I've been doing a few interviews lately and some of the interviews are about my experience as an entrepreneur (not mompreneur... don't even get me started). One of the most common questions I'm asked is what advice would I give to someone thinking about starting their own business?
Honestly, my initial thought is "RUN. Don't do it. OMG... save yourself! For the love all things holy, find a job, get paid every two weeks and forget your idea!" I never actually say those words, but some days I tell ya... some days...
After I take two breaths, I then decide that's probably not very motivating or empowering, so often my next thought, and the thought I usually share is this:
No matter what happens, if you truly believe in your idea, if others truly believe in your idea, do it anyway.
Do. It. Anyway.
To help new entrepreneurs out, I thought I'd write five hard truths about entrepreneurship that you should know. This list is no where near complete, but it's a start. And if you can read this list and accept these truths, if you can do it anyway, you may just be OK.
- Loneliness. You won't experience a much lonelier place than being the founder of your company. The weight of the company is on your shoulders and its success is driven by you. Sure, you may have a team, but no one takes the brunt of all the bad things like you will have to. It isolates you in ways you can't even imagine. You may have hundreds or even thousands of people supporting you and loving you, but the loneliness you'll experience by driving your business forward is staggering. Do it anyway.
- You will let people down. No matter how hard you try not to, you're always going to let someone down. Your business partner, your client, your family, your friends...they'll take turns being let down, but you'll do it, you'll let them down. Buck up, build up, try not to make the same mistakes. Those around you who truly understand you and what you're trying to do, they'll get over it. Their grace will allow you to keep moving, keep growing and do it anyway.
- Your friends will change. As your business grows you'll find yourself having to evolve and adapt to your surroundings. You'll have to do more networking, more dinners, more events. And surprisingly enough, some of the people you're forced to network with will become new and good friends. Embrace them. On the other hand, you'll lose friends who don't understand the time and effort and energy it takes to drive a business. You need to be okay with accepting new friendships into your life and losing others. Do it anyway. (*Special note: your friends who support you and have been with you from the start...hold them close and let them know how much you need and love them. They'll be there for you, through thick and thin.*)
- Perception of success is frustrating. When your business finally gets acknowledged by others as successful, you'll be broke. Financial perception is a frustrating point for many entrepreneurs. Your business may look successful, but most business owners know that behind every success is a Founder who doesn't take a salary and a mountain of debt. You need to be OK with this. You may not be able to go out for dinner like you used to and the perception may be that you're getting snobby. The truth is you have no money; you simply can't afford to go for dinner. You're going to be broke. Do it anyway (I struggle here, I'm still learning to accept this truth).
- Having a team is more than terrifying. You may start your company on your own and you may do everything there is to do for your company. But, there will come a time that you'll need to contract people and hire employees so that balls don't get dropped and you can continue to move your business forward. While having a team is a massive accomplishment it is also terrifying. Previously, if you didn't have enough money in the bank, you just didn't pay yourself. That's not an option with a team. There always has to be money in the bank to make sure that the people working with you are taken care of. They believed in you enough that they quit their other job or changed careers to join you. That's a lot of pressure and it is absolutely one of the most terrifying aspects of business. But, build your team. Do it anyway.
See? I told you there were some hard truths when it comes to entrepreneurship. And honestly I don't want this to be read as a super-negative post. I do, however, want new entrepreneurs to know that these truths are real and these truths may cause you to stumble.
So, why do it anyway? Because when you can work with and around these truths, it's worth it. Jeeze... it's more than worth it. If you truly believe in what you're doing, like I do, no amount of hard truths would stop you.
Business is really hard. Being successful is even harder. But, through all the bad days, all the mistakes, all the lessons learned, all the doubts and all the worries, if you can get up and do it anyway, it's worth it. All the sacrifices you need to make, all the sleep you won't get and all the money you won't see for awhile... it'll come.
It. Will. Come. This, I believe 100 per cent. But, it will only come if you can push and drive and dig with these truths by your side. Just remember, no matter what... if you believe in your business, do it anyway.
This post was previously published on my blog at www.lindsagee.ca.
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