Every time an entrepreneurial success story hits the news, I’m always happy for the people involved who have seen their dreams turn into something bigger than themselves. It’s incredibly rewarding to bring a product or service to the market and see your ideas rewarded with sales and customers – so whether it’s my success or someone else’s, I get a thrill out of seeing entrepreneurs do well and achieve their goals.
However, it’s always frustrating to see media sources hone in on these entrepreneurial successes – and not the tremendous amount of hard work and effort that’s gone into reaching these heights.
Take the founders of Instagram, who recently cashed out with a $1 billion buyout offer from Facebook. Plenty of mainstream and industry news sources want to paint these young guys as “tech wiz-kids” who struck it big with a lucky idea. Very few of these same stories pay more than a cursory lip service to the hours upon hours of brainstorming, planning, testing and promoting that must have gone into their eventual success.
As a result, too many people see an unrealistic picture of entrepreneurship as something that anyone can do. They see the big wins, but not the mountain of resources and effort that goes into making a business venture successful. Realistically, this isn’t the case – entrepreneurship, like any other career in the world, isn’t the right fit for everyone.
So if you’re on the fence about whether or not entrepreneurship is a good choice for you, take a look at the following list. Hopefully, these reasons will clear up some of the misconceptions people hold regarding what it takes to be successful in this realm.
Reason #1 – It’s harder than it looks
In many ways, becoming a successful entrepreneur is a lot like becoming a professional athlete. Athletes train for years and years – though only a few ever make it to sport’s highest echelon – in the same way that would-be entrepreneurs toil away at ideas that are much more likely to fail than to succeed.
So if you wouldn’t think that a few hours of basketball practice would qualify you for a spot on an NBA team, why on Earth would you think that building a successful business could be accomplished on the merits of an idea alone?
The sad truth is that, in 99% of cases, being an entrepreneur is hard. It can be back-breakingly, mind-numbingly hard at times, and really, if you aren’t questioning your sanity every so often, you probably aren’t doing it right. Slackers need not apply, so check your expectations of a quick and easy ride to the top at the door.
Reason #2 – You’ll fail nine times out of ten
If you love failing, you’re in luck – you’re going to do it over and over again as an entrepreneur. On the other hand, if you’re the type who was completely dismantled by anything less than an “A” on your report card, the brutal world of business ownership might be a poor choice for your personality.
Businesses fail for plenty of different reasons. You might have a perfect idea, but the wrong timing, the wrong resources or the wrong promotional strategy. You might notice a growing trend, but be too late to capitalize on it before competitors enter the market. Some of these factors may fall within your control, but plenty of them won’t. As they say, if you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen!
Reason #3 – You don’t have the drive in you
Now, it’s one thing to say that entrepreneurship is a lot of work and that it’s prone to failure. It’s generally common knowledge that the most important things in life don’t come easily – whether that’s weight loss, business growth or any other major endeavor.
However, saying that something is hard and actually accepting the amount of drive needed to bring about these goals are two different things. If you’ve never set your mind to something huge and tested the amount of drive and perseverance you have within you, the place to start isn’t by quitting your job to pursue an entrepreneurial whim!
Reason #4 – You’re broke
Yes, it’s possible to start a company on a shoestring budget. The problem is that, while you’re busy scrimping and saving every penny to fund your fledgling operation, you’ve still got to buy food, pay the electric bill and keep a roof over your head.
So while you don’t need to be wealthy before starting a company, having a little something in savings before making the leap helps a lot. Not only will this lessen the money-related stresses in your personal life, it’ll enable you to make better decisions in terms of finding the right time to seek capital injections (versus pursuing investment too early in order to keep the lights on).
Reason #5 – You don’t know enough people
There are plenty examples of people who start from nothing and wind up tremendous successes, but I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty more who have succeeded due to their networks and connections.
Today’s business world is predicated on relationships. If you’ve taken the time to invest in growing your network, you’ll find that important connections occur naturally – often seeming to put you in the right place at the right time to meet a new customer, mentor or employee. If you don’t have these existing relationships and aren’t on board to create them, you may be SOL when it comes to gaining traction for your new product or service within your marketplace.
Reason #6 – “Entrepreneur” is hard to spell
Seriously – I misspell this word just about every day…
(Okay, with the advent of spell check, I suppose it’s not as necessary that you know how to spell the word correctly off the top of your head. But you’d think that – given how much we already have on our plates – the powers that be could have chosen a simpler word for startup business owners…)
Reason #7 – You’re in it for the wrong reasons
At the end of the day, the reasons that motivate you to pursue entrepreneurship will play a tremendous role in how successful you become.
If you get into the game with money-making as your primary focus, you may find it difficult to sustain the level of energy needed to build a winning organization. On the other hand, if you’re growing a company out of a burning desire to make your world a better place, you’ll never lack the passion needed to come to work energized, day in and day out.
The bottom line is this. Entrepreneurship is essentially trading your knowledge, your experience, your wisdom, your time, your carefree weekend hours and your energy for a slim shot at making it big. It requires incredible fortitude and drive, so if you aren’t in it for the right reasons or willing to ride out the failures you’ll inevitably experience, I’d strongly recommend seeking out another career path.
Do you agree or disagree? While the above reasons reflect my own experiences as a small business owner, they likely aren’t the same as everyone else’s. If you’ve seen a different side of the entrepreneurship process, share your thoughts and wisdom in the comments section below.