Despite what the media portrays, being an entrepreneur isn’t all glitz and glam. Actually, very little of it is. For every one grand scheme that takes off and flourishes, there are another dozen that will never see the light of day. It’s no secret that 50 percent of new businesses will fail within their first year. With those types of odds, it’s hard to believe that so many individuals do take the plunge. Despite the risk, more and more people each year are striking out on their own. In fact, by 2020, it’s expected that 50 percent of all workers will be self-employed.
If you’re deciding whether or not to quit your day job and go for it, or start a little something on the side, here are a few things you should know about being an entrepreneur.
You’ll have less money, regardless of whether you quit your day job.
Unless you’re literally that one percent that is blessed with venture capital funding, money is going to be tight, like pressure cooker tight. Despite what you read on TechCrunch, 80 percent of startups are self-funded. That means the majority of entrepreneurs are dipping into their savings or are bootstrapping their business. Some, about 24 percent, will raise money from friends and family and far less (just 3 percent) will go the crowdfunding route.
Chances are, you’ll fall into that 80 percent bucket, so prepare to forgo those luxuries that you might have become accustomed to. Though you might be starting a business to make money, setting up that business and getting it started will cost you. If you’re not willing to cough up the cash, you better find yourself some funding. The good news, however, is that there are ways to do it, even if your personal credit is poor.
Your family and friends won’t understand what you are doing.
Some people just don’t understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Sure, you’ll see some people get dreamy-eyed over hearing that you’ve set out on your own and will romanticize the heck out of it, but others just won’t get it. They either won’t understand the product you are trying to create, the service you are trying to deliver or they won’t understand why you’ve decided to trade in a steady job (or add to your already-existing gig) for less money. You can either attempt to do the explaining, or you can leave it for what it is. When the fruits of your labor present themselves, they’ll understand then, and if not, that’s fine, too. As long as you are content with where you are in the moment, that is all that matters. A lot of being an entrepreneur is being OK with where you are. Though you’ll have days with big wins, there are going to be many more where you feel like nothing is accomplished. Just remember that Facebook wasn’t built in a day, and Thomas Edison built a ton of light bulbs before any lit up.
You’ll probably fail, more than once.
I gave you the raw truth up top — that half of all small businesses won’t reach their first birthday. Being an entrepreneur often reeks of failure. Failing not just once, or twice, but many times over isn’t unusual. It’s not fun and it’s definitely not glamorous. But failure breeds stamina and a ton of grit. It also teaches you great problem solving skills — you learn what went well, what went wrong and how to make your next move.
With failure also comes rejection, but they aren’t always tied to one another. Remember that just because one person doesn’t like your idea, think your concept is unique or enjoy the taste of your product, it doesn’t mean that the whole world will share the same opinion. The number of times a person is rejected often has no bearing on the quality of their work or their ultimate potential. Did you know that James Dyson made over 5,000 vacuum prototypes before hitting gold?
Your social life and health might take a hit.
Say goodbye to friends and loved ones and hello to 20 extra pounds. Depending on what business or venture you are launching and who you are launching it with, you’re not going to have as much time to devote to the people you care about and outside activities you love. That’s why being dedicated to a schedule and loving what you do is so vital to both the success of your business and your physical and mental health.
If you’re used to socializing and taking long hikes on the weekends, you can still do that (most of the time), you just need to be disciplined with how you do it. That means waking up early to get that hike in and saying goodbye to your friends a few hours earlier than usual. Being an entrepreneur means you not only have the liberty of being your own boss, but the responsibility and burden of that as well.
Starting a business is never easy. It will be one the most difficult, yet rewarding, things you’ll ever do. However, if you’ve read the above “warnings” about being an entrepreneur, and aren’t fazed by the demands and commitments, then you probably have entrepreneurialism flowing through your blood. Congrats and welcome to the club! Whether your first venture takes off and you never look back, or it takes you a few tries before an idea sticks, you’ll see that the lessons you learn will be lifelong and the potential you unlock in yourself is limitless.