Most people want to start their own business, but most people won't be able to pull it off.
Of the 20-something crowd, 63% either operate a business or want to someday. MarketWatch reports that 40% of employees want to flee the cubicle and taste the entrepreneurial life. Millions of people dream of owning their own business, making millions, working from home, or otherwise living the glamorous life of an entrepreneur.
Little do they know....
If you're part of the vast majority of the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free in the freedom and glory of starting your own business, this article is for you. My thesis is simple: It's not all glamor and glory.
Here are some of the rude awakenings that you may need to keep in mind. If you're truly willing to start your own business. Count the cost and brace yourself for the impact
1. You will be stressed out of your mind.
No matter how much meditation, exercise, yoga or aromatherapy you do, you're going to be stressed--really stressed. Stress is a nasty foe. It's sneaky, discouraging, and hazardous to your health. If you've never felt real stress before, you'll get a huge dosage as an entrepreneur.
But in an odd sort of way, stress is awesome.
2. You'll stop sleeping.
I'm a major proponent of getting enough sleep. However, if you start your own business, you're going to get way less than you wish. Business becomes life, and slowly edges out your precious hours of slumbering. Don't worry; you didn't need that sleep anyway.
3. You have to know everything about everything.
One of the surprising things about owning your own business is how much you have to know. First, you knew about your product or service. But now? Now you have to know about accounting, building management, digital marketing, employee compensation, insurance, and who-knows-what-else.
4. You have to be cold-heartedly competitive.
When hobbies turn into businesses, things feel much different. Your goal in business may not be to squash the competition and grow to a mammoth size. Even so, you'll need to be competitive just to stay afloat.
5. You'll have to become a business person.
Regardless of your training or skill set, it's time to wear a new hat--the hat of a business person. Owning your own business takes you from whatever you used to do and into the role of business person plus whatever else you do.
When you reach this point, it's important to realize that you need to focus on your business, not in your business. You may be tempted to do what you did best--arranging flowers, writing code, designing logos, whatever. But now you realize that the way you can serve your business best is by growing the business, not just doing the work.
6. You'll have to let go of perfection.
If you wait to start your business until the time is right, the situation is perfect, and the stars are aligned, you will never begin. And then once you do start, nothing goes as planned. Most business lurch into life with a rough start and little to no semblance of perfection.
7. You'll feel like everything depends on you.
The sheer burden of owning and operating a business is a harsh surprise. You'll experience the sharp and unnerving sensation that everything depends on one person--you. Well, guess what. It does. Good luck with that.
8. You'll have to do everything.
From writing a business plan to taking the trash out at the end of the day, the buck stops with you, the business owner. The accountant, janitor, legal expert, staff, consultants, board of directors, and primary decision makers are all rolled up into a single role, business owner. Look in the mirror to find out who that amazing person is.
9. You'll have to face the fear of failure every day.
How do you handle fear? If you're going to be an entrepreneur, you're about to find out. This level of fear isn't the same as Halloween horror houses, or gimmicky scares. This is the deep and persistent fear that you'll fail. Not fun.
10. You'll have to beg. for money and for people and for clients.
Entrepreneurs are really just good beggars. They have to beg for money. They have to beg for employees. They have to beg for clients. Begging, also known as "selling," is humbling, but essential for survival.
11. You'll struggle with insecurity.
Entrepreneurs struggle with insecurity. It comes with the territory, so be prepared to embrace it. Such insecurity stems from the misalignment of expectations with reality. If you can learn to expect less, you'll be able to squash insecurity much easier.
12. You'll feel like you're a not a big deal (at all).
The feeling of a big-shot entrepreneur doesn't happen to many people. If you do get flitting sensations that you're hot stuff, you're probably about to make major mistake. Most of the time, you'll feel like a very small fish in a very large pond. We won't all be Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk, and that's okay.
13. You'll be poor.
40% of small businesses are profitable, and for those that do become profitable, it takes years to get to that point. Tighten your belt for a few years of eating ramen and sleeping on the floor. Keep dreaming about the Bentley and penthouse. They might come. But in the meantime, it's penury and credit card debt.
14. You'll realize you suck at time management.
It's cliche to claim that you're busy. When you become a business owner, you'll realize that you never knew what busy was. What's more, you'll realize that all your time management techniques will wither in a whimpering pile of uselessness.
15. You'll work harder than you ever thought possible.
The brutal forces of business ownership push you to extremes that you thought you would never be able to attain. The best way to revolutionize your work ethic is to start your own business and realize that it's sink or swim.
16. You'll realize that this is a lifestyle, not a job.
Gone, gone are the days of a nine-to-five existence, coming home where you feel worry-free. The business owner lives his or her business every minute of every day. There is no escaping what has become your new lifestyle. The days of "having a job" are long gone. Hope you enjoyed them.
If this article has caused you to recoil in horror from an entrepreneur's life, then I have achieved my goal.
If entrepreneurship is not you, then do not attempt it. I would rather have you succeed at what makes you happy and fulfilled, then force yourself forward in a life that you loathe.
But there's a reverse psychology going at work in this article. True entrepreneurs will look at the above list, and smile. These are the things that get you excited. Rather than cause you to shrink in terror, they energize you and inspire you.
The agonies of the entrepreneurial life have their rewards. It's not just the rewards themselves that are satisfying, however. It's the simple and inexplicable fact of doing it. The journey is the reward.
Why does a marathoner train, sweat, and spend hours moving his body forward? It's not just to earn first place at the finish line. It's the thrill of the effort itself.
True entrepreneurs may not be ready, but they will embrace the challenge. In the end, they will gain the biggest realization of all--that doing is always better than dreaming.