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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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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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