For many of us, starting a successful business is the ultimate career goal. No more having to work in order to make someone else rich and no more having to struggle through the never-ending 9-5 rat-race. Best of all, starting a business means you can be your own boss now. You can determine your own schedule, make up your own rules, and give yourself the chance to make more money than you ever thought possible.
While the benefits of becoming an entrepreneur are certainly there, don’t be blindsided by the reality of what it means to really start your own business. It will not be easy. Here are 6 things I ended up learning as an entrepreneur that I wish someone had told me before I launched my business:
1. Having an idea isn’t enough
Beginner entrepreneurs like to think that if they have an amazing idea, the rest will follow soon enough. Not true. In fact, oftentimes the more original the idea, the harder it is to actually implement because there’s no blueprint to follow from past business’ successes and failures. New ideas are also often more risky, meaning it can be harder to raise startup funds or get others to buy into your business concept.
While having an idea of what you want your business to be about is obviously an important first step, it’s the execution of that idea that will ultimately determine if your business fails or succeeds.
2. It’s not going to be a steady climb
Most of us envision our entrepreneurial journey as this slow and steady climb from the very bottom to the very top. You imagine yourself starting out with nothing, then slowly building yourself a business empire. Sadly, that’s not how business works. You can get 100 customers one month, 200 customers the month after that, 300 customers in the third month, then suddenly drop back down to 50 customers in the fourth if things don’t go according to plan.
This is true in the SEO world too. Don’t think just because you started on page 20 of the Google search results and now you’ve made it to page two, that this means page one is inevitably within your grasps. You can just as easily fall back down to page three or four as opposed to moving up to page one if you don’t continue building links and optimizing your site. Once you begin your business journey, you’ll find that success is sporadic and erratic, not linear.
3. Your biggest obstacle is yourself
Setbacks are inevitable, and when they occur, they’re going to make you feel like giving up and returning to the 9-5 life you used to have – even if it is just as miserable as you remember it to be. There will be other days when you realize that being your own boss comes with its own set of challenges. You might lack the discipline to focus on your work. You might be unsure with how to proceed with the direction of the company. You might start to doubt yourself and lose your nerve when it comes to making the big-time decisions. As glamorous as success is, the fear of failing is just as real.
4. You’ll have to work more than you think
People often want to become business owners in order to have more time in the day for them to do other things besides work. They might have read Tim Ferriss’ book, “The 4-Hour Workweek”, where he brags about escaping the 9-5 life and having loads of time to travel and enjoy life. While this is certainly true if you end up building yourself a stable money-making machine the way Tim has, getting there usually takes many, many years. Be prepared to work harder on your business than you ever had while working a 9-5 job – at least until you’ve “made it.”
5. Starting a business doesn’t work as a side hustle
Not everyone wants to run the risk of quitting their jobs to follow their dreams. Instead, they might opt to start a business sort of as a side hustle or hobby. While this may indeed be the less risky option and perhaps even the smarter one, having the mindset of “I’m going to just do this as a side project and if it works out, then great, and if not, I always have my old job to fall back to” is not exactly what you’d call a winning mentality. Many entrepreneurs burn all their bridges by quitting their jobs to go full-time and still struggle to find enough time to make things work.
While some of this might sound like I’m trying to scare you away from pursuing your dreams as an entrepreneur, I’m not. In fact, I wish I learned about these things sooner so I could have incorporated them into my planning when I first started out as an entrepreneur.