Entrepreneurship isn’t a job; it’s a lifestyle. But even the word “lifestyle” doesn’t quite capture the full experience. When you first delve into entrepreneurship, it’s likely you’ll have no idea what you’re doing. You’ll mess up, you’ll become disheartened when your plans don’t work out, and you’ll become tired after pouring all your effort into an idea that may or may not pay off. But pushing through the experience, whether it ends in success or failure, will change your perspective for the better and give you experience that you can use in your next adventure — even if it isn’t an entrepreneurial one.
Any job can give you the opportunity to learn hard lessons and find new ideas about the world, but only through entrepreneurship can you deeply understand the following truths:
1. Your Plans Will Never Work. This sounds abrasive and cynical to the average person, but to the entrepreneur who’s experienced this firsthand, it’s a solid truth. No matter how well you plan things out, and no matter how extensively you’ve thought everything through, your plans will never work out the way you expect them to. In the entrepreneurial world, there are too many unknowns and too many unpredictable factors to account for, and no plan can adequately respond to all of them.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. All that means is that your plans will have to evolve over time, and as a leader, you’ll need to avoid growing too attached to any one path forward. It comes down to being flexible, and accepting that your plans will eventually have to change.
2. There’s Never a Perfect Time. Conservative risk-takers often try to wait for the “perfect moment” — whether that means buying a stock at the perfect price, launching a new product at the perfect time, or quitting your job to become an entrepreneur at the perfect point in your career. For those conservative risk-takers, that means waiting and waiting for all the stars to align and for everything to be perfect before they take action.
Entrepreneurs know there’s no such thing as a “perfect” moment. Just like stock prices will always fluctuate, your product will never be perfect, and you’ll never see a perfect set of circumstances that allow you to leave your job comfortably. As an entrepreneur, you have to take bigger risks and jump in even if it’s uncomfortable to do so. You’ll soon learn that action is always better than inaction, and waiting around for the “perfect” time is a waste. For entrepreneurs, perfection is the enemy of progress.
3. People Come First. Entrepreneurs often start out convinced of the importance of their ideas, their products, and a vision of personal wealth, but all entrepreneurs eventually learn that people are more important than any of those. Even if you have a great idea, it’s going to mean nothing without the right people supporting it.
People are going to help you throughout your entrepreneurial journey; they’re your team, your clients, your investors, your friends, and your family. Without them supporting your idea and contributing their own insights, your idea could fall totally flat. Entrepreneurs understand this, and do everything they can to keep the people around them motivated and inspired.
4. Failure Is Okay. Eventually, every entrepreneur will taste failure. Even massively successful entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates or Richard Branson, have experienced devastating failures along the way. Some choose to let failure get the better of them and abandon their hopes or ideas, but the truly entrepreneurial minds out there accept and understand that failure is perfectly okay, and sometimes unavoidable.
Failure isn’t the end of the road; instead, it’s an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and grow as a business owner. With this understanding, it’s easier to accept small and big failures alike and move on with more experience and a clearer vision for the future.
5. Persistence Is Everything. Millions of people come up with great ideas every day, but only a handful of them have the gumption to follow through with them. Similarly, many people start a business only to throw in the towel when things start to get tough.
Entrepreneurs realize that persistence makes the difference between success and failure. Even when you’re doubtful, even when you’re hesitant, and even when you’ve lost momentum, persisting is the only way to see your ideas through to fruition.
Whether you make it through your first entrepreneurial experience with your business still intact, these five lessons will eventually lead you to success. Understanding how ideas live and die, and having faith in your own abilities and those of the people around you are invaluable traits that can keep you moving forward even when you face massive obstacles along the way. This is what it means to be an entrepreneur.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!