Becoming an entrepreneur is a scary occupation and it’s not meant for everyone. Here at Foundr we’ve told you the multitude of reasons as to why you should start your business. We’ve charted the wildly successful stories, and those who didn’t quite make it just yet. We’ve provided tools and guides to ensure that you have the best possible chance to achieving the success you want as an entrepreneur.
But today we’re asking: Are you ready to become an entrepreneur?
The truth is there are hundreds of thousands of people out there calling themselves entrepreneurs, but all they have is a big idea that they talk about but do nothing with.
Between the success stories and the failures, the one thing that’s been constant throughout every entrepreneurial experience is this: the road is tough and difficult. Being an entrepreneur requires a mental toughness that regular people don’t have.
“Starting up a new company requires an incredible level of commitment and determination over a very long period of time. You pretty much have to clear your calendar for the next 10 years, and be focused on just one thing – your business.” – Aaron Levie, founder and chief executive of Box.
If any of this seems too daunting to you then take a step back and re-evaluate, because we’re going to be asking the tough questions. Are you ready?
Are you ready to stop wasting time?
Simply put: procrastination kills your business.
There are many reasons as to why people procrastinate, they put off their big plan and come up with a variety of reasons as to why they never start. While waiting for the right time and opportunity in the market is only sound business practice, entrepreneurs know that conditions will never be completely perfect and take action.
It’s no secret that in the world of startups you’re likely to be working long hours and sacrificing sleep for your business.
“You may as well reset your body clock. The reality is you can’t have a nine-to-five attitude when your income is entirely in your own hands.” – Doug Richard, former dragon on BBC’s Dragon’s Den and founder of School for Startups.
Many young entrepreneurs try to circumnavigate the problem of time wasting by cutting back on their sleep in an attempt to get more hours into their day. While this strategy might be effective for college students, this isn’t something you want to employ in the long term.
The severe detrimental effects sleep deprivation has upon the body have been well-documented.
In reality, the question isn’t really about to work longer or harder, it’s about learning how to work smarter and making the most out of the time you have.
Scheduling is your best friend, but it won’t do much for you unless you have the rigorous self-discipline to follow through. You’ll often find yourself wanting to work more and just inviting yourself to get burned out with all it’s undesirable side effects, the real struggle is telling yourself when to have a break and take time off work.
Entrepreneurship isn’t just a job. It’s a lifestyle.
You’ll soon find yourself dedicating every waking moment you have to your business. Your time and effort will be your most valuable commodity; it’s up to you to decide how you spend it.
Are you ready for awkward conversations?
The side of entrepreneurship that no one ever seems to talk about is just how awkward your personal and professional life is about to become.
Your life will be consumed by your business, when you’re not working on it, it’ll probably be all that you can think about. It’ll be surprising for many to see how much their life changes to revolve around their business, and how much it doesn’t affect anyone but themselves.
“The company’s successes are my successes, but the company’s failures are my failures too, and I hurt physically when things go wrong.” – Kathryn Minshew, founder and chief executive of The Muse.
Unless you have the most supportive social network in the world, most people in your personal life just won’t get it. They won’t understand why you left your stable job to pursue a dream, they won’t understand why you voluntarily put yourself through so much stress and pain and they definitely won’t understand why you can never stop talking about it. The old adage remains true only entrepreneurs will understand other entrepreneurs.
You will, more than likely, miss birthdays, family gatherings and other important social events because of work.
“I never know where I need to be next week, that’s exciting, but it takes its toll on relationships with friends and family. However you prioritize, you’re letting someone down.” – Carl Waldekranz, chief executive of Tictail.
Also be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone for the conversations only a business owner has to have, whether it’s talking about clients, employees or potential investors. I’ve heard many entrepreneurs wax poetic about the stability of working a regular job without the stress of constantly having to pitch, bargain, negotiate, or persuade.
It’s no wonder that more and more entrepreneurs are taking performing arts courses in order to develop their public speaking and social skills.
But being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to only be passionate about your work and nothing else. If anything it’ll sharply pull into focus who and what’s truly important in your life.
For the first time in your life you can choose to surround yourself with like-minded people who share your passion and vision. You no longer have to blame someone else for holding you’re the one that sets the pace.
While it’ll be tempting to lose yourself into your work, and just assume that friends and family will always be there to support you. Do take some time off for them, these are the important people in your life. In fact you’ll probably find your productivity rising when your force yourself to take time off.
Again I cannot stress enough the importance of learning how to schedule your time properly. Work time is for work, if someone wants to talk to you about the business then schedule a time for it. Learn to power down.
Meditation is a great way of relieving stress and dealing with the nature of your now hectic lifestyle. Doing so a few minutes a day as part of a morning routine will surely get you back into the right headspace.
Spending a couple hours a day with your friends and family will do wonders for your health and your work. Remember, you’re your own boss now. You can choose what hours to work and what to do, don’t forget to allocate some time with the people who keep you grounded.
Are you ready to work in a team?
Did you know that everything is awesome when you’re a part of a team?
You can thank me for not being able to get that out of your head for the rest of the day.
