Can you cut the mustard?
The word entrepreneur is bandied around as if it applies to anyone that just starts a business and gets a website going. Calling yourself an entrepreneur is easy; anyone can do that. However have you really got what it takes and do you really know what it means?
Due to the societal construct that suggests we’re always fine, everything is great and it’s all going well, when you speak to most entrepreneurs, they will give you a generally positive impression and you’ll hear the highs more than the lows. What you don’t hear so often is the other side of the fence, which is the darker side being an entrepreneur that I’m going to share with you in this blog.
If it was easy being a successful entrepreneur, then everyone would do it. Like anything you do from a career point of view, forewarned is forearmed and you will need to live with the choices you make, so do your research first. Assuming you have a very viable business idea, with a clear and obvious customer/market fit, I believe there are a series of basic attributes that an individual needs to be a successful entrepreneur. These are my 6:
Passion – you really have to love what you do. It’s more than just a passive desire and you have to ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice to be passionate about.
Focus – you have to know what you’re doing at every stage of the way and recognise the difference between what’s important and what’s a priority. Be laser like.
Discipline – you need to get things done. You have to execute and push yourself to do the things that have to be done and at the same time be tough on yourself.
Energy – being an entrepreneur means you have an abundance of energy coupled with an eternal optimism and huge enthusiasm all the time.
Determination – who said it was easy? To succeed you have to create an unstoppable drive to achieve the things that need to be done and push forward continually, whilst never confusing motion with progress.
Grit – an entrepreneur needs a cast iron exterior and interior. You need the ability to hang in there and show fortitude and resilience every step of the way.
Assuming you possess these qualities and many more I suspect, then you’ll easily appreciate the high points of being an entrepreneur. You’ll enjoy being your own boss, you now get to call the shots, you’ve created a product, you’ve got a brand, a website, you’ve got oodles of supporters who encourage and support you with their good wishes, you’re winning clients, people are responding to your content on social platforms and you’re getting great feedback on your service. You’re feeling energized, positive and optimistic and the world’s looking pretty good for you right now.
However, if you dig a little below the surface all may not be as it seems and your average entrepreneur is probably glossing over a few things and sugar coating their current position. What many entrepreneurs don’t realise, particularly the very early stage ones are some of the following challenges.
The long hours that you need to put in that consume almost every waking moment of your life (and sometimes the hours while you’re sleep). Weekends included!
The compromises you will make with your friends and your family and your partner, who will almost always take second place in the early stages of your start up.
The stress from the reality of when things aren’t going quite as well as you expected. Cash flow is one of the single biggest worries and main reasons why companies go bust.
The back office workload, including tax returns, preparing accounts, sending invoices, arranging contracts, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. All of this is on top of you being the main person in charge and probably doing everything in your day job from sales, marketing, HR, IT and so on!!!
Your constant business plan changes to projections, wondering whether your instinct and gut feel and your best guess is right.
Creditors chasing you for money when you haven’t got any money to pay them.
Chasing clients who haven’t paid you.
Dealing with a customer issue when something hasn’t gone right.
Losing a client or not winning the sales opportunity you were relying on.
Not having enough leads or opportunities to fill your sales funnels.
The FOMO effect that you have about everybody else who seems to be doing well, particularly your competitors.
The feeling you get from the naysayers who try and quash your dreams.
Your ever dwindling cash pile, that one day will run out unless you top it up it.
Paying yourself one tenth of what you used to earning for all this hard work!!
The physical effects of not eating, the lack of sleep, poor exercise, a constant feeling of exhaustion like you’re carrying the world on your shoulders.
The relentless setbacks when your supply chain lets you down, your MVP/beta product didn’t work as planned, an investor changes their mind and decides not to invest in your venture.
What you thought would happen in your business plan that didn’t and now people (aka, investors) are asking you awkward questions.
When you have to share bad news with your stakeholders and they ask questions you don’t really want to answer.
That feeling that you’re making money, but you can’t understand why that’s not coming through in cash flow and profits.
Those anxiety moments, where you wonder if you’re good enough, thinking you’re an impostor and not really meant to be doing this. Feeling stuck and uncertain with the fear of not knowing what to do.
The compounding effects of non-response and rejection
The constant rhetorical questions you’re asking yourself: why can’t I find good people, why is everything so damned expensive, why do people not think like I do, when will I get my lucky break?
O.M.G……why did I do this?????
There’s no denying it, everything I’ve said is what most entrepreneurs will experience at some point in their journey. Every stage of the journey presents new challenges and it’s meant to. The relentless pursuit fulfillment and happiness is a journey and not a destination. When you accept there are two sides to being an entrepreneur and you recognize the importance of each and their symbiotic relationship with each other, then you will feel more at peace. After all how can you measure success if you haven’t failed? How do you know what happiness is if you’ve not been unhappy? How do you expect to win if you’ve never lost?
At the end of the day, a good business idea and a good business model, executed by good people is surefire formula for success. If you have this in your venture, then hang in there, keep going, fire yourself up and be successful…..oh and maybe get yourself a great coach!
…..and remember, it’s not just you…..we’re all in the same boat!