I can easily tell apart the wannabe entrepreneur, the new entrant to the business world, and the seasoned businessperson. The wannabes exude bright-eyed enthusiasm, innocent pride, and exuberance. They come to me with happy and positive questions – What inspires you? How do you manage time between business and family? What is your beauty regimen? The startup entrepreneurs are either harried, disillusioned, or desperate. There is pleading in their questions and cry in their voice. How do you stay motivated? How do you overcome failure?
The seasoned entrepreneurs are a breed of their own. They are hardened warriors; wise, fearless, humble. Our conversations will focus on the exchange of ideas, sharing experiences, and networking. We also indulge in friendly banter and personal conversations.
What sets the seasoned entrepreneurs from the wannabes and the newbies? Surviving the realities of the business world. The wannabes are still unaware of it, while the newbies are going through it.
Nobody can get fully prepared for the business world. One will have to join the community to fully understand it. I was once a bright-eyed wannabe. My naivete and love for individuality propelled me into taking the plunge and starting my own business. I had amazing business ideas and great plans. I was only going to work hard enough and then I’m going to succeed, no question about it.
And then the realities of entrepreneurship hit me.
Thus, I quickly become the disillusioned newbie.
I thought I knew what I was getting into. I watched my father go through it most of my growing up years. I read a lot about the business I was going into. I made plans. I did my homework. But still, nothing prepared me for the realities that are about to come my way.
The work hours are longer.
If you are dreaming of lazy weekends and short work hours, then entrepreneurship isn’t for you. The 40-hour a week grind you are trying to escape can easily double when you’re running your own business. An employee can leave work on Friday afternoon and not think about it until Monday. The entrepreneur will wake up in the morning and sleep at night thinking about business, every day.
There are a lot of things that will be out of your control.
Your business plans and feasibility studies are great. They serve as a guide towards your business goals. But there are a lot of things that can easily demolish all your carefully constructed plans. The national economy, climate and weather, government regulations, your employees, competitors, and market trends. A good entrepreneur will not put all her money into a single endeavor. A lesson I had to learn the hard way.
You will need help.
You can only do so much. Solopreneurs are great at managing small and personalized businesses. But if you want to grow your company, you will eventually need to take in people. You have to learn how to identify the complementary skills you need for your business, find the right people, train, and empower them. DIYing all the tasks will lead to subpar results. Concentrate on what you do well, and let the experts handle the rest.
Change will be constant.
Change is the only constant thing in the business world. Your customers and their needs will change. Technology, market trends, availability, new laws, and regulations will have an impact on your business. Avoiding and ignoring it is futile. You will need to prepare for it and cushion any negative impact. Thus, learning and innovation will always be part of a businesswoman’s life.
Money is not guaranteed.
We all know that one of the perks of the super successful entrepreneurs is financial wealth. However, money is not guaranteed in business. In fact, most entrepreneurs have to go through a “beggar phase” before they can earn good money. On average, only about 40% of the business life can be attributed to earning, 30% is breakeven, and 30% is losing. You start a business with the losing phase, then you are at breakeven, and then you start earning. If you want a stable and guaranteed earnings, stay employed.
Your ideas aren’t always the best.
All wannabe entrepreneurs think their ideas are the best, unsinkable, and the next biggest thing in the business world. They could be right. But more often, they are confronted with the harsh reality that they are wrong. There could be a better and more efficient way of doing things than your way. The key is to always be open to new ideas, a new way of thinking, different ways of doing things, and adapting them to improve your own.
You will never be truly part of the team again.
Once you establish a business, you are also establishing yourself as the boss, the leader, the employer. Your days of fraternizing with the team after office hours are gone. You can still enjoy lunch together with the team, a few drinks, or even celebrating special events. But the employee-employer barrier will always be there. This is inevitable. Do not take it against yourself or with your employees.