The "struggling artist" and the "student in debt" are generally accepted career or life stages by society that tend to encourage a more forgiving nature towards the financial capacity of individuals.
A persona that has yet to be fully embraced is the "hard-working entrepreneur." I write this amidst creating a guest list for a launch party that has been a year and a half in the making. My mission is to include all the individuals that have helped me over the years in the pursuit of my goals and looking back this list is quite long!
Entrepreneurship is a long and demanding journey, but often times we neglect to consider the strain this lifestyle puts on our relationships. The lingering words of "I don't have a budget for this" and "I can't afford your services" become second nature. Always on the "grind" and bootstrapping our way through life, we keep our hopes set on the pot of gold we see at the end of the very long rainbow.
Yet unlike a student in debt, an entrepreneur's lifestyle isn't as transparent. Depending on the line of work, entrepreneurs can be found to travel, attend special events, have influential colleagues and so on. They can hold fancy titles like "CEO," and "President," and have responsibilities of running companies. On the outside their lives can seem a lot more glamorous or successful than they are. The hard reality is most entrepreneurs are struggling and can be just as poor as a student. In fact, many entrepreneurs may have previously been students so they hold the added debt of both their business and school.
For most entrepreneurs, in the early days everything is an effort and struggle. The minimal viable product concept can extend to minimal viable lifestyle and needs. A great challenge an entrepreneur has starting out is overcoming their financial limitations to transform their ideas into reality. Investment doesn't come over night and often than not, you already need a pilot project, prototype or some part of a business developed before you can gain serious consideration. This often leaves a passionate entrepreneur at the mercy of their friends and family to support their pursuits.
Support doesn't just encompass loans and financial support. In-kind services, referrals, and mentorship from friends can be the bread and butter for early stage entrepreneurs.
The problem is an entrepreneur's journey in building their ventures is long. Receptive friends and family in your early days can soon become strained by your consistent needs. You start to become a broken record with the same struggles and needs. The worst part, is right when you hit rock bottom having used up all your leads and favours is usually when you are at the cusp of success for your venture. With a few more extra helping hands and support you could finally launch your business full force or to take your ideas to the next level.
Entrepreneurs need to be careful and respect those that have helped them. It does no good to keep knocking on the same door when you know no one is home. This is why networking is so important for entrepreneurs. Your networks become very small, very quickly. You must dedicate efforts to continue to expand your network of supporters. It's best to find new supporters to help you break over your last hurdle for your venture and in doing so preserve your relationships with your past supporters.
Despite the length of your journey, one of the most important things an entrepreneur must remember is to never forget those who helped them to their success. Often than not, we can forget those early stage supporters, the very ones that provided us our first stepping stones on our path to success.
The greatest feeling for you as an entrepreneur is not finally achieving success with your venture. It will rather lie in being able to celebrate your success with all of the people that have helped you along the way. It is one thing to celebrate your success alone. It is an entirely different matter to stand in a room filled with familiar faces from your past and present, the ones who saw you during your struggles and reminisce in the moment you smile back to them saying the words "we did it!"