The Truth About Being an Entrepreneur
Being an entrepreneur can be extraordinarily rewarding.
But it is not for everyone. For starters…
- You will work harder than you’ve ever worked for anyone else.
- Setbacks, strained relationships and stress are commonplace.
No wonder so many “wannabe entrepreneurs” give up!
Derek Halpern sums up being an entrepreneur perfectly…
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA) 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10.
Of course, enormous success is also possible and there are advantages to being an entrepreneur.
Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure.
21 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being an Entrepreneur
(+ 15 Ways To Handle Setbacks as An Entrepreneur)
How many of these things have you experienced?
1) People want you to fail.
It is remarkable how many people will put you down when you explain you plan on being an Entrepreneur.
I mean, how dare you want to make something of your life!
This includes your nearest and dearest.
My first business venture was in MLM – multi-level marketing. I “failed”.
For a number of years afterwards so called friends would ask me about it, in a sneering way.
They are no longer in my life. I have moved on and built several successful businesses. They on the other hand…?
I say “failed” because you see, I didn’t really fail.
I learned so much from that experience and had my first exposure to personal development.
We live in a world with a lot of insecure, jealous people. Some of them are our best friends. They are blood relatives. Failure terrifies them. So does our success. Because when we transcend what we once thought possible, push our limits, and become more, our light reflects off all the walls they’ve built up around them. Your light enables them to see the contours of their own prison, their own self-limitations. But if they are truly the great people you always believed them to be, their jealousy will evolve, and soon their imagination might hop its fence, and it will be their turn to change for the better.
~ David Goggins
2) If your idea is unique and shows success, competitors will quickly copy you.
I started my first online business back in 1998. It was successful.
By 2001 one of the leading companies in the industry I was involved in, literally copied and pasted my content (using white text on a white background) within their website. I had to take legal action to defend my Intellectual Property.
But there are positives to ‘copycats’.
They keep you on our toes and push us to innovate.
Yes it is annoying and if it is a direct rip off of your intellectual property, you must take action, but if it is just someone else entering the same market place or niche that you discovered, then that is CAPITALISM. Get over it!
It should also be remembered that most of us have ‘copied ideas’ or been inspired by by the success of other entrepreneurs.
3) People you employ will leave your business and set up in competition with you.
These people could even be people you consider “friends”.
Additionally in a start-up people often employ friends – this puts strains on a friendship – especially if you have to FIRE them because they aren’t a “good fit”.
Managed correctly, if you know a good employee is ambitious and likely to leave, you can at an appropriate time introduce the idea of you supporting them in their new venture, perhaps making their new business a Joint Venture.
Competition from either a former employee or another business is not always a bad thing.
I would suggest it is good. It keeps us on our toes, always striving to do better.
Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.
4) Customers don’t pay.
Example: If you sell a downloadable information product – customers download the content and then ask for a refund.
5) In entrepreneurship there is no concept of weekends, you work 24/7.
You go from 9-5 to 24/7!
Start-up entrepreneurs tend to work more hours than the average full time employee in order to get their company off the ground.
Work-life balance is difficult.
When your office is not that place you go to – but instead is your bedroom or living room it is not easy to separate business and personal.
6) No one cares about your business as much as you.
Employees will work the hours you pay them to work and only that.
You will wear many hats, especially in the beginning…
CEO, accountant, secretary, website designer, head of sales and janitor!
7) Some customers and competitors will bad mouth you in public.
Some will make up lies about you and your service and publish them on review websites.
8) People will let you down.
You will pay outside people to do work for you – web developers, virtual assistants etc – and discover they have not done the work you paid them to do.
9) You will spend money on advertising that does not work.
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don‘t know which half.”
~ John Wanamaker (1838-1922)
10) There will be legal disputes with customers, employees, suppliers.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking this won’t happen to you.
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough.
11) Software and websites will not function as promised!
This happens even after you paid good money and thought you had hired the best.
12) People over promise and under deliver.
Wise entrepreneurs prefer to under promise and over deliver.
13) People waste your time.
e.g. Potential JV partners and Customers
14) Professionals will let you down.
