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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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Emma Churchman

Emma is a Creative Business Consultant, and Leadership Coach & Trainer

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

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