The entrepreneurial lifestyle can easily get glamorized by people who are on the outside looking in. It's the epitome of the American Dream cliché and is generally lauded with such adjectives as "determined," "ambitious," and "successful."
But the truth is that the life of an entrepreneur isn't necessarily easy. As the pop-culture phrase has it: "The struggle is real."
Five Challenges That Entrepreneurs Often Face and Overcome
If you happen to meet a successful entrepreneur, you can rest assured that she or he has suffered through a fair share of struggles and setbacks over the years. Very rarely will you encounter someone who reached the top with little or no resistance.
So, with that knowledge in mind, you shouldn't be dismayed if you feel things aren't going your way. The journey of the entrepreneur is often filled with potholes, barriers, and setbacks.
Here are a few of the most common ... as well as a little advice on how to overcome them.
1. Time Management and Focus
Not everyone is cut out to work for himself, or to lead a company, for that matter. Most of us are naturally designed to thrive in structured environments.
In other words, most people need direction; they crave guidelines to nudge them in the right direction. That isn't to say we all love structure, but nearly all of us need some measure of it.
So even entrepreneurs may struggle when they find themselves operating with the general structure removed. The biggest way this shines through is in time management.
When you're laboring with five, six, or seven different responsibilities at the same time, having to manage them all and allocate the appropriate amount of time to each becomes almost impossible. If this is the struggle you're facing right now, you certainly aren't alone.
While you can't control or expand the time you have -- there will always be just 24 hours in a day -- you can control what you do with that time. Here are some tips that entrepreneurs have found very useful:
2. Say the Word "No"
As an entrepreneur, you're in the business of making people happy. When people are happy with your product or service, they give you money in exchange for it.
But too often, somewhere along the way, entrepreneurs can get so accustomed to saying "yes" to everything that the word "no" becomes all but unknown in their vocabulary. This is a problem. You're allowed to say no. In fact, saying no needs to be something you are comfortable with.
Because every time you say no to something, you're saying yes to something else that's more important. You don't have to be a jerk about it, but you also don't want to let yourself become a pushover.
When being able to say no becomes a tool in your box, you'll see your time-management issues dissipate.
3. Unhealthy Addictions
There's a dark side to being an entrepreneur that few are willing to discuss openly. "The hidden secret among many entrepreneurs is the psychological price they pay for their choices," psychotherapist Amy Morin explains. "The demands of business ownership may place entrepreneurs at a higher risk of specific mental health problems."
Entrepreneurs tend to have highly addictive personalities. We are so enamored with the idea of being successful -- and not always or necessarily in the financial sense -- that we frequently get swept up by our emotions.
This can lead to negative conditions such as depression, anxiety, and possibly substance addiction. The latter is becoming a major issue among hard-driving executives.
Because entrepreneurs often work strenuous schedules, they frequently turn to palliatives like alcohol, drugs, food, or gambling as forms of escape. If this sounds familiar, then you surely you know there are ways out.
As American Addiction Centers says: "It's a fact -- addiction is a treatable disease and we think that everyone can have believable hope and recovery." It's imperative that you take action sooner rather than later.
4. Hiring the Right People
A candidate may assume that he or she's the only one dreading the job interview, but that's not necessarily the case. In truth, the entrepreneur could be just as worried about it, perhaps even more so.
That's because the entrepreneur's business is on the line. The right hire could lead to growth and success, but the wrong hire has the potential to derail the whole thing. When you look at it that way, it can mean a lot of pressure!
If you struggle with the challenge of hiring the right people, then perhaps you need to revamp your onboarding strategy. Start with the search process. Are you being sufficiently exclusive about the qualifications you're looking for and the terms you set?
It might take a few weeks longer to compile a list of qualified candidates when you set more stringent and extensive criteria, but it's much better in the long run to take your time than to rush and hire the wrong person.
You may also need to consider how you approach the interview. Are you asking the right questions and involving the right people?
Hiring employees shouldn't be something you do on your own. Try to involve as many other people as possible and take the trouble to scout out references.
Hiring isn't easy, but it shouldn't have to be a major challenge either. By establishing the right measures and staying patient, you can make onboarding one of the greatest strengths of your business.
5. Self-Worth and Meeting Expectations
As mentioned earlier, entrepreneurs tend to have strong personalities. And because business success is typically measured by how well a company performs financially, entrepreneurs have a tendency to tie their self-worth to their net worth.
But remember: The majority of businesses eventually fail, so this can force many entrepreneurs into a struggle with identity issues that have been based on lofty expectations.
If you're an entrepreneur, it's essential to build a life and identity yourself outside of your career and businesses. You need to work on creating a strong foundation that fully includes family, friends, hobbies, religion, and other interests.
This will give you something to hold onto if you fail to meet expectations in your career. If you're honest with yourself, this could well happen, at least from time to time.
No Challenge is Too Big
Every entrepreneur faces different challenges, but the ones above are among the most common. If you're currently dealing with one or more of these issues, it might be time to open up and be more real.
As they say, admitting that you're facing a problem is the first step toward change. Business success isn't easy to attain, and you may have to work through the issues that hit you in a conscious and organized manner.