It’s fun to think about being an entrepreneur, but taking the step from idea to business implementation isn’t always an entertaining romp. It can be hard — grueling, even. It can be full of pain, tears, mistakes and uncomfortable lessons. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it — just that you need to know what you’re in for before you get started. Here are 7 truths every entrepreneur should know before taking the leap into self-employment and product development.
1. You’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them.
It doesn’t matter how well-thought-out your business and marketing plans are, how much experience you have, or how many college degrees you’ve acquired — you’re destined to make some mistakes as an entrepreneur. Getting mad at yourself, resentful or trying to play the blame game are bad ideas. Instead, understand that mistakes are normal and they’re also great opportunities to learn something new. Stay humble and open and your mistakes might turn out to be some of the best on-the-job training you get.
2. Some days, the only thing keeping your business open will be your persistence.
Many entrepreneurs expect to hang their “open” sign, publish their website, and then become inundated with business. Sometimes this happens, but more often business ebbs and flows leaving some months busy and other months completely free of work. On those days when you’ve got no work, your ads are being ignored, and your follow-up calls are going unanswered, your persistence will be the one thing that keeps you moving forward.
3. No one is going to catch you when you fall.
As an entrepreneur who owns a business, the buck starts and stops with you. There is no safety net or person waiting to catch you when you fall. The mistakes you make and the failures you endure are things that you must correct, sort out and make up for. It’s all on your shoulders. To be prepared for this, make sure you have plenty of cash cushion and emergency plans.
4. It’s more about what your clients/customers want than what you want.
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses because they want to be their own bosses. Some of them don’t realize that, unless you don’t rely on customers or clients for business, you are probably still going to have someone to answer to. Often, this means you have to make decisions for yourself and your business that will be appreciated by your customers, not ones that will only be appreciated by you.
5. You won’t make your own hours — at least at first.
Eventually, most entrepreneurs are able to work a schedule that they’ve chosen. But at least in the beginning, you may be scrambling for work and this could leave your schedule at the mercy of your business, clients, and employees. If it helps your business succeed, however, this sacrifice is more than worth it.
6. Passion doesn’t always create profit.
Not every idea is a good one. Not every business will or should make it. Sometimes, an entrepreneur is totally passionate about his or her work or product — but the rest of the world just doesn’t see the value of it. That doesn’t make the entrepreneur wrong or a failure, it simply means either that they haven’t communicated their idea effectively or that the world simply isn’t ready for it. At some point, though, you have to decide whether to keep bleeding your passion through this idea or to funnel it into something else.
7. Get advice from the successes and the failures.
Successful business people make great mentors. They can help you mold your business into something that resonates with your target client or customer. They can help you navigate obstacles that trip up other entrepreneurs and can inspire you to keep going even in the face of adversity. But successful entrepreneurs aren’t the only people you can learn something from. You can also learn important lessons from the failures. Often, the failures understand what they did wrong and are willing to share that information to help you avoid it. Sometimes, they don’t know what they did wrong but by hanging out with them and tapping their brain, you might be able to figure it out yourself. This will give you tremendous insight regarding the kinds of actions and behaviors you should work to avoid.