The best parallel to being an entrepreneur is like being a parent. You can talk, read and research all you want about it ahead of time, but NOTHING can prepare you for it besides doing it. Books, articles and blogs do a nice job of highlighting the less than 1% of success stories out there, but the reality is owning a business is like raising a child. Each child is different, so just because a particular method worked for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you. I’m not trying to discourage you from starting your own business. In fact, I believe our future economy will force everyone to function as entrepreneurs at some point in their lifetime. If your dream is to open your own business, know ahead of time making that dream a sustaining reality is hard work.
Ever since I was in high school I wanted to have my own business. Maybe it came from seeing my parents as business owners or it could have been my bent toward leading.
Since I made the leap in 2007 (without any prior experience) it’s been challenging, but I’ve learned so much over the past 6 years.
I couldn’t share everything in a single post, so instead here are the 3 things that stand out:
It’s much harder than I thought. There’s truth behind the fact that most businesses fail. If you think owning a business is going to be easier and immediately more profitable than working for someone else, you’re wrong. You don’t work 9 to 5 anymore, you work beyond that. There’s no guaranteed paycheck arriving each month. If you don’t have customers, you don’t earn income. With infinite freedom comes a need to buckle down and become extremely disciplined and structured.
Sales and marketing are necessary skills. It would be nice to delegate sales and marketing out, but without a budget it falls on you. Regardless if you have a product or service based company, selling determines whether you have a business or a glorified “hobby.” You may not be a natural salesperson at heart, but you’ll have to quickly figure out how to become one if you want to survive. If I could go back to college, I would have majored in business just because of this reason alone.
You are a jack of all trades. If you start with the appropriate funds you may have the luxury of not doing everything, but at the very least you’ll have to know about every aspect of your business. It’s important to be a specialist at what you do, but in terms of running a business you have to be a pretty stellar generalist also. Think of every department most companies have, now as a business owner you’re the head of every one! This is beyond multitasking, it’s learning how to run a company while on the job.