When you become an entrepreneur, you sign up for an amazing journey. One that allows for tremendous freedom, and limitless financial opportunities.
It also comes with a laundry list of frustrations: long hours, cash flow issues, endless learning curves, hustling for clients, marketing, feast-or-famine income, failures, more marketing, cancellations… and the list goes on.
One reason entrepreneurs can stay stuck in these frustrations is simply because of unrealistic expectations. That big gap between what you think entrepreneurial success SHOULD look like and what it ACTUALLY looks like.
Where do these expectations come from? Oh, well, let’s see… maybe people selling the line that we don’t need to work hard or have a list of contacts to succeed? Or the constant message that there are magic ways to become an overnight success. Or simply seeing people who are succeeding without understanding the years of work that got them there?
We fall into the trap of instant success almost without noticing.
How do you escape the trap?
Accept the hard truths about entrepreneurship.
Here are 10 tips focused on the hard truths of entrepreneurship so you can grow, succeed, and keep your sense of humor through the process.
- You’re going to have to work. Everyone who has been dubbed an “overnight success” or who has gotten a “big break” that exploded their business put in years of work to get there. Any big break comes from consistently knocking on doors, practicing, and never giving up completely.
- It’s a long term commitment. Understand from the beginning that building a business is a process, not a onetime event and it takes time. Here’s a way to check this: experts consider 20% year-over-year increase a phenomenal rate of growth. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that during their first few years in business, they often felt like a failure. Because they would get one client at a time, not the avalanche of clients they thought they should get. The growth felt agonizingly slow and like they were doing things wrong, only to look back years later and realize that the simple consistency in their early years built all of their future successes.
- Income must be a central deciding factor. In a small business, everything competes for attention – marketing, sales, accounting, production. In all this busy-ness and noise, making decisions based on the bottom line can get lost in the shuffle and the results can be disastrous. When making decisions, you must look at your numbers as a primary guiding influence.
- Take time (a lot of time) to work ON your business. Working IN your business = marketing, seeing prospects and clients, email, meetings, phone calls, accounting. Working ON your business = vision, strategy, planning, evaluation, development. Without working ON your business, you run the risk of creating a lot of work, but with no direction and poor results.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Entrepreneurs LIVE outside their comfort zone. Which sounds edgy and cool until you discover it means you always have a degree of “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” going on.
- Focus on marketing. You’ve heard the saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Not true. Or how about, “Build it and they will come.” Nope. No matter how brilliant you are or how unique your offering is, you are going to have to actively seek out buyers. No way around it, ever. However, if you’re marketing-resistant, here’s how to make it a lot more fun, authentic, and effective.
- Be consistent. To grow a successful business, it’s more effective to take consistent action than it is to make huge onetime bursts of activity. Be consistent with your message and you’ll become known as the expert in your field. Be consistent with your marketing to get out of the feast-or-famine income cycle. Be consistent with self-care so you can actually enjoy the successes you’re building.
- Fail, try again, repeat (as quickly as possible). Even Tony Robbins sucked when he started. But he was willing to suck, then try again and work his way up to being mediocre, and then try over and over and over until he became truly a master at his work. You will fail – it’s part of the process, so get used to it. The important thing is to be willing to fail, then quickly make adjustments, and try again as quickly as possible so you can achieve mastery as quickly as possible.
- Invest in mentors. You will significantly shorten your timeline to success, and lower your stress levels when you stop trying to figure it all out yourself. Hiring a coach or mentor is reported to give you an 86% return on investment. (Source: International Coaches Federation)
- Get used to never being done. Set goals, yes, and achieve them. But entrepreneurs are hard-wired to always look for the next opportunity. As you’re achieving one goal, you’re already seeing the next one – or the next ten!
Bottom line? Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, nor for the “get-rich-quick” seeker.
It’s for hearty souls like you. It’s for workers. It’s for believers and impact-makers. Champions who are tough enough to persevere when obstacles arise, and humble enough to ask for help to ensure their success.