Is being an entrepreneur worth it? 15 harsh truths

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Is being an entrepreneur worth it? 15 harsh truths

If you are an entrepreneur or have run any kind of business, you have probably asked yourself is being an entrepreneur worth it?

If you are considering becoming an entrepreneur, which many young men today seem to be, you may be asking the same question.

In the news these days, we are inundated with success stories of how young innovators overcame adversity, built a huge business, and are now set for life.

If you have ever searched for some online business advice, you have probably seen ads for online courses, online stores, and much more encouraging you to start a lifestyle business to ‘escape the rat race’.

To those of you who are entrepreneurs, you probably already know that the reality is somewhat less romantic than what may be presented.

You are, often, a jack of all trades bootstrapping your way through massive uncertainty and have little to none of the work-life balance that so many companies seem to say entrepreneurship can offer.

Of course, this is possible but it’s not always the reality, and rarely if ever does it provide this from the get-go.

If you are an entrepreneur, I hope that this post can provide some reassurance that you are not alone and encourage you to push forward and succeed.

If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, this post will give you some things to think about before embarking on an entrepreneurial venture.

But before we get into it, you are probably asking who I am; a well-publicized successful entrepreneur who sold a tech company for millions and now lives a life filled with beaches and midday martinis?

No, sadly but realistically not. I am 33 year old that has started a number of businesses, mostly online-focused; most as ‘side hustles’, and one of which I continue to work on full time.

I have run an online leather accessory company, an online English language school, and I am currently working on a coffee company and sharing my experiences on life on this site. I have also worked in venture capital during which I worked with successful and struggling entrepreneurs on a daily-basis.

I am not financially free, a guru, or anything of the kind. I am not going to sell you an online course to make a million dollars in this post!

I do, however, have considerable experience as an entrepreneur, and in the startup scene. and Today I will share some things that I wish I had known all those years ago when I began my first business and many times since then.

Without further ado, let’s get into 10 truths you must know if you are asking if being an entrepreneur is worth it.

1. You likely won’t make money when you start

One of the biggest mistakes I saw that I made early on is thinking that I could just start a business and then sit back for the money to roll in.

Create a system they said. Automate the business they said. While this is possible and becoming more widely possible with advancements in technology, it is not easy or what should be expected.

Most don’t realize how much time, effort, and cost it takes to start a good business.

Did you know that it is estimated that most online businesses will take 2-3 years to break even?

Despite being cheaper to run, and certainly cheaper to set up, having been through the ins and outs of online business, I would well believe this estimate.

2. You will need to be a jack of all trades

When starting a business, whether you are going to be doing a side hustle or are committed to it and leaving your day job, you will need to learn and know multiple roles.

Even if you are going the route of hiring employees and outsourcing certain jobs, you will need to know what you are talking about. Asking the right questions means having the right knowledge; if you don’t have it, you stand to waste a lot of money.

If you are doing it solo, it means that marketing, graphic design, web development, accounting, customer service and many more will be areas that you need expertise in.

In my first online business, I learned how to build a website, how to take product photos, how to use social media for business, how to run google ads and how to register a business.

In my second business, I expanded on this by learning how to shoot videos, create online quizzes (which is easy), how to build organic traffic to a website, and much more.

In my third, I am still expanding. I am still learning and absolutely have to be. As I mention at a later point, things are constantly changing and you have to keep up to compete.

A google algorithm update here or a Facebook change there, not to mention legal updates can have a massive effect on your business almost overnight.

You won’t like all these areas. You won’t be naturally good at them all. But you will have to become competent.

3. Motivating yourself will be difficult at times

Working for yourself can be great but it also means that you are the only one holding yourself accountable to work. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

This can be an incredibly difficult thing to do when you are in a slump, feel sick, or simply want to relax and play games all day.

With large corporations, there is always someone to hold you accountable – your boss or the higher-ups. This might not sound like the best motivation but at times it can be.

If you are running your own business, nothing seems to work at times and you will wonder why you are bothering. You decide what you do and no one else. This is a privilege and a challenge.

Without this accountability, it is even more important that you are your own motivation when running a successful business.

4. Things are constantly changing

The online world is constantly changing. The rules, the trends, and the best ways of doing things are always changing – and fast.

Whether you are a side hustler or going all in, be prepared to keep up with this.

In addition to keeping up with what is happening in the online space, your competitors will always be watching you and if you stop innovating, they will pass you by quickly.

5. It’s easy for your business to take over your life and identity

When you start a business, it can be very easy for your entire life to revolve around it.

I have almost fallen into this trap numerous times but there is no doubt that once you make the leap, if your business succeeds, there is always more that could be done.

When you are constantly working on growing and improving your business, it becomes harder and harder to step away. This isn’t a bad thing so much as a reality of running any business.

