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5 Truths About Entrepreneurship You're Better Off Knowing From the Start

The choice to become an entrepreneur is about how you will live your life, not just how you will make a living.

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The entrepreneurial lifestyle can offer many perks. It's exciting, it's creative, and you can potentially create products or services that can have a positive impact on the world. However, being an entrepreneur isn't always easy. You'll encounter plenty of obstacles along the way, and maintaining motivation day in and day out can be tough.

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I believe that the incredible benefits of entrepreneurship make the harder parts worthwhile. That having been said, there are a few things I wish I'd known when I was first starting out. Here, I'll share what I believe are five things entrepreneurs need to know:

1. It takes hard work.

From the outside looking in, the entrepreneurial lifestyle can look pretty cool: you're creating, you're making things happen, you're designing your own schedule and life. However, it's not all glamour and jetsetting. Being an entrepreneur takes plenty of hard work and discipline. As an entrepreneur, you're responsible for forging your own path. This can require a lot of legwork, research, and often includes plenty of ups and downs.

You'll likely work harder than you ever have in your life, log more hours than you ever would in a day job, and will have a much higher level of accountability. But for entrepreneurs who are passionate about what they do, it's worth the effort.

Related: Hard Work? It's Not All It's Cracked up to Be. It May Even Be Irrelevant. Here's Why.

2. Self motivation is key.

To be a successful entrepreneur, self motivation is vital. After all, most entrepreneurs are typically not following a traditional business path. You'll need a lot of mental and emotional "fuel" to maintain the energy and enthusiasm necessary to get your potential projects off the ground.

Setting clear cut goals is a great way to effectively manufacture a healthy source of motivation for yourself.

Take the time to really define your goals and what is motivating you as an entrepreneur. Be specific. For instance, are you motivated because you want to earn enough money so that you can buy a yacht? Or is your goal to create a school for underprivileged kids? There isn't a right or wrong here, just be honest with yourself about what motivates you.

By defining and setting specific goals, you'll always have something to keep you inspired. On days when self motivation is hard to come by, they can act like your compass, pointing you in the right direction.

Related: 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself When You're Really Not Feeling It

3. Don't underestimate the power of a mentor.

Full disclosure: when I was starting out as a trader and entrepreneur, I didn't have a mentor. In retrospect, if I'd had proper guidance, I could have attained the level of success I did far sooner.

Seeking out the guidance of a successful entrepreneur can help you gain clarity on how to take the next steps in your career. They have a larger body of experience, and as such, they can provide sage wisdom that can help you on your path. They've probably been through some ups and downs themselves, and can give you advice that can help you avoid pitfalls in your career.

These days, I try to be the mentor I never had to my day trading students. I get to see firsthand how quickly they develop skills with the proper guidance. It's almost like they get a video game "warp zone" to become successful sooner!

Related: The Secret to Finding a Great Mentor: Don't Ask to Be Mentored

4. Focus on progress, not perfection.

As an entrepreneur, you're kind of like a pioneer, heading into the wilderness without a clear path in front of you. Don't expect everything to be smooth sailing. If you strive for perfection, you're likely to be disappointed over and over. Unfortunately, there will always be roadblocks and wrong turns, and you'll likely make a mistake (or 10).

While I'm not advocating that you make mistakes on purpose, I do urge you to take them in stride. Instead of getting down on yourself, try to use these errors as your biggest teachers, helping you move forward stronger and more confident than before. If you don't make the same mistake twice, then that is progress.

5. You need to keep learning.

Yes indeed: entrepreneurs tend to be busy people. But if you really want to be successful, you need to make time to keep learning. As Albert Einstein said, "Once you stop learning, you start dying."

Becoming a lifelong learner will keep you relevant as an entrepreneur. Keep on learning about your field. Read up on your competitors. Keep abreast of world news. Learn all that you can. Not only will it help keep your mind nimble, but you never know where the next great idea might come from.

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