To be perfectly honest and transparent, the list is probably actually a heck of a lot longer than 3, but for the sake of this blog post not turning into a book, let’s keep it to the main 3 that have been on my mind as of late. I like to think I’ve learned a lot on this roller coaster ride called entrepreneurship thus far, and I’ve read a lot on the subject as well. There are many common struggles that we all seem to face, but here are my current 3 that no one seems to be talking about:
- You’re going to feel like crap
Calling all you 9-5ers. Please take a moment to think about your current position. Are you qualified for that position or it’s in your field of study/expertise? Probably. When I first began my entrepreneurial endeavor, I was aware that having your own business meant dealing with all aspects of the brand. What I wasn’t prepared for though, was to feel like crap. Unless you have a degree in marketing, business, accounting, communications, law, software engineering AND management, you aren’t qualified to be an entrepreneur. (If you do have all of those degrees I would REALLY love to meet you, and you better be some kind of superstar start up mastermind.) There is a lot of stepping out of your comfort zone (and areas of expertise) in entrepreneurship, and when you do this repeatedly what does it result in? Ideally, it’ll eventually lead to a) improving and broadening your skill set, but most likely immediately in b) you feeling like crap. Again, I’d like to reference all you 9-5ers. Would your boss ever walk in to your office and be like “I know you’re in marketing, but right now the business really needs to focus on web development, sooo…we’re going to need you to go ahead and do that.” You’d probably pick up your severance package faster than he could get the words out of his mouth. In entrepreneurship, this is a daily struggle, and it’s not easy. You are constantly responsible for doing something you don’t like and are probably not very good at, and that takes it’s toll on the ego.
- You don’t have to be working 24/7
But you do have to be thinking about it 24/7. What do I mean by this? Well, in order to be a successful entrepreneur, I think you have to be at least mildly obsessive. You have to be somewhat compulsive in constantly thinking about how to build something, make something better, improve an industry etc. Usually, the typical characteristic of an entrepreneur is someone who just can’t get the wheels to stop running in their brain, they can’t turn it off, maybe even have trouble winding down and falling asleep. I know that all the above applies to me. What happens when you are thinking about something 24/7 and you’re an entrepreneur? Well, you feel the need and responsibility to be working on it 24/7. I mean, if it’s on your mind all the time you should be constantly working on it as well, right? Wrong. Ever heard of “working smarter, not harder”? This really does ring true, and it’s taken me a few years to realize this. In fact, I found that once I took the pressure off to be working all day, every day simply because my mind was running all day, everyday, I became more efficient and produced better work. Would you look at that? I love this whole “Thrive” movement that Arianna Huffington created because I really do believe the best thing you can do for your business is to take care of yourself. I’ve started doing yoga regularly and carving out time to simply think, and the effects have been nothing short of successful. If you are the type to constantly be thinking up new ideas, that’s great, keep doing that. I advise you to keep your mind creative, but what I don’t advise is to allot all that time to working time. It is crucial to take time to simply think and reflect. Personally, my best ideas come when I’m in yoga, taking a shower, walking the dog (a.k.a doing something completely unrelated to work).
- One is the loneliest number
One of the reasons I chose entrepreneurship is because I loved the concept of creating something out of nothing. I’m completely infatuated with the idea of being able to create something in your mind and follow it through to tangible conception. I created Bowda alone, basically because I had the idea by myself and just ran with it. I went out on a limb, and in the beginning I had chosen sole proprietorship by choice (or lack there of), but when I started thinking about the direction I wanted to take Bowda in, I soon realized two heads are much, much better than one. I work best when I have someone else to bounce ideas off of, inspire and motivate me. I’ve been open, even eager, to partner since the get go. And what has happened? I daresay it’s harder to find a partner than finding “the one”, because at least you can be blinded by love in your search for your soul mate. In business, you never, ever settle for less. I’ve had one close call, where I’ve been burned, but otherwise I haven’t found anyone else even close to having the drive and level of commitment I do. At this point I think I’m more likely to land a unicorn. I constantly attend start up and entrepreneurship events, surround myself with passionate people, yet this seems to be a reoccurring issue for me, and I doubt I’m the only one. When I first started entertaining the idea of entrepreneurship, I did my research like a good girl, yet I never, ever imagined that my single largest obstacle would be to find a partner. There are a lot of articles out there telling you what to look for in a potential partner, but none outline how difficult it is to actually encounter one.
So, to sum up, we’ve got 1) failure, 2) running yourself ragged, and 3) the importance of a team. Maybe this really is just like every single other entrepreneurial article out there.
In all seriousness, these are 3 things I’ve really been struggling with lately, both professionally and personally. If you’ve encountered any of these as well, I’d love to hear from you! And if you haven’t, I’ll gladly listen to your entrepreneurial issues. Hey, that’s what the start up circle is for!
I open the floor to you, my fellow founders: what have been your recent struggles with entrepreneurship?