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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 October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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