This includes Accountants, Lawyers, Consultants etc
15) You will pay more than once to get a job done.
This has happened to me numerous times, especially when when developing software or websites.
16) Everything takes longer than you budgeted for.
This includes making a profit, launching a new website and raising funding.
17) People will let you down on their promises.
People fail to deliver on their promises and you will feel frustrated that your business is not taking off as you had hoped.
18) Being an Entrepreneur is lonely
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. You will experience rejection.
You will be cash-strapped and your social life will take a hit!
As an Entrepreneur you will be working while all others are out partying.
19) You pay yourself last!
It should not be this way, but unfortunately, for many entrepreneurs this is the case.
But it does not have to be this way…
20) That BIG Order you have been promised will fail to materialize
Or if it does materialize, it cancels.
21) The above things do not happen in isolation.
Many times a number of issues will all happen at the same time.
You will experience failure after failure, after failure.
This is normal.
If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench… If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.
~ Charles Bukowski
15 Ways To Handle Setbacks as An Entrepreneur
Great entrepreneurs know every challenge is an opportunity to learn.
#1 Observe what you tell yourself.
Self-talk is real. Thoughts can be positive and encouraging or they can be dangerous.
Believe in you and your abilities to overcome. Do not entertain a negative thought, even for a second.
“The next time life punches you in the face, stop for a moment and ask yourself this simple question: What’s the counter-punch? No matter how bad the situation, no matter how hopeless it seems, there is always an opportunity to turn it to your advantage. You just have to discipline yourself to spot the opening, and then find the courage to use it.”
– Jon Morrow
Above all, being an entrepreneur means you understand…
The world doesn’t owe you anything.
You must earn everything.
You don’t know how things will turn out.
And this is OK.
In fact, it’s one of the reasons being an entrepreneur is so amazing!
Your life, your decisions, your responsibility!
#2 Take Care Of Your Body
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to take care of your body and health. When you experience a set-back in business, you need all your strength and fitness. With a fit and healthy body you are better prepared for handling challenges.
Unfortunately for me, it took me far too long and two brushes with death to realise that I needed to take better care of my body. In that respect, don’t be like how I was!
You don’t want to be the richest person in the graveyard!
One of the biggest benefits of exercise, apart from improving your fitness is that it increases your creativity and concentration.
That for me is the greatest reward of exercising and my favorite form of exercise is long walks in the woods. The ideas and inspiration, flow and flow!
Recommended read: Fitness Routine for Busy Entrepreneurs
#3 Raise your Adversity Quotient
To succeed as an entrepreneur you need to raise your Adversity Quotient.
An adversity quotient (AQ) is a score that measures the ability of a person to deal with adversities in his or her life.
You have to be able to handle adversity and the suck factor!
If you can’t handle the emotional roller coaster, don’t be an entrepreneur.
Hardy individuals don’t see the world as threatening or see themselves as powerless against large events; on the contrary, they think change is normal, the world is fascinating, they can influence events, and it’s all an opportunity for personal growth.
– Geoff Colvin
#4 Ask for help
A lot of entrepreneurs are loners and find it a challenge to ask for help.
It is almost like they have failed in asking for help!
This is your silly ego speaking (remember what we said earlier about observing what you tell yourself).
A fresh pair of eyes often brings a new perspective and viewpoint. Perhaps it is just a simple tweak you need to make in your sales copy that will make all the difference. Or maybe you need someone to tell you something you already know, but which you have not yet wanted to hear?
Remember that you are not alone in business?, ?there will be other people who have gone through the exact same thing as you and are willing to help. If you are fortunate enough to be part of a Mastermind Group, this will be a good place to start asking for help.
One other tip here – based on personal experience, sometimes the biggest breakthrough from asking for help is to ask someone outside your immediate business circle – in a different industry or even someone not in business at all.
#5 Recognize that failure as a part of life
If you are afraid of failure, don’t be an entrepreneur!
Successful entrepreneurs take ownership of personal mistakes – they don’t blame others.
Blaming solves nothing – look for solutions.
Remember when times are tough:
a) It will not last forever!
b) You will overcome.
c) It will make you stronger
If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle.
