Many people become entrepreneurs because they want to take charge of their financial future and enjoy the freedom entrepreneurship can provide. While the allure of entrepreneurship is strong, there are some realities you should be aware of before you decide to take the leap.
I hate to say it, but entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. If you're not prepared, you could end up turning your dream into a nightmare. Here are seven lessons I’ve learned over the last 15 years of being an entrepreneur that no one told me about before I took the leap.
1. It’s lonely at times
Loneliness is an occupational hazard for entrepreneurs.
Until you grow your business to the point of bringing on other people, it’s going to be a one-person show. This means extended periods of time alone, and that can get to you. Even us introverts need a little human interaction every now and then.
You need to get out from time to time. It can be a coffee shop or co-working space, but go where people gather. That contact with others might seem distracting, but it will actually help you mentally. The energy of others can help stir creativity in you.
2. You’ll need unwavering focus
When you don’t have a boss or company tracking your progress, it’s easy to lose focus. Your freedom to do whatever you decide with your time will backfire if you don’t stick to a schedule and plan. Today, things like social media notifications can lead you down time-wasting rabbit holes.
Create clear goals and benchmarks in your business. Don’t give in to activities that will distract you. Your time and energy needs be spent on strategies that grow your business. That's where your focus should be.
3. The income can be sporadic
Entrepreneurship provides the opportunity to earn significant income, but that income can be inconsistent. You quickly learn the value of an emergency fund. It takes time to build a steady customer base. Until then, be prepared for the highs and lows.
Use your funds wisely. There are a lot of places that seem like they would be a good investment, but aren't. Testing with a small amount is the key to see what really works in your business. Just because someone else had success with a strategy, doesn't mean it will work for your business.
4. You have to steer clear of time-wasting activities
We live in the information age, which has brought on information overload for many entrepreneurs. We see something that works, and we want to try it for our business. To make progress in your business, you have to focus your time on what will help your business where you are. As you grow, learn and then implement. Continuing to learn without taking action will hurt your business.
Related: 4 Strategies to Sharpen Your Focus
5. You can’t do it all alone
Running a business involves many moving parts. As you start out, you can manage them on your own. Eventually, there’s so much to manage that you can't focus on things that will help your business grow. Today virtual assistants and freelancers can take on some of the load so you can focus on growing your business. Trying to be the “jack-of-all-trades” only hurts your business in the long run.
6. You have to test what works for yourself
Everyday we read blogs, listen to podcasts and watch videos that offer strategies to help our business. We see the success of some great entrepreneurs and we’re tempted to copy them. Smart entrepreneurs have figured out that copying isn’t enough. If you see something that works, testing is the only way to ensure it will work for your business. Testing gives you valuable feedback from customers, which helps you in creating products and services that generate income.
7. Never get complacent
Entrepreneurship can be the gateway to an amazing lifestyle. You can achieve freedom in your life and finances, and build a business that you pass down to your children. When achieve success, it’s easy to coast and stay complacent in your progress. Your goal should be to grow, and to set new goals and new levels of success.
Push beyond what you think is possible in your business. The "sky's the limit" is a cliché, but if you consistently set higher and higher goals, you can make it your reality.
Before you jump into the entrepreneurship journey, be sure you can handle these seven issues. If you’re reading this, I’m confident you can. If you’re already an entrepreneur, use these tips to help your business continue to grow.