Being entrepreneur is your obbession?
There seems to be an obsession today with entrepreneurship. I was told the story recently of a 20-something who had quit her job to become an entrepreneur and wanted to know what she should do to start. She didn’t have an idea yet as to what she wanted to do, she simply wanted to be an entrepreneur.
When it comes to money and finances, a side hustle or business can be a great way to add income so you earn more than you could in your 9-5 job. However, too many people see it as a path to riches and fame and don’t think about the hard work and failure or the fact that many business owners are only ever buying themselves a job that pays less than if they were working for someone else. And one that doesn’t pay holidays, superannuation or other benefits.
I believe there are more 'wantrepreneurs' than entrepreneurs. That is, people who want to run a great, successful business but either aren’t prepared to do what it takes, have chosen an idea that is a great hobby but won’t translate to business, are too early, too late or simply don’t have the gumption required. And it’s robbing people of their financial futures.
The allure of being a business owner can be seductive. The stories of the tech company that sold for millions after 18 months, the business owner who has dropped back to non-executive founder and has hit the speaking circuit for big dollars or the business owner posting photos of themselves and their entourage flitting around the world on Instragram.
The truth is, many business owners will fail and many should only ever have a side hustle and keep their day job.
So, if you like the idea of entrepreneurship but suspect you may be falling for the seduction of wantrepreneurship, here’s what you need to know.
1. It will be hardFor a select few it’s easy, the days are short and the money flows. These are what I like to call, the ‘unicorn entrepreneurs’ and while I hope that’s you, please presume that’s not going to be the case. The reality is you’ll work longer and harder than you ever have before, you’ll stress, you’ll freak out, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and for regular, brief periods you’ll wonder if you’re losing your mind.
2. You will be wrong
I have failed so many times and been wrong even more. It’s gut wrenching and potentially soul destroying if you allow it to be. We’re taught to be right, to be perfect, to win. Yet business isn’t an exact science and with risk comes the potential that you’ll fail. If you’re smart you’ll choose to learn something from every misstep and this will mean that future failures will be less costly and less frequent.
3. Your hourly rate will drop
Potentially dramatically and especially at first. If it’s not, the question you need to ask is are you taking funds from your business that could be used to grow it and do you need to take less cash out and invest more cash in. When you’re out with friends and they’re talking about their latest holiday, you will feel like you’re squandering your future and not enjoying today. That’s healthy. It means you’ll either throw it in (which some wantrepreneurs really should be doing) and go get a job that will pay higher or you’ll be more determined to make it and keep your eye on the long-term prize that might ultimately pay you more than a 9-5 job ever could.
4. You will doubt yourself
Often. Particularly at night when it’s quiet and you start to wonder if you’ll be able to pay your suppliers, your credit card bill and your staff. Again, this is healthy if it keeps you moving, searching for better sources of cash flow, more revenue lines, potential investors and ultimately more cash for your business and more sleep for you.
5. You will lose friends
This is a tough one but it’s true. For a while you won’t be available to meet every Thursday at 5pm with your regular drinking buddies and most Sundays will be spent working instead of hanging out at the beach. Friends will question your commitment to them and some will naturally drop away. The good news is you’ll make new ones. You’ll find a core who get it, who want the same things and will cheer you on as you help lift these up.
6. You will listen selectively
Everyone will have an opinion: the taxi driver, your next-door neighbour, your friend from primary school, your partner. Some will be worth listening to, most won’t. That’s because chances are they haven’t run a business themselves and they’re not your customer. The best thing you can do is to find your tribe – those customers you should be listening to, business mentors you should be questioning and others that are further ahead than you that you can learn from.
7. You’ll learn to love the numbers
Just joking. So, you won’t learn to love the numbers but you’ll learn to appreciate them. You’ll learn to value what they’re telling you, you’ll understand which numbers are critical and what activity you need to take as a result of what they’re telling you. If you don’t then you have a long way to go because if you don’t know your critical numbers then it’s like trying to run a business with your hands tied behind your back. Sure, you might do it but you’ll do it a whole lot better if they’re free.
8. If you succeed, it will be worth it
After over a decade in business, some days I still wonder if it’s worth it, but what I do know is that after over a decade in business and three businesses later, I am completely unemployable. I guess that's what makes me an entrepreneur.