This blog is about how to become an entrepreneur and specifically, 10 tough truths that no one tells you. So I spent 20-plus years in corporations and agencies and I spent the last six years building a personal brand and an agency. And let me tell you, entrepreneurship and being self-employed is very different than being an employee. Entrepreneurship in society over time has been glorified in media and online. Yes, some things are great about it, but some things are not so great. Some things are really tough. And so I wanted to talk to you a little bit today about what some of those unique challenges are that you discover when you become self-employed or when you become an entrepreneur.
Working solo or with a team, large or small, these are some tough truths about being an entrepreneur.
1: Self-doubt is constant and it’s normal.
No matter how much experience you have, know how much money you have, you will question your decisions daily. Decision making as an entrepreneur or a solopreneur is really hard. That’s why I’m a member of a mastermind group and I’m starting a paid mastermind group called the Brand Design Master’s Guild. Please look for a link to that group in the description. It’ll be launching very soon.
By being a member of a mastermind, you have a group of colleagues, trusted partners who can help you make decisions, who understand your business, understand your challenges and can give you really good advice. So number one is that self-doubt in your decision making is normal and it happens all the time.
2: You have to be your cheerleader.
You have to be your champion. If you need a lot of external praise or a lot of external validation in what you do, being a solopreneur or freelancer or consultant and entrepreneur is going to be really hard for you. You have to feed yourself, you have to stay positive and that’s got to come from within you. Napoleon Hill, who wrote a book in 1937 called Think and Grow Rich lists psychological positivity as the most important and critical success factor that there is.
3: When anything goes wrong, it’s your fault.
Now, you may even work with partners or stakeholders or other people who help you do what you do, but if something goes wrong, it’s coming down to you. The buck stops with you, you’re the person who’s going to have to fix it. And that’s one of the tough truths about being an entrepreneur.
4: Self-discipline is everything.
No one tells you to get motivated. No one tells you you got to wake up in the morning or get to the officer, get working on that project. No one tells you to get going. You have to be very self-motivated as an entrepreneur.
5: You are never done.
No matter how much you do, how many things you accomplish, there’s always more to do. There’s always more you want to do. You are never really totally off. Your mind is always churning and planning and working on the next thing and thinking about the next thing that you want to accomplish. You’re never done. And that’s one of the tough truths that you have to get used to and find peace with when you’re an entrepreneur.
6: Loneliness is real.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about how the entrepreneurial life is lonely and I got to tell you, it’s true. My first year of being solo was a shock to the system. I went from managing really large teams in a corporate environment to being alone in my home office. And after about a year I started to go pretty badly. You have to actively combat the loneliness when you’re an entrepreneur. You can do that by having zoom calls with friends or other entrepreneurial buddies. You can do that by joining a mastermind or improving your network connections and really pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to connect with people.
As a creative professional, a lot of us tend to be introverted and it’s easy to isolate and not be connected and that exacerbates that loneliness. And then some people are more extroverted and that loneliness is even more severe because they need that kind of personal connection. And being an entrepreneur or solopreneur, if you’re an extrovert, the loneliness is even tougher. So that’s the tough truth of being an entrepreneur.
7: You have to know-how and learn how to prioritize things without help and input.
You have to learn time management. You have to learn how to build systems and prioritize and find methods of working that work for you. Do you do the biggest things first? The toughest things first? Do you do the easiest things first? Do you calendarize everything? Do you just take things on as they come across your desk? You have to really learn how to prioritize and what works for you.
8: You can’t do it all yourself.
When it comes right down to it, the idea of a solopreneur is a myth. No one does it on their own. Everyone has somebody that helps them out with something. It may just be someone who helps you do your financial books or someone who helps you do scheduling or administration. You can’t do everything yourself. You can’t know everything. As much as you want to learn and teach yourself everything, there’s not a way for you to know how to do everything perfectly. You have to be teachable, but you also have to understand and learn to recognize when it’s something that you can’t do or when it’s something that’s not appropriate for you to spend your time doing. So you have to realize one of the tough truths is that you can’t do it all yourself and you have to build a larger network of people who are going to help you in your business.
9: When it right down to it, you do wear all the hats.
The buck does stop with you. You have to handle design and business development and sales and account management and finance and IT and office supplies. You have to become in a lot of regards, a generalist, not just doing design, not just doing an illustration or video editing or whatever it is that you do. If you are running a business, you have to do and learn a lot more things, become more of a generalist than you probably are. So keep that in mind. There’s going to be a lot of growth or a lot of stretching your capabilities into areas where you might not be as comfortable. You have to wear all the hats.
10: your mission has to be bigger than yourself:
Your mission as a business person, as an entrepreneur, solopreneur, a freelancer, a consultant, whatever that is, your mission has to be bigger than yourself because being an entrepreneur is so taxing. You have to have a mission that’s going to fuel you. You have to have a problem that you are solving, a higher purpose that you have to your work that’s going to energize and fuel and motivate you to get you through all of these tough truths of being an entrepreneur. How you can stay motivated, how you can stay focused, how you can make decisions through your business. It can’t be just money that’s motivating you, it can’t be just fame, it can’t be just power. You have to have a group, a population, a consumer that you are serving, that you’re trying to provide a solution to. That’s a higher purpose than just something that’s about you.