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What are the realities of being an entrepreneur?

For some inexplicable reason over the past 10 years, being an entrepreneur became sexy. The concept of being master of your own destiny has seduced plenty of ordinary folks into thinking the start-up entrepreneurs of the world are in vogue. 

We are totally removed from the fact that the ‘Boomer generation’ were the real start-up monarchs and continue to hold a 42% stake of business ownership statistics. They know a thing or two about the realities to expect.

Far be it from our agenda to dispel the rumour and denigrate anybody’s social clout but that vision tends to paper over some of the truths. If you are pursuing your own start-up with the thoughts of showing up to parties like a real life Tony Stark, you might be in for a shock. 

Work hard, play little

Big dreams command big commitments. It is not enough to have the idea and think that’s the ticket to the dance. Ask any surviving entrepreneur how hard they worked to get there? 

The predictability of a 9-5 role fades away into obscurity when you are venturing into self-employment. As you gain traction, the demands of your time become a bit more tenable but starting out…not so much.

A start-up is your baby and if your baby cries, it doesn’t matter what time of the night it is, you respond. Entrepreneurship comes with added sacrifice. Stepping foot in the business ownership world isn’t simply taking a pass on job security and fixed time commitment, it is embracing much more sacrifice beyond that… especially when your dream is big enough to scare you. 

The evening beers with friends, dinner parties, hikes, gaming sessions and sometimes family events make their way to the chopping block in the early stages. Social isolation can beset you at times. It’s nearly a necessity that it does.

Often the same rules of physiology cease to matter to you as you may give up the 8 hours of sleep or eating healthy to be successful. A long standing myth exists that Beyonce’s father made her run 3 miles a day while singing to make sure she would be able to dance and sing for her big shows. This is the level of commitment to eminent success that should be expected.

Time Waits for No One

Not only is the work day of the average entrepreneur stretched beyond normality, it regularly isn’t even enough. Just think about it. A regular company might have a founder, marketer, accountant, receptionist, R&D department and many more. For the start-up, it is often just one or two people wearing all the hats

Time management can be where it is won and lost for many companies. With respect to the correct administrative practices, without putting the right amount of time into the business, you cannot succeed. Project management tools like, Asana and Trello all exist to ensure the right things are being done. They help create a roadmap to your goals. 

Missing funding applications deadlines, RFPs, meetings and client calls are the bane of the entrepreneurial existence. Furthermore, watching opportunities slip through the sieve is deflating to owner and employees alike. 

The magnificence of the “app for that” generation has grafted a technological solution to almost every problem. Outsourcing a per project basis has gifted hours of time back to many a business owner. The reliance on technology means the help needed remains only an e-mail away. 

The requirement, however, falls on the shoulders of the entrepreneur of knowing when the pros outweigh the cons. A time management strategy is a critical planning piece.

Pressure is not just for tires

The picture of an entrepreneur tends to stir images of crisp white shirts stepping out of expensive cars, networking with high society tech company owners. That may be the case for some but certainly not for all. 

The behind the scenes images are likely of rolled up sleeves, furrowed brows and beads of sweat running down the forehead. Let’s be clear, this image, while more representative is not going to be the everyday of entrepreneurial life. It’s just most of them for the first 3 years given that, that is the average age of profitability for start-up companies. 

Until such time as you reach a level of viability, you will feel under the pressure. Proving doubters wrong, maintaining relationships, scaling your business and financial challenge each carry weight.   While it is regularly touted that pressure makes diamonds, it also makes volcanoes erupt. This is not an attempt to scare anyone but expecting stress helps you prepare. 

Failure is more than an option, it is a likelihood

The stark honesty of entrepreneurship is that the chances of failure are absurdly high. Again, not fear mongering. 

It is factual to say 90% of start-ups fail within the first couple of years. Defeat is the abyss that every entrepreneur looks into before they jump anyway. It is uplifting to highlight that many investors will look to see what businesses of yours failed before you arrived at success. 

While it seems counter intuitive, it is an emblem of determination and evidence of learning. Perhaps you read the previous characteristics article but failure and mistakes are reasonably inevitable. It is the rebound that dictates whether the book ends there or there are more chapters to follow. Knowing when to accept defeat is key to knowing how you can find a more plausible route to success. 

Passion and Confidence are Finite

Running into battle, sword drawn is iconic in cinematic imagery. However, the images yield little for the moments of indecision and exhaustion that flicker before or after the bravery. 

For all the hard work, devoted self-belief and unrelenting commitment, something has to give and it is often confidence. 

The 20-mile mark is where most marathoners hit the infamous ‘Wall’. It is around then that the body has used the last of the 2000 calories of carbohydrate it can store and switches to fat as a slow burning fuel source. The transition isn’t just mechanical as the runner feels exhaustion, empty and mental fatigue. 

A similar phenomenon affects many entrepreneurs. The early aspirations that you would have hit certain sales by certain dates, landed significant investment sooner or passed trials quicker come and go.

The levels of rejection, burning the wick at both ends and constantly having the throttle fully open drains confidence. It’s unfortunate but not damning. Persistence is what accounts for the last 6 miles. Without persevering with hard work, nothing would ever be achieved. 

To the victor go the spoils

Despite the social esteem today’s entrepreneurs are held in, it is rarely enticing enough to start-up. No, it would struggle to even make the top 10 list when it competes with having no boss, setting your own schedule, enacting your own creative ideas, using all your skills and all of the other perks of the enterprise life. 

The control of your own path is often the most inviting. You run the risks but reap the rewards. 

Rewards extend beyond financial, although it is alluring enough. They extend to the empowering validation by seeing a dream turn into reality… seeing your own creation be accepted and valued by the frank honesty of consumption. Entrepreneurship comes with trials and tribulations but success is self-actualization in the rawest form. Those are the realities of the success.