Entrepreneurship has been so romanticised that many people assume it’s the easiest or the only way to financial independence and freedom
Entrepreneurship is on trend; everyone will tell you how starting a business is the way to wealth. More than ever, school leavers are starting businesses and more people are ditching their 9 to 5 jobs for the start-up life. It seems like everyone is either an entrepreneur or aspiring to be one
Entrepreneurship has been so romanticised that many people assume it’s the easiest or the only way to financial independence and freedom. But being your own boss isn’t all sunshine and rainbows as many wannabe entrepreneurs soon find out. What are some things that entrepreneurs would tell you if you sat down with them long enough?
1. It’s not the path to quick money
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Many wanna-preneurs (who want to become entrepreneurs) are seduced by the idea of making huge amounts of money in a short time. This is the idea that is often sold by “rags to riches” stories in the media. But the truth is that starting a business will probably put you in a worse financial situation than if you’re employed, at least in the beginning. You will have stock up on products, pay off loans, pay for an office, pay employees, spend on marketing and absorb business losses and many other expenses you probably didn’t plan for. If you quit your job, you will no longer have an assured income at the end of the month.
Before your business breaks even and starts making good money, be prepared to go for a while without paying yourself as you’ll have to reinvest to help the business grow. That is why it’s important to have saved at least six month’s worth (or ideally a year) of wages before quitting your job to start a business. Studies have found that on average, it takes 7 to 10 years for a start-up to become successful. As a popular adage says, overnight success takes about 10 years.
2. Your relationships will take a hit
Starting a business is a juggling act that will see you spending more time away from your family and friends. In spite of your best intentions, you will find yourself skipping, postponing, and cancelling on friends and family to meet the demands of your start-up.
Entrepreneurship is also a lonely road as you will probably feel like most of those around you don’t understand what you’re going through as a budding entrepreneur. And if you make friends with other entrepreneurs, they’ll probably also be too busy or occupied with their own struggles to hang out with you. Becoming your own boss can therefore take a toll on your personal relationships. It’s imperative that you learn how to manage your time and prioritize your goals. However, the truth is that nothing can prepare you enough for how demanding a start-up can be.
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3. Rejection is the name of the game
You’re excited about your business idea and you’re convinced that it’s what everyone has been waiting for. However, the reality on the ground is that most people won’t buy into your idea until it starts making money. If you’ve watched the TV show Shark Tank, you’ve seen how some entrepreneurs go on to make millions after their ideas are trashed as worthless by the millionaire investor “sharks”. You will have to develop a thick, tough skin because you’ll hear “NO” over and over. But to become successful, you have to keep going. Sometimes rejection can be an indication that you need to change something about the business or your approach. Learn the lesson and grow.
4. Ideas are nothing, selling is everything
As the Bible says, there’s nothing new under the sun. Don’t be surprised to find that no one seemed enamoured by your “revolutionary idea”. While an idea is a great place to start, the real test is turning your idea into reality. In business, what matters more is your ability to sell. This encompasses selling your idea, vision, services, product, and yourself. However, you don’t have to pour lots of money into marketing in an effort to sell more. When you’re starting out, you need to invest more funds into perfecting your product and services. Utilise free or low-cost marketing such as social media, influencer marketing, or media interviews.
5. You’ll work more, not less
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Do you find your 9 to 5 job exhausting? Then entrepreneurship isn’t the answer you’re looking for. When you start a business, a lot of the responsibility will fall squarely on your shoulders. You will be the CEO, the janitor, the accountant, receptionist, messenger and so on. While you might not have to work 9 to 5 anymore, you will probably find yourself working 24/7 or something close to it. You will work well into the night, have early mornings, sneak from family time to answer work emails and calls, spend weekends preparing for the week ahead, and have no time for vacations.
You will work more hours than you ever did while employed -- but that’s OK because it will all eventually pay off. However, remember to make time for yourself and your family. You shouldn’t fall into depression or otherwise harm your health and well-being because of overworking. Instead of doing it all, you can outsource certain tasks to people who are really good at them. In the long run, this can cost you less and allow you to focus on what you’re really good at or love to do- which is why you chose to become an entrepreneur in the first place.