As an entrepreneur you will come across many challenges that will make you reconsider why you decided to take on this journey. Here are four major occurrences that can break you, but knowing the battles ahead can also prepare you to plan better.
Success is a word that conjures up images and feelings of accomplishment; it means that you have arrived at this place that brings you satisfaction. Failure or failing is not a part of the plan, but to be an entrepreneur you will face failure and/rejection. It is part of the DNA of being an entrepreneur, what seems like a fantastic idea to you may not be to others. Nor will others share in your enthusiasm, and you can expect that will come from those closest to you. You must be prepared for feeling and being alone at times, and the numerous numbers of doors that will be quietly or loudly closed in your face. But most of all, you must prepare for the fire of failure, and failure is indeed a fire, it can either burn you up or clean away the debris. You have to decide when the fire of failure comes to be prepared to start again, make changes, adjust with what it leaves you with…or walk away.
I can tell you personally, that failure is not easy, but if you are going to win in building your brand or your product you must accept failure, and do so with grace. Grace allows you to rebuild, to see what you need to tweak and redesign in creating a better plan, product or idea. You must change the images and feelings of what failure means to you. And create in your mind the idea that failure is only a step in your success and not separate from it, success and failure go hand in hand. It all depends on the cards you hold in your hands, are you willing to fold or ask the dealer to hit you again. My hope is that you bet on you, and secure that bet with awareness, preparation and grace. Hit me again dealer! I’m not done just yet.
2. Working Non-Stop
Working 24/7 is not what most think of when they go into business for themselves. You’ve seen TV shows with a couple on a beach, laughing and enjoying a cocktail, all the while knowing their employees are hard at work for them. But I can assure you; you will work harder, and longer hours then what you ever thought. And the employees will be you, except you will have many hats; one might be secretary, the other delivery person and don’t forget consumer complaint receptionist. That’s all you! And I gave you the short list of hats. Late nights while others are asleep you will be going over the smallest of details, coming up with new ideas and discussing in your head how to best deal with the latest problem. Sleep will be something others do, right now you will eat and non-sleep, your business.
If you have a family you might want to have a family meeting now, and discuss why Mommy will not be cooking the way she used too. And sex, well you can of course fit that time in, but I can assure you, you will come up with ways on how to maximize that time better as well. Be prepared for scheduling and rescheduling dates with friends, because something came up. Ever heard of the saying “Time is money” you will realize that this is your mantra. Can this break some, honey this will break most, but remember what I first said…if you know the battles ahead you can plan better. So, do have a discussion with your family about your goals and plans, but include them and your partner/spouse to being helpers in the “family business.”
Now is a great time to build up little entrepreneurs too, teach them about money, let them send out your e-blast and allow them to help, helping makes the medicine go down easier. But I encourage you to meet and make friends with other entrepreneurs, because they understand. And you can find some solace in knowing, you have someone to talk to that understands why you’re on the computer and your kids are making English muffin pizza for the third night. Find your balance, what works for you and your family/friends. Use tools that are out there to make the workload easier (I have given you a few in past articles). Remember, none of this will be easy, but it can be worth it.
3. Taking Things Personal
Don’t take anything personal, yes that is hard to do when you have baby business, let’s be real…it can be difficult on a mature business as well. But you have to develop a tough skin. Realize now, that people’s time frame isn’t yours, nor will you share the same expectations. People, whether friends or strangers will express their commitment and will leave you high and dry. Just say as I do “ Don’t take it personally.” Can that break you? Yes it can, because some of us need our own personal cheer squad, but if you learn anything, learn this…count on you. You are the only one you can control, if people who you know support you, that’s great, if they don’t that’s great too. Because, if your idea or product is good enough it will make room for the people who are there, no need to hold space, and no need to be bitter.
Thank people/friends for their time and don’t get hung up with who bought or didn’t buy your product or who came or didn’t come out for your event. Remember the fire of failure? Sometimes it burns up the debris of what you held onto that wasn’t real, the fire makes it all clear. Never and I repeat never rant on social media about your so-called friends, learn to smile in the midst of it all and be your own cheerleader, no squad need apply. Don’t run after friends/family to support your new venture, it would be nice but don’t expect it. Instead allow what will be, be. When I have those who give me a long drawn out excuse as to why they couldn’t attend an event or purchase a book. I stop them in mid paragraph, and let them know it’s ok, and the funny thing is they seem to need to hear me say that. It’s like a relief for them, but what they don’t know is, it was more of a relief for me. If you want to rant, buy a journal. Over time, you will see instead of looking at what others did or did not do, you will begin to focus on your own accomplishments.
4. Lack of Money
Money can be the great determiner if you stay in business. You will spend money, money you do have, and money you don’t. Either way be prepared! For some of you, you will have to find those willing to invest in your product. For that, you will need to already have a business plan and show what you have earned and what you can earn to be able to repay them back on their investment and/interest. For others like myself, you will invest in your product using your own funds. I was fortunate to be able to go into my retirement funds and use that to support my venture. But I fully know I will have to pay back those funds with interest, and even be taxed on it. See, everybody wants to get paid, but that was the risk I was willing to take for me and my dream. That may not work for everyone else, so make sure to plan out with your accountant how to best minimize the losses.
I understood that initially in business, it is expected that I lose more than I earn and to keep very tight records on what I could claim for the business. For me that included not just promoting materials (website, reorder of books, banners etc.) but also, renting space, travel expenses and of course up to date electronics. It adds up, and quick, be sure to keep all receipts for big ticket items and small ones, record where you were, how long, and if what you did promoted the business. Your new hats are now, record keeper and account manager. Yes, you can save money, learning to maintain and design your own website, being your own social guru and taking a quick online course in business management, but that’s more hats.
Decide for yourself what you can and can’t afford and make adjustments, and bring balance to your life as much as possible. By the way, that connection of making entrepreneur friends comes into play right about now, because they can give you some of their contacts or better yet help you in your options regarding how to best maximize your dollars. But don’t take it personal if they can’t, you can either cast out a broader net or learn to do it yourself. What about me you ask? I hold twelve hats as we speak, and I am a DIY entrepreneur. That’s what the fire taught me. As always let me know what you think about the article, I am always on hand to help, listen and heed.
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