I'm not sure who originally shared the quote below, but it's one of the best summaries of business ownership I've ever come across:
"Entrepreneurship is crazy. One day you feel like you're on top of the world, and the next day you want to die."
These experiences are two sides of the same coin. Fortunately, there are some simple--if harsh--truths that will help you as an entrepreneur. You may not want to hear them, but these seven realities will make you a better business owner.
It's Not All About You
Depending on the day, this may be either a blow to your ego or a tremendous relief. Remember that the world doesn't revolve around you and your company. When you have your entire life wrapped up in a new venture, it's easy to get tunnel vision. This can make you alternately feel like you're the greatest person in the world, or like the world will end if your company goes under.
Neither one is true. It's simply not all about you. Relax. This is a great opportunity, but there are many others as well.
You Can't Do it All
Want to know one of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs making? It isn't chasing competitors or marketing before product-market fit has been established (although both of those are major challenges many new entrepreneurs face). Instead, it's thinking that you--and you alone--are enough to drive your company to success.
Many entrepreneurs are so excited about their idea that they're sure they're the only ones who can do it right. While startup owners do have to wear a lot of hats at the beginning, delegation is an important part of success. If you try to do it all, you'll burn out and set your company up for failure.
Instead, focus on hiring people who are great in the areas you can't do so well. Don't hire clones of yourself--hire people who can fill in your gaps and help you succeed.
Your Customers Don't Care About Your Product
At least, they don't yet. Being the latest and greatest may make you feel good, but until you connect to your customers' needs and desires, they won't care at all. "Build it and they will come" only works in movies--you need to connect with the daily lives of your customers if you ever hope to have an impact.
To become successful as a business owner, focus on building customer personas and understanding the true daily lives of your potential customers. Focus your branding and promotion on them, not you, and you'll find that, eventually, you have all the attention you need.
You're Going to Fail--and it's OK
I'm not saying your company is destined to go under. I'm talking about smaller failures. A misstep that costs you funding. A mistake in marketing that sets back sales. Failure to have a good customer service department that responds to issues promptly and encourages client retention.
These things suck, but they happen all the time.
The good news is that these small failures aren't the end of the line. They're an important part of the growing process. If you can take them in stride, you'll be on your way to greater success.
You May Never Make Millions
It takes time to succeed in business. I've heard it said that there are years of work behind every "overnight success," and it's true. The media may start covering a business suddenly, and it seems as if the company came out of nowhere. It didn't. The owners toiled in obscurity for years before they hit the limelight.
It'll be that way for you too. And when your success does come, it may not be millions of dollars. While the entrepreneurial heroes are the ones that sell to Google or Facebook for a major payday, that's the exception--not the norm. Accept that your success may be smaller, but it's still valid and worthwhile.
You'll Be Lonely
Especially in the beginning, being an entrepreneur can be very lonely. When you haven't yet built your team, and all you have is an idea and a passion, it's hard to relate to others who don't feel the same passion. Those around you may actively discourage your pursuits, requiring you to pull away from the people you're closest to.
At the same time, the long hours will make it hard to maintain the social and family life you're used to. It will be an adjustment, but you still need to be sure to invest in your most important relationships--no matter how busy you are. Businesses will come and go, but family and friends aren't as easily replaceable.
Habits Beat Inspiration Every Day
Inspiration gets you started, but habits keep you going. If you're going to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to begin developing the right habits immediately. Fiscal responsibility, discipline, and hard work are important. But so are physical health, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills.
Being the right person is just as important as hiring the right person. Build your habits now, and they'll be there to take over for you when inspiration fades.
Nobody said being a successful entrepreneur is easy, but it is worth it. The earlier you get comfortable with these harsh truths of entrepreneurship, the sooner you'll be on the path to business success.
What other harsh truths have you encountered as an entrepreneur? Share your favorites in the comments below!