Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. If you decide to start an entrepreneurial journey, you aren’t guaranteed anything, but then again, nothing worthwhile comes without some degree of risk and hard work.
I like what Theodore Roosevelt had to say on the subject:
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” — Theodore Roosevelt
So, along with avoiding common beginner mistakes, you need to fully understand that it’s not all sunshine and happy days when you walk down this path. Here are five ugly truths about entrepreneurship that you need to be aware of before you start.
1. You are more likely to fail than succeed.
I’m not saying this to take the wind out of your sails right away — I’m just being realistic. The Small Business Administration has stated that only half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or longer. The success rate is even lower for venture-backed startups, with three out of four failing to return investors’ money.
While failure is more probable than success, that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dreams. There are very few entrepreneurs that hit a home run the first time they step up to the plate. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs out there failed multiple times before they experienced what appeared to have been overnight success.
2. You can lose everything.
There is always going to be a financial risk when you start a new business. While there are ways to start with very little capital, you will eventually need to take on lines of credit for inventory and operations or a small business loan to assist with growth. Bootstrapping is great, but the majority of new businesses that are trying to get to market quickly are taking on debt to do so.
A young entrepreneur fresh out of school will have a much different financial risk than an entrepreneur in his or her mid-30s, with a family to support and a pile of financial obligations.
Go big or go home, right?
3. You will experience extreme stress.
When you start a business, all the weight that comes with the territory is on your shoulders. There is nobody to pass the buck to — it’s your responsibility to address problems and find a remedy. You have to come up with answers to the many questions that will face you.
Will your path be stressful? Sure, but there is also nothing more satisfying than watching your vision play out and come to life. Stress is inevitable, so find ways that help you clear your mind of it — for me, personally, the gym has become that outlet.
4. You will lose touch with some family and friends in the beginning.
Being an entrepreneur is very demanding on your personal time. In fact, you won’t have much of it, if any, in the beginning. There are going to be people in your life who fade away because you aren’t able to give them the time and attention you were once able to.
Someone told me this a long time ago and I didn’t believe it. I assumed that those people I lost touch with simply didn’t put out a strong enough effort. But once I experienced this loss firsthand, I understood the situation better: I was putting so much effort into building my company in its early stages that I simply lost touch with people. I didn’t do it on purpose, but after some time I learned how to better manage my time and managed to reconnect.
5. You will have regrets at some point.
It’s perfectly natural to have regrets at some point. You will see your friends disconnecting from “work mode” at 5 pm on Fridays and going out to grab drinks, while you work late into the evening. There will be events and outings on the weekend that you have to pass on because your business commands your time.
There will be times that you think a 9-to-5 job is appealing, but guess what? Some of your friends will be experiencing regret as well, for not chasing their dreams. There will be times that they wished they had your freedom and flexibility. Remember, the grass isn’t always green on the other side.
With all that being said, there isn’t a greater feeling than experiencing a win. Understand the risks, challenges and odds — and chase your dreams.
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