– Jeff Bezos
#6 Reduce Stress In Your Life
Stress comes from being overwhelmed by negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, or guilt.
Exercise and mediation will help but there are other practical things you can do.
Practical things such as creating a To-Do list eliminates the worry that you forget to do something.
Not only that, it allows to break down what needs to be done into ‘chunks’ and priorities and create a plan.
As Larry Winget said…
“Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy, or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan.”
Recommended Reading: 17 Practical Ways To Manage Entrepreneurial Stress
#7 What you are going through is not a reflection of your abilities.
Believe in you, don’t worry – don’t beat yourself up.
If a friend experienced a set back what you would you tell them? My bet is you would encourage them and tell them things are not so bad and that they will overcome. You deserve to tell yourself at least the same when bad things happen to you.
Never be a prisoner of your past, it was just a lesson, not a life sentence, life goes on…
#8 Be willing to be uncomfortable.
Successful Entrepreneurs make difficult, uncomfortable choices in the short term in order to have long-term success.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream ~ Peter McWilliams
Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made. ~ Robert H. Schuller
Saying NO makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable – but this is one thing you must master if you plan to be a successful entrepreneur…
You especially need to say NO to energy sapping acquaintances…
Most entrepreneurs, especially in friendships, hate to offend.
But the truth is that true friends understand and respect your position and priorities.
#9 Hire A Business Coach | Join A Mastermind Group
Being an entrepreneur means you are always learning – adding new skills and investing in your skill set. Hire the services of a credible business coach who will help you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.
#10 Learn from Your Mistakes and Failures
As my friend and mentor Craig Ballantyne says…
Forgive yourself the mistakes of the past, learn your lessons, and move on. Guilt, regret, shame and self-loathing do not serve you.
Failure is often a gift.
Many times what we perceive as an error or failure is actually a gift. And eventually we find that lessons learned from that discouraging experience prove to be of great worth.
Often you have to go backwards, to go forward…
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell
You will never be 100% ready and there is no perfect time – Start now get perfect later!
It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.
Sara Blakely – founder of Spanx
#11 Remain Focused At All Times
What you focus on is what you get!
Experiencing problems and set-backs comes with the territory. If you loose focus of your main objective you will not reach it and your business will fail.
Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.
~ Paulo Coelho
Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them. They stay focused on their past successes rather than their past failures, and on the next action steps they need to take to get them closer to the fulfillment of their goals rather than all the other distractions that life presents to them.
~ Jack Canfield
#12 Every Challenge is an Opportunity
Be thankful for each new challenge because it will build your strength and character.
When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They’re sent to promote, increase and strengthen you. ~ Anonymous
The bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunity for growth.
#13 Don’t be Realistic
Successful entrepreneurs are rarely realistic. They don’t accept NO for an answer.
A “realistic” attitude is often a thinly disguised pessimistic attitude.
Every moment is a fresh beginning. – T.S Eliot
Die with memories, not dreams. – Unknown
#14 Meditation helps you to think more clearly and positively.
This is another thing I wish I had discovered the benefits of sooner,
Meditation improves your productivity. If you are completely relaxed and stress-free, then your mind will work more effectively. The right side of our brain, which is responsible for creating new ideas, will work actively when you do meditation regularly.
Meditation, helps you deal with the stuff going on in your heart and your head…
You can eat the kale… Drink the alkaline water…. Take the supplements… Do the yoga… Hit the gym. …but if you don’t deal with the stuff going on in your heart and your head, you’re still just as unhealthy.
~ Daniel Rengering
#15 Make More Sales Calls
Don’t neglect the most obvious strategy…
Make more sales calls!
This applies offline and online.
Have a Sale!
Make an Irresistible Offer.
If want to get cash into your company fast and you sell a physical product go back to all those people who said no – make them a new offer.
Action beats anxiety. Motion beats meditation. Work beats worry
~ Craig Ballantyne
Barry Dunlop is a lifelong Entrepreneur, Sales Turnaround Expert and publisher of the The Sales Turnaround Report. To request your free copy CLICK HERE. You can also connect with Barry on LinkedIn
Helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and make a positive change in the world.