Entrepreneurial lessons about the Lego movie aside, a great lesson is that working together is better than working alone.
There’s a startup philosophy that is practically revered by entrepreneurs around the world. It’s known as “Minimum Viable Product”. A philosophy that decrees that a product, no matter how bare bones, is shipped early and updated often.
This mantra is to ensure that young startups are kept as lean as possible in order to achieve maximum success.
While this is a great strategy, some misinterpret the meaning of it. In their enthusiasm to cut off any unnecessary weight inexperienced entrepreneurs fool themselves into believing they can do it all on their own.
Now we’ve heard of many stories of entrepreneurs making it big by themselves. But what we don’t hear about are the unsung heroes in the background. The mentors, the collaborative partners and the loyal and supportive team members.
While there is a saying of: behind every great man there is a great woman. In the world of business: behind every great leader is a great team. So do yourself a favour, and find yourself a great team.
“Surround yourself with a great team, and build that team slowly.” – Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotel & Resorts.
Let’s face it, partnerships can go sour and you could potentially find the rug pulled out from underneath you. But don’t let the fear of that convince you that you’re better off running everything by yourself, because the short answer is, you’re not. Simply put, unless you’re an absolute savant when it comes to business, there is absolutely no way for you to know everything and handle every problem out there.
As we’ve mentioned before the value of having a great team is to have people you can trust challenge you and push you further.
Whilst delegating tasks out to other people might seem like an invitation to have your vision spiral out of your control. It’s really all about turning yourself into a leader and finding the right balance so you can have the best of both worlds. Even Richard Branson agrees. Delegating the tasks to people more suited to tackle it than you are does nothing but free up your time and allow you to focus on the bigger picture.
Co-founders are more likely to get funded than sole founders, and have a much higher chance of succeeding than those going at it solo. Even Han Solo needed Chewbacca.
Even though finding a like-minded collaborator can be difficult, think of it as a worth-while investment into your future. Finding the right team you can trust and rely upon can only work wonders for you and your business.
“Everyone tells you it’s lonely as an entrepreneur – it’s a bit of an understatement. Many times the only person you can turn to for inspiration or comfort is the person staring back at you [often blankly] in the mirror. Carry your ego with you and it’s a pretty lonesome journey. Ditch it, and you invite [from the right people, of course] support, company and experiences that make the journey much more worthwhile.” – Shazia Saleem, founder of leat Foods.
Are you ready to fail?
The fear of failure is very real to everyone, ever more so to entrepreneurs. Failure can be seen as the complete opposite of success, a resounding and final reminder that seems to scream: “you’re just not good enough”.
Failing is absolutely inevitable when it comes to being an entrepreneur. The common rule of thumb is that of ten start-ups, three or four will completely fail, three or four return the original investment, and only one or two will provide substantial returns.
A senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, Shkhar Ghosh, estimates that if start-up failure is defined as not delivering the projected return of investment, then 95% of start-ups are failures.
Statistics show that barely half are still operational after the first five years, with 71% liquidating their assets after ten years.
Courtesy of Statistic Brain Research Institute
I’m not trying to scare you here, but this is the reality. Chances are, despite having a great idea, or team, or product, your business is more likely to fail than succeed.
But did you know that failing in considered a badge of honour in the entrepreneur world? That it’s considered a much-needed requirement for success?
Unfortunately there are countless stories of entrepreneurs failing in one way or another.
Fortunately, there are also countless stories of entrepreneurs bouncing back from their failure to find success.
Foundr’s own creator Nathan Chan has talked about his own fear of failure and how he eventually overcame it to build one of Australia’s leading online publications. The very same one you’re reading from right now.
Kathryn Minshew, founder of The Muse, lost her entire life savings on a project because of a disagreement between herself and her partners before starting over again and founding The Muse.
Drew Houston, co-founder of online file-sharing service Dropbox, lost three years worth of hard work and his own savings on a failed endeavour before creating Dropbox.
What do each and every one of these entrepreneurs all have in common? They didn’t see failure as the death knell of their life. Failure isn’t the end of the road, but a mere signpost on the road to success.
“My mother used to call failure as a stepping-stone to success, as opposed to the opposite of success. When you frame failure that way, it changes dramatically what you’re willing to do, how you’re willing to invent, and the risks you take,” – Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of HuffingtonPost, on being rejected from 36 publishers before founding HuffingtonPost.
Here’s a great interview with entrepreneur Muki Regunathan who failed seven times before fulfilling his success story with Pepper Square.
So, are you ready to take action?
There are a multitude of reasons as to why people never take the plunge. But the successful entrepreneurs are the ones with the courage to take action.
It’s no secret that there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who call themselves entrepreneurs but have done nothing. Talking about a great idea, and doing something about it are two very different things.
“The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” – Ray Kroc
Being an entrepreneur has many risks, but it’s a crazy business that rewards those who are persistent, creative and courageous enough to set aside their fear and past disappointments and failures and work for their dream.
And you know what? Not a single entrepreneur would trade their life for the world.
Hopefully I haven’t discouraged you from the wonderful world of entrepreneurship, but instead made you realise how courageous you really are to work for your dream.