I’ve found that people who want to start a business often don’t have the first idea about what that really entails. Once they do launch a company, they’re often surprised at how real and often stressful it is to be an entrepreneur.
Here are a few of the things I’d say might surprise you. Heads up!
- A Really Great Employee Won’t Last Forever
It’s one thing when a subpar employee quits, but what about when the one you’ve come to rely on the most puts in her notice? There’s nothing more heartbreaking. It’s easy to take it personally; after all, why is she leaving? You thought you’d bonded, and now she tells you she’s taking a better-paying job somewhere else.
It’s important to get into the mindset that no employee, good or bad, will stick around forever. Each has her own professional and personal goals, and you can’t stand in the way of that. Just shake it off and always know you next hire for each key position.
- Isolation is Real
I know running a business sounds fun to you, but in reality, it’s often very lonely. At first, you may not know other business owners to talk to about your problems and questions. You’ll start to notice friends who still work in corporate understand you a lot less. If you work at home, there’s no one to gossip with. Especially when things are tough, isolation can be daunting. Join a networking group or business association to get yourself a new circle of friends.
- It’s Not Personal; It’s Just Business
I know a lot of entrepreneurs who, early on, would take everything personally. A new client left them. They’d decide it was because they sucked. They got beat out by a competitor for a new contract, and decided anyone from the competitor was an arch enemy.
But the truth is, none of this is personal. It’s just business. Try to take the emotion out of business issues. You can never blame someone or client for doing what’s in their own best interest. It takes a tough skin to be in business, but it gets easier over time.
- You’ll Say Yes to Some Things You Don’t Want to Do
Especially early on in business, it’s sometimes necessary to take on work that maybe isn’t your ideal, or that pays less than you want to accept. Just do it. It’s not forever. You have to get your foothold in your industry, and sometimes that means saying yes when you don’t want to. But that’s okay because…you won’t be a new business for forever.
- Saying No is Exceptionally Freeing
Once you pass the point of having to say yes, you get the freedom of saying no. As soon as you can turn down business that doesn’t fit your niche. And you’ll find that the more you focus on your area of expertise, the more of that kind of business you will attract. And you’ll be able to charge more as a specialist.
- It’s Sometimes a Struggle to Pay Yourself
We hear the advice “pay yourself first” in business, and while in theory that’s a great tip, it’s not always possible. When you have employees and vendors to pay, your own paycheck sometimes gets pushed to the back of the line. It’s never fun, but hopefully it’s a temporary problem. After a few years if it keeps happening you might need to reconsider your business model or pricing structure.
- There’s no such thing as 40 Hour Work Week
If you envisioned running your own business so that you could spend more time with your family, I’m here to tell you: that probably ain’t going to happen. Most business owners put in 60-70 hours a week in the early years. Sometimes after you’ve established your business it gets a little easier, but you really have to prioritize building a team around you, so that you can take time off.
- You Have to Pay Attention to Everything
Accounting, marketing, writing…even if you outsource some of these tasks, you still need to be well-versed in them so you know what to tell others to do for you (and can ensure they’re doing a good job). While you don’t need an MBA to run a business, having general business knowledge will take you further.
- The Stress REALLY Can Get You
Running a business will show you what you’re made of. It will exhaust you, frustrate you, and make you want to give up. But you must to find ways to stay calm under pressure. Pray to start your day, so you can level set. Schedule a walk to clear your head. Work out at a gym to burn off stress, sometimes it helps just to go the gym to get out of your office. You can start running, doing yoga and meditation and deep breathing really does help too.
- Nothing Else Will Fulfill You More
If you have kids, you know that while they can sometimes sap your energy like nobody’s business, they also fill your heart in a way nothing else can. Your business is the same. All the blood, sweat, and tears are worth it when you look around and realized you created a thriving business.
If you’re considering starting a business, go into it aware that it’s not glamorous. You will be put to the task of giving your business everything you have, and you are in no way guaranteed success. Instead, you keep plugging away, hoping to break even. If you can handle anything your business with throw at you, and you’ll learn to duck.