Hard Truths of Entrepreneurship
Over 25 years ago, I took the plunge and started my own business. And it looked nothing like what I expected.
Security. I expected it would make my family and I feel more secure.
Freedom. I expected that I would have more freedom in how I spent my time.
Passion. I expected that I would get to work in my passion all the time.
However, I was very quickly faced with some hard truths of entrepreneurship. Hard truths that pulled the rose-colored glasses off of my eyes, leaving the harsh realities of business for me to experience fully.
Instead of security, most of my time in business has felt more like walking on jello.
Will this venture work? Should I continue down this path?
Instead of freedom, I often had to work very long hours and make some difficult decisions about where I spent my time. Do I go to my son’s baseball game? Do I have to miss another family dinner?
Instead of working in my passion immediately, I found myself spending a lot of time doing mostly things I didn’t much care for. Do I really have to make phone calls? Do I have to spend money and time at leads groups?
Now, it is true that today I feel much more secure, have more freedom with my time, and get to work in where I am most passionate. However, I had to work many years and make many hard decisions to get here.
Entrepreneurs in the Media
The media today paints a very perfect and glamorous picture of entrepreneurs. The big entrepreneurs of the day and their stories are treated much like movie stars. We pick up magazines and read articles about the Mark Zuckerberg’s and the Steve Jobs’ of the world and we “Ooh & Ahh”. We seek to be like them because we see their current success.
What these articles and interviews fail to capture is the realities of the every day business. Most of us won’t wake up tomorrow with an idea that will pay out billions of dollars immediately. Most of us also probably don’t have the flexibility to work strictly within our areas of passion only.
We need to get out of the instant success mindset and see at what the business journey really looks and feels like.
The reality is that most people should NOT become entrepreneurs. The majority of people would do very well keeping their 9 to 5 job working for someone else. There is nothing wrong with this! There is honor and security in this decision. Not all of us have the flexibility to leave a stable job to start a business on our own. While the world is telling us we have to go out and start a business, the simple truth is: not everyone is cut out for it.
Timing is everything. It is often times the case that the timing isn’t always right. Some individuals are not in a position to start a business right now. However, this does not mean that there is one decided future. Nothing in life stays the same. Situations and even people change, which may encourage the entrepreneurial opportunities.
It’s important to find out if you are ready for the new adventure before you make the leap into a new business.
Taking the Leap Into Entrepreneurship
Here are 4 reasons you may not be ready to start your own business.
You Need Security
Here is the truth.
Even in the best of times in our business, there is always a lack of security. Successful entrepreneurs are never satisfied with a great sale or a great contract, because they need to be looking down the road to the next one. Entrepreneurs know that the contract they just obtained might not renew next year. That buyer they just sold to might ask for a return. Those customers may not turn into loyal, repeat clients and they might not refer their friends.
The entrepreneur cannot put the responsibility of the success of his business on his clients. The entrepreneur must put that responsibility on himself.
If you need the security of knowing where your next paycheck is coming from and that you will keep the status quo, then entrepreneurship is not for you, at least, not yet.
You Expect Instant Gratification
Over the past 30 years of owning my own business, I can only recall a handful of moments where I felt satisfied.
It was never instant.
Very few cases, if any, did I make a phone call or do a task to then turn around and immediately see the fruits of my labor. The work done should be an investment towards the future success of the business. This means that you don’t always feel the success and accomplishment today.
Now don’t get me wrong, there have been many nights I have gone to bed tired from a satisfying day’s work. There is nothing more satisfying than going to bed feeling you took some big strides. However, most nights, entrepreneurs go to bed tired, but seeing the still to-do list instead of the done list. This is because the items on the “done” list don’t often have an instant reward at their completion.
You Expect Instant Success
Spoiler alert! Not every business I’ve started have succeeded.
I am not in the same business I started 30 years ago. In fact, I’m not even in the second business I started. One of these businesses outright failed.
Our main business, the one’s that did succeed, first needed to evolve. We looked at the market and the economy and the changing needs of our clients and adapted our businesses to accommodate those changes.
Our business has never been something static or something we felt was a complete success. That is because a business is always changing and adapting. Even the biggest companies can fail if they don’t keep adapting, bringing in new leads, and embracing technology. (And many of them are.)
You Don’t Know The “Why”
A business owner must keep a clear view of why they have chosen to own a business. Business owners do things they don’t want to do. They make phone calls, write content, do interviews, organize files, file taxes, and even take out the trash. The business owner often wears many hats and not all of those hats fit comfortably.
Why do they do it? What motivates them to do the hard things?
These motivators are not just things you find on a dream board, like a European vacation or a sail boat. These are much deeper “whys”, such as working to pay for a spouse’s medical treatments, freedom from debt collectors, or watching their children graduate from college. Without this motivator, the phone calls will not get made and the long hours will become shorter and shorter.
We all have a “why” for getting up every day. We have a “why” for going to our normal jobs and everything that we do. What we need to do is identify that “why” is and connect its success or failure to the future of our business. Once we see that our business will help us achieve what we truly desire and need, the things we don’t want to do become less and less of a barrier.
The unpleasant tasks, the long hours, and prioritizing become merely a means to an end. This end being your success, in whatever way you measure it.