Awww…the sweet dream of starting and running a business on your own terms, providing the product or service you want and handpicking the people you want to work with, all accompanied by positive outcomes such as low risk, high profits, and serving your community, etc. are often romanticized. Then, you wake up and the reality of being an entrepreneur hits you like a brick to the forehead…ok, maybe not as dramatic, but the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship forces you to buckle up and prepare for the ride!
When I Googled “how to start a business” I got over +5,000,000,000 results in about 74 seconds. I’m sure if you did also, an overwhelming amount of information will jump right out at you from your computer screen or mobile device. There is a plethora of information from government entities such as the Small Business Administration, and USA. Gov, private companies (i.e., Hubspot and Nerdwallet), professional associations (i.e., Chamber of Commerce) and publications such as like Entrepreneur.com, to name a few. With the internet and other resources, it is an understatement to say that there is ALOT of information on how to start a business, the characteristics of an entrepreneur, and what you should or shouldn’t do. It is evident that the “what” and the “how” of entrepreneurship is covered. So, what’s beyond that?
The data is there, but the realities are fleeting…
What seems less prominent is information about the real-life, down & dirty experiences of riding the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship. On the flip slide to my previous Google search, when I look up “The realities of being an entrepreneur,” I got about 107,000,000 results in 0.69 seconds. About 79% less that the “How” search! In a recent article on Forbes.com titled, “The Realities of Being an Entrepreneur” the author states three realities:
- There Will Be Hard Days — Lots of Them
- You’ll Make Mistakes — But You’ll Learn From Them
- Patience Is Key
While these realities are true of entrepreneurship, don’t they also apply to work, school, sports, and just life in general? How is this really dealing with the realities of being an entrepreneur? The reality is that in our dream state of starting a business, we often do not dig deeper into understanding the contributing factors, cause and effects associated with “how.” In an article on Entrepreneur.com it cites the Bureau of Labor statistics data which indicates approximately 20% of small businesses fail in the 1st year, about 30% by the 2nd year and 50% by the 5th year. Further, approximately 65% of businesses fail during the first 10 years and only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. There’s the data.
Between the limited Google search results and articles that merely touch the surface of the realities of what it means to be an entrepreneur speaks volumes about the focus on doing entrepreneurship and the lack of focus on being an entrepreneur. The reality is that entrepreneurs also happen to be human. As entrepreneurs we are not void of the wide range of feelings, emotions, and experiences that we have just because we are human, which is further compounded when you consider the risk and rewards of running a business. So, why aren’t we talking more about the human side of entrepreneurship?
Further, the unfortunate fact is if you are gauging the realities of being an entrepreneur by your social media feed or reality tv shows, don’t be fooled. More times than not, we eagerly post our successes and accomplishments, but the less glamorous moments of late nights, willing yourself to work on projects when you are exhausted, or breaking up with a client for your sanity but at the detriment of your bank account, are not typically shared. Or, on reality shows, they glamorize and romanticize the rewards and riches of being an entrepreneur. The realities of how they really make their money, maintain those lifestyles as well as the sweat, tears and triumphs involved in making those dreams come true, are fleeting. So, where do you go when you need some entrepreneurial advice? Who do you reach out to as a sounding board to work through starting or running your business?
Like the Bob Marley and The Wailers song lyric states, “Who feels it, knows it…”
The truth of the matter is, thanks to the Internet, anyone can search, get information, and learn about being an entrepreneur. Beyond the “what” and the “how” of entrepreneurship is in the application. Applying your knowledge, your talents, your strengths, your business acumen, and having the willingness to venture into the unknown of starting or running a business is where the learning, growing, stretching as well as buckling into that rollercoaster ride filled with peaks and valleys is what makes entrepreneurship a trip. It is in the doing, that you become an entrepreneur.
Further, it is by welcoming others that have taken and are taking the entrepreneur’s trip, that will shed light on what’s beyond what you will find on the internet or from other sources and how you will go about curating a journey that is uniquely yours. Don’t try to do it alone as “every man thinks his burden is the heaviest.” The burden of entrepreneurship gets lighter when the trip is taken with others that are on similar journeys. It is the entrepreneur that is feels it, knows it.
Your Unique Entrepreneur’s Trip
While there is comfort in knowing that other entrepreneurs are there to support you, beyond the “what” and the “how” of entrepreneurship is the reality that every entrepreneur’s trip is different. It is uniquely curated by the person who is taking that journey and it is subject to change at any time, in any place, at any step along the way…as it should be! While your journey into the world of entrepreneurship may be guided by the plethora of information about how to start a business and the best practices, you must be nimble and adaptable to pivot based on national or industry trends, client and target audience feedback, product and service changes, the guidance of trusted colleagues as well as based on your own evolution as a human in business. The burden of your unique journey can only be carried by you, but it gets easier with the support of those that also feel it and know it.
So, wake up from the dream, prepare for the realities, and embrace the journey that is your unique entrepreneur’s trip. It will more than likely not turn out as planned, may not operate on your terms only, you may need to pivot your offerings (product and/or service) and the risks are not always known. You don’t know what you don’t know…that you don’t know. Yet, you keep truckin’ and trippin’ along. The trip is filled with ambiguity, long hard days and you will make many mistakes, but be patient with yourself as you learn, grow, and find your rhythm. Invite fellow entrepreneurs that are like-minded as well as just as crazy, audacious, and aspirational as you are to join you on the trip as it will to help to lighten the mental, physical, and emotional burdens. Then, remember to buckle up and enjoy the ride!
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