Being an entrepreneur has numerous rewards – freedom to be your own boss, to make your own schedule and the ability to create your own future are just a few of the top benefits. But, there are downsides. Let’s look at 5 of the hidden truths of entrepreneurship.
1. Most entrepreneurs have no idea what the f*ck they are doing!
Whether they run events for thousands of people or make a ton of money each year, many entrepreneurs still feel lost in at least one aspect of their business and may literally be making it up as they go. Most entrepreneurs possess skills that help them be successful but that doesn’t stop them from struggling with tasks such as deciding what steps to take next, operational issues and other daily work. What each of these entrepreneurs do possess however is resilience and creativity. Being able to make decisions on the run and bounce back when something goes wrong are key strengths for many entrepreneurs.
2. A large number of seemingly with it entrepreneurs are struggling.
Outwardly everything looks ok but inwardly that founder you just talked to is having trouble with payroll, is in desperate needs of capital or has run into some issue with their idea that they are struggling to solve. Get used to the idea that everyone is struggling and BE KIND. As above, be aware that many Entrepreneurship have no idea what the f*ck they are doing or how to do it. The “fake it til you make it” mantra is big here. If you can assist another entrepreneur with a problem, please do – chances are you will need their assistance or advice in the future.
3. Your business does not have to be a high tech, high growth business – but most programs think you should be.
Money is sexy and in many accelerator programs, venture funds, incubators and more all they want to see are high growth/high income potential style businesses. If you are looking to build a lifestyle business, social impact business or plan to stay with you business (instead of already planning an exit) you may struggle to find the support you need in typical entrepreneurial groups. Don’t be discouraged by this North American trend and instead look for supportive communities like Centre for Social Innovation or your local business community. Finding your tribe of similarly minded people is one of the best ways to find programs related to your mission.
4. Finding partners is easy.
F*ck no. Finding a co-founder is tough. Finding the right co-founder is even harder. You need someone who can complement your skill set, who is not afraid to give opinions and share ideas, and someone who is willing to work for sweat equity prior to receiving a pay cheque or equity. Even when you find a co-founder, it is not uncommon to hear of one co-founder taking an idea and cutting another out of it. Take Facebook for example. If you live outside a large urban area your mission can be even tougher. To help find a co-founder, attend industry events, hang out in startup communities and join online communities like Angel List and Crunchbase. Do you research on partnership formation, vesting and ensure you set up legal structures between co-founders early on in the process to protect your interests. It is also recommended to set a list of expectations and responsibilities for each new team member.
5. The risk is huge!
Money is just one of many risks you face as an entrepreneur. Aside from financial concerns, entrepreneurship can take a toll on your relationships, your mindset and your mental health. You will struggle with many challenges and may feel quite alone. Most entrepreneurs hide their true feelings out of fear of looking weak to their investors, co-founders and customers. The truth is we all struggle and sharing our struggles would benefit all of us. This award winning article from Jessica Bruder at Inc.com is an excellent look at the “Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship.” As my personal family motto says, “Virscit Vulnere Virtus – Courage Grows Strong At the Wound”. The struggles and challenges we face as entrepreneurs make us stronger. Know that showing vulnerability and asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Overall, the benefits of the entrepreneurial journey far outweigh the risks. YOU get to control the outcome as you will be the one making decisions along the way. Is that cubicle or food service job looking less stressful now? Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur and some people are better suited to use the entrepreneurial mindset to create change within existing companies as an intrapreneur – less risk and a steady pay cheque. For those of us who take up the challenge – keep going and don’t be afraid to fail.
The author, Rebecca Palmer, is a serial entrepreneur and mom of 4 on a mission to give everyone access to the tools they need to launch a business. She has traveled the world listening to stories from other entrepreneurs and working to build a strong, supportive community. Find out more about her entrepreneurial journey here.