimated. Keep in mind these aren’t absolute rules. There very well are people out there who have figured out how to have their cake and eat it too. But if you’re going to step into the ring of entrepreneurship, you need to be prepared to fight.
1. Their social life.
At least in the early stages of launching your company, you can most likely kiss most of your social life goodbye. Friendships will suffer. The best ones will stay by you. But you have to realize that to overcome the massive odds against you when starting a company, it takes long hours, late nights and early mornings. This doesn’t always leave much time for hanging out or going to the club.
If there’s one aspect of your life that will be impacted most by becoming an entrepreneur, it’s probably your sleep habits. Hopefully you don’t need a whole lot of sleep. If you do, learn how to get by on less. I sleep 5 hours a night and I have many successful friends who sleep even less than that. There are only 24 hours in a day so when you are putting 14+ hour days at the office, those hours need to come from somewhere.
3. Mindless entertainment.
While it may be thrilling to watch the latest season of your favorite Netflix show or see that new movie at the theater that everyone on Facebook is talking about, it’s a far more valuable use of your time to be reading and listening to podcasts that improve your skills, raise your game and keep raising your standards for success. You only have 24 hours in a day, don’t waste them on consuming content that doesn’t help you grow.
4. Their comfort zone.
Your comfort zone is a deadly place and should become your public enemy #1. Any time you are starting to feel comfortable, you are probably not growing fast enough. One good indicator of whether or not you are falling back into your comfort zone is looking at the problems you face. If you have no problems or the same problems, you are stuck. If you are constantly creating new problems for yourself, you’re growing, and that’s where you want to be. Don’t do what’s comfortable or reasonable. Karl Wallenda said, “Life is lived out on the wire. The rest is just waiting."
There will be many times when you feel like you are sacrificing your mental sanity. People will call you crazy, weird, insane and obsessed. Sometimes you’ll even question the risks you are taking. All I can say about this is a quote from George Bernard Shaw, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." Pull this quote out whenever you feel pressured to conform to what's "reasonable".
This is tough for many founders, but leadership is not a popularity contest. As a leader, your responsibility is to make the decisions that are best for the long term success of the company and the team. This includes the tough decisions that nobody else wants to make or embrace. There will be many times when a tough decision makes you unpopular in the short term. This is part of the price of leadership and as an entrepreneur, you need to be comfortable with being unpopular sometimes.