The Truth About Entrepreneurship
No one said it would be easy, but no one said it would be this difficult either.
We all go into business knowing that it won’t be a walk in the park and yet most of us are still ill-prepared for the realities of how hard starting a business can actually be.
What got to me the most was the loneliness of being an entrepreneur. Nothing prepared me for that. All of my friends worked in corporate jobs and none of them could understand the challenges of business ownership. After a while I no longer had anything in common with them.
As a start-up you’re also doing everything yourself, which means you probably don’t have colleagues — and if you do, they’re your employees and you can’t share your fears and challenges with them anyway.
The one good thing is that there are no meetings about meetings. You can also make decisions quickly, without endless bureaucracy — and yes, more meetings. The downside is that you have no one to bounce those decisions off. After a little while you miss people and wish you could share some of your challenges (and wins) with someone who understands what you’re going through.
Join the club
Only 5% of the world’s population are entrepreneurs. That’s scary when you consider that every business in the world was started by an entrepreneur. The reason why there are so few entrepreneurs is that entrepreneurship is hard. It’s that simple.
Because for the most part no one prepares you for how hard and lonely this journey is going to be, when it does get hard most people simply quit. They quit because they think they must be doing it wrong, and without anyone to share their challenges with, they don’t realise that this is normal. Entrepreneurship is tough.
One of the hardest things about running a business is that at some point money will — and does — run out. And yet your responsibilities don’t change. You still have rent, staff and other expenses that must be paid. It’s a stressful time and often caused by a client who hasn’t paid you on time for a big job you’ve completed for them. This is a very real problem, and it can kill a business.
Going it alone
If you’d had someone to talk to before taking on the big project, you might have received advice that it’s prudent to ask for a 70% deposit before agreeing to a job of that size. Sometimes that enormous order that seemed so incredible can actually hurt your business.
But because you make these decisions by yourself and are chasing sales you took the job and put all your resources into it. Financial institutions are not generally keen to assist in these situations. And if you do manage to get financial assistance it will be expensive.
Your family and friends certainly don’t get it either. Even if you had the guts to approach your family you know it won’t help, they don’t have the money.
So what is the solution?
- Know that there will be hard times and be emotionally prepared for them
- Hard times do pass, so don’t quit
- Join entrepreneurial forums and groups
- Read voraciously, there are a lot of lessons to be learnt from others
- Watch and listen to podcasts and TED videos
- Contribute to the entrepreneurial community and blog your experiences
- Get a mentor who can also become a friend. Good mentors speak to you and don’t look down on you
- Have a board of directors for your business no matter how small.