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10 Things No One Will Tell You About Being an Entrepreneur

10 Things No One Will Tell You About Being an Entrepreneur

It’s Friday, the end of another tediously-long work week, working for a person or a company you don’t particularly believe in, doing work that doesn’t inspire you. You find yourself, once again, day dreaming about the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur, working for yourself, making way more money than you could at a 9 to 5 job, and having the freedom and flexibility you’ve always wanted. You’ve got a great idea, or perhaps several great ideas, and you’re incredibly close to walking into your boss’ office to quit your job and embrace the life of the solo-preneur.

Excellent idea! Nothing beats the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Before you make the leap though, consider these ten challenges of being an entrepreneur.

1. You will be your business.

Every single aspect of your business is a direct reflection of you.

You will have to confront your own demons. If you don’t believe in your dream, if you aren’t highly motivated, if you have a tendency to self-sabotage, or if your business idea is completely misaligned to who you are as a person, then all of that will be reflected in your business. You won’t succeed. You are the creator of your own destiny. How you function will be how your business functions.

On the flip side, you will be your business when it’s successful! All aspects of your business will be a direct reflection of your success. And you are fantastic, sans demons.

2. You will have to know yourself to know your business.

Why? Because (see above) every aspect of your business is a direct reflection of you. If you don’t know who you are, what motivates you, crushes you, inspires you, and what your strengths and weaknesses are then you aren’t really serving yourself in your own life, and you certainly aren’t being of service to your own business.

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If you hate direct sales and love bookkeeping, then know that about yourself, and get the support you need so that sales will still get done in your business and you won’t hide behind the auspices of bookkeeping. If you know you only function on deadline, start creating daily deadlines for yourself. Know how you work, how you don’t work, and figure out how to maximize your potential and either learn how to do what you can’t do, or hire out what you can’t or won’t do.

3. You will not be your own boss.

You being the Founder, CEO and President of your own company means nothing, because you will also hold every other title. You generate the trash and you take out the trash. Your real boss is your customer (and your technology). They call the shots, and you must figure out how to respond to their wants and needs…all the time.

Once you have customers, it can be liberating to respond to their needs rather than just build the infrastructure of your business. They will be your customers, investing in you and your products!

4. You will miss having a steady paycheck.

And you will not initially be the highest paid person in your business. Most likely your tech support will be. Unless you choose to be your own tech support to “save money,” which will actually cost you money because you will spend hours every single day working on your website, auto responder, social media, SEO, and other tech savvy ways of reaching out to customers. Entrepreneurs spend the majority of their business day building and managing the infrastructure of their businesses.

You will not be the first paid: your infrastructure will.

These hours will accrue on top of all of the hours you will spend developing content for your business, marketing, networking, bookkeeping. In other words, the work-life balance which you managed to have in your day job with the steady paycheck will no longer exist.

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But all of the hours and all of the money your business earns will be yours to do with as you please. There is no upper management taking a cut of profits because you are now upper management.

5. You will be frustrated by everything.

Everything will take twice as long…if it even happens. What seems easy on paper (launch a new website) can take weeks or even months if it’s at all complicated, or if it includes a shopping cart of available products. Writing marketing copy takes twice as long and you will find yourself frustrated by blank pages, customers who need any explanation or sales pitch, as well as the whole marketing industry.

But the end result is that you will become an expert in technology, website design, marketing and sales, bookkeeping, product development, copywriting, networking, and business acumen. You will become an expert in these areas when you push past your frustration and stick with it.

6. You will be frustrated by everyone.

Your friends and family won’t get what you are doing and might not even won’t support you. Your customers (if any) will frustrate you. Your virtual assistant, web guy, bank manager, and any and all sales representatives will piss you off. Nothing will move at the pace you will like it to, and everyone in your life who is not an entrepreneur will annoy you, irritate you, and cause you to stop answering your phone.

Plus, the majority of people you interact with will not believe in your vision, and will nitpick it apart until you start doubting your own abilities and ideas.

But when your dream actually happens, when that first customer pays for your service or product, you will have proved everyone else wrong. And, more importantly, you will have believed in the most important person in your life–you.

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7. Self doubt will become your new best friend.

…and your bed will be your constant companion.

Seriously, if you are in bed reading this article, the most practical advice I can give you is to get out of bed. Find a different dedicated space to work from.

Self doubt is normal and natural in entrepreneurs, sometimes as familiar to us as breathing air. That does not mean that self doubt gets to be the master. Figure out what you need to move through self doubt–a team of trusted advisors, a mantra you say to yourself when you start doubting, therapy, a time out. The more frequently you are able to move through self doubt the less hold it has on you.

8. Your first iteration of your business will be wrong.

Sorry folks, I didn’t believe that either. That was until I reworked my business just two months in, and then four months after that. Defining your business is like a dance between yourself, your belief in yourself, and your customers. The more you understand yourself and your customers the more your business will be reshaped to reflect the best of who you are and the deepest needs of your clients.

The more you allow the dance to happen, as a natural course of events, the better your business will be.

9. You will not be all things to all people.

You have to buckle down and create a niche. The more watered down your business, the less successful you will be.

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Trying to be all things to all people doesn’t work and comes off as a flaky business strategy. This can annoy you and your customers, as neither of you will really understand what the business is about. Being all things doesn’t serve you or your customers. If you don’t know what you’re selling and who you’re selling to, how will the customers know they need to buy it?

Stop trying to be everything. Your success lies in specificity.

10. You will become an expert on all aspects of your business, whether you like it or not.

This point deserves repeating. One of the most rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur is in how fast you become an expert in all aspects of running a business. It can be a painful process: like learning to ride a bike, drive a car, and do multiplication tables all while having your teeth extracted (I’m not exaggerating). But then, on the other side, you are a wealth of knowledge and information about small business! It is an empowering feeling to understand your own business inside and out.

Still think you want to be an entrepreneur, even after reading this? Excellent–you may have what it takes! Believe in yourself, take a calculated leap, and fly. I believe in you.

Featured photo credit: Macbook Pro Keyboard Detail/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

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Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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