However, keep in mind that the work-life balance you hope to achieve may be more difficult than online ‘gurus’ would lead you to believe.

Even if you do automate your business and you don’t have a lot of work to do all the time, it can be difficult to get it off your mind. This is particularly true if you work from home.

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

6. Your friends and family may not support you

You are going to have to make sacrifices if you are going to run your own business. This means long hours, a lack of free time, and probably also a lot of money being invested.

It can be difficult for people close to you to understand this – especially if they see that you aren’t seeing the ‘success’ that so many online courses and blogs will talk about.

Moreover, if you are moving into an online business or newer type of business, older people like your parents simply may not understand what you are doing and therefore will find it difficult to give you their full support, as much as they might want to.

7. You will have massive dreams that may not be tied to reality

This is one of the biggest concerns that entrepreneurs have when they start a business. In many cases, they are trying to make these dreams materialize but it’s common to wonder if they will ever happen.

That being said, I am of the belief that anything is possible with enough hard work and dedication. If you have a dream or two that you want to see come true, go for it!

I would say think big, but plan for less and be patient.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

8. You will need mammoth patience

Businesses are almost never built overnight.

When you start a business, you will need to be willing to let things develop at their own pace.

Don’t be afraid to stop and re-evaluate early on but also don’t jump the gun and lose customers because you want them to see results fast.

If a product isn’t going well and it’s been months of trying things, take it slow, analyze what is working and what isn’t, and most importantly make sure that you are always trying new things.

This is particularly true for anything organic like a blog. It will take a year of consistent effort before you see any results. Most people don’t have the patience and give up too early.

9. A big part of your job will be solving problems

I love saying this simply because it is true.

Your customers will have problems and you will need to solve those problems.

If you have employees, you will be responsible for keeping them happy.

Your website will go down and you will have to fix it.

Whether it’s a technical problem or a marketing one, learning how to solve other people’s problems in addition to your own is something that most successful entrepreneurs say to be the core of any good business.

10. New businesses can be massively unpredictable

This is something that I deal with all the time.

While that has given me experience in several areas that have helped me, there are also things that are completely unpredictable which can be incredibly frustrating if you get into it without knowing this ahead of time.

You can do financial forecasts until they come out of your ears but do realize that they are just that forecasts, especially for new businesses.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do them; you should. However, keep in mind that it is a prediction. You cannot predict the future. Plan conservatively, and be capable of adjusting (or pivoting).

A mentor of mine once said to me when speaking of this “I would prefer a positive surprise”. You would too.

I have seen this not only in my own businesses but also in the venture capital industry where relatively new startups receieve multi-million dollar investments.

11. Things will take longer than you think

When you are starting a business, there is huge pressure to make things happen quickly.

This can be the case with online courses and blogs as well as businesses in general. I know that I always used to think that if something wasn’t working out quickly, it wasn’t going to work out at all.

The reality is that this is rarely true. Even if your venture isn’t seeing immediate results, they will come over time and you will learn how to grow and succeed at it.

12. You will need more money than you think

Gary Vaynerchuck once said that income or cash is “oxygen” and I couldn’t agree more. Start making money as soon as you can as you will probably need more of it than you can think.

So much of starting your own business is tied to the money coming in.

Your startup costs will need to be covered and the money you expect to be bringing in will need to cover those expenses.

There are a lot of great things to come out of running a business but cheap doesn’t mean that you can skimp on anything.

13. You will worry and question if you have made the right decision

Despite being prepared, motivated, and possibly seeing some success, you will worry and question whether you have made the right decision going it alone.

There is a lot of fear that comes with taking on your own business and you will question whether you are making the right decisions or not.

You aren’t crazy but it’s still something that you will inevitably experience.

14. It will be hard

Starting your own business will be incredibly difficult.

This is partially because of what I just mentioned – that you will doubt yourself as well as want immediate results.

The other part is the fact that you will likely work harder than you have ever worked in your life to try and see the results you want.

There are exceptions but exceptions they are.

15. If you have to quit, it will hurt

When I gave up on my online English school, it hurt. It wasn’t something I was looking forward to doing but I knew that it wasn’t working for me and that something had to change.

If you have to do the same, don’t look at it as giving up. Look at it as learning from your mistakes so that the next venture you go in on will be more successful.

To conclude, I would say that being an entrepreneur can be incredibly rewarding. It is empowering and exciting to be able to turn ideas into tangible realities. But it is also incredibly difficult and stressful, especially in the early stages of your company when you are just trying to get going.

You need to make sure that you know if the positives will outweigh the negatives so you can stay motivated and continue with your company.

As always, I hope that you found this post useful. If you have anything to add in terms of experience or perspective, we’d love for you to contribute in the comments to benefit other entrepreneurs or those considering becoming on!