When you read the definition of entrepreneurship, you find lots of references for taking risks, risk of loss, greater than normal risk, and so on. I fundamentally disagree. Being an entrepreneur reduces risk. You are not employed or paid at the whim of a boss. You control your destiny, your upside, your opportunities, your time, and your career. — Mac Lackey, five-time startup founder of companies like Mountain Khakis, the Ettain Group, and Kyck
No one said building a company is easy and it certainly not a straight path either. As an entrepreneur, you will take the risk to start a business by sacrificing your salary to make money on your own and eventually create jobs for others in the future. But to get there, you have to face roadblocks, challenges, and problems and this is the price of the lifestyle you chose. With high risk also comes with high reward, so despite facing a whole load of downsides, you will be deserving a whole load of upsides as well. But it will take time and work to get there. As an entrepreneur, you have to ask yourself:
What do I need to understand and accept to be able to move forward and to set myself free?
In this story, you will learn and understand what are the 4 hard truths you need to accept at some point in your entrepreneurial journey in order to become a successful entrepreneur and business person. Just like medicine, It will be awful tasting it, but you as a patient needed it.
1. You will face anxiety, frustration, and depression
One thing starting entrepreneurs face is an emotional rollercoaster between different emotions. One day you will be happy and one day you will be sad. However, most of the time in your early days you will experience a feeling of anxiety, frustration, and depression. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to experience these, of course, just being a college student can give you these downsides. Unlike in college, at least you are surrounded by peers or friends you are working on something established or known, entrepreneurial lifestyle will make you work on something mostly unknown or unestablished and most of your days, you will be alone, despite having co-founders and/or a support team.
In a study done by overcomingthemind.com, they highlight how entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer depression than those who aren’t.
“Evidence shows that 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by mental illness.”
And a surprising thirty-two percent of entrepreneurs face two or more mental health conditions. This is because starting a business comes with many unique challenges. With 90% of start-ups failing within the first year, the pressure is on for entrepreneurs to produce results in the face of almost imminent failure.
What you can do:
Whether you like it or not, anxiety, frustration, and depression will be part of your entrepreneurial life. That is why it’s crucial to find ways to deal with it or escape it. Here are the top activities you can implement in your daily habits to overcome the downside of being an entrepreneur.
- Meditation — Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a calm mind. During the act of meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate a buzz of thoughts that may be filling and crowding your mind, and that causes stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being. Two useful and simple meditation apps are Headspace and Calm.
- Exercise — One apparent observation among entrepreneurs is they either end up being underweight or overweight. Because of their time focusing mostly on building their startup or business, they sometimes forget grabbing something to eat. Some may see this as a sacrifice, but successful billionaire entrepreneurs suggest that you need to take care of your health just like you take care of your business. You need to find a balance. Certainly, because an unhealthy lifestyle could dramatically lower your productivity, energy, and creativity. Guess what? You need those in your work. So, take care of yourself and invest time in eating well and exercising well. It’s relatively important to be in good shape while building a business as this can enhance your overall image as an entrepreneur and your business. A quick 30-minute daily workout at home is proven to increase your productivity!
- Spend time in nature — Steve Jobs, one of the greatest entrepreneurs and business persons of our time spends most of his meetings and creative work walking outside in nature. He even said that he gets a lot of ideas outside more than he gets inside an office. Nature can heal you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Have you wondered why you suddenly feel great just by having a walk outside of your home? Well, nature does that. It’s like magic. The greatest thinkers and inventors of our time like Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla have even credited with getting their ideas by sitting under a tree and simply observing nature.
A 15 min walk down the street or in the park is shown to have improved mood and vibe!
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” — Nikola Tesla
2. There is no shortcut to success
A big misconception about the entrepreneur lifestyle is that most people in this generation think it’s a get-rich-quick lifestyle. Like a lavish type of lifestyle where you get the privilege to travel around the country. Well, it definitely is not! At least, in your early days of being an entrepreneur. A quote that stuck on me through the years is from my personal favorite entrepreneur/innovator of all time, Sean Parker. He once said,
“Running a start-up is like eating glass. You just start to like the taste of your own blood.” — Sean Parker
Come to think about it, it’s whether you like the taste of your own blood or not. You have to take the hard path and it will take time. Be patient and be resilient. You have to accept now that to become the success you want to be in the future, you have to do the hard and gritty work that will take you there. Sure, there are smart ways to do, but you will most likely spend your time in the process of hard work. After all, if it’s hard work that brought you to the top, it will be all worth it, if not, it’s probably not.
What you can do:
- Train yourself in getting pleasure from hard things and loving the process — You can trick your mind into focusing on the process than the result. A great book I read titled, “Chop Wood, Carry Water” explains more of this concept. The book embodies the idea of focusing more on the process of doing something, rather than its result. It shows that when you focus on the process (i.e me, writing this), you start to live in the moment, so you start doing more quality work and producing better results. Give it a try!
- Apply the divide and conquer strategy — This strategy means that if you take a big task and divide into little tasks, you are more likely to get done efficiently and effectively, than focusing on the big task as a whole. This tactic is also used in the Art of War, where instead of attacking your enemy in large, you take it down one by one, piece by piece, and in this way, you beat them easily.
- Ask help from people that know how to do a task better than you — One important note to keep in mind being an entrepreneur, founder, and/or being a CEO, is your ability to delegate tasks at hand. In short, great CEOs can delegate tasks to their underlings in order to efficiently get tasks done. This gives you more time to do tasks that are more important to you and that are in your area of expertise.
3. You will face the unknown and uncertain
A part of what makes being an entrepreneur challenging is that you don’t know what are you getting into days, weeks, months, or years from now. You only have the slightest idea of how things will roll out. Unlike working on a big corporation, you are working on a startup company, which means you are building and establishing something from nothing. Starting from zero! This particularly makes an entrepreneur's lifestyle extremely difficult. There’s more risk, but there’s a potential for high-reward too. However, you don’t know that! That’s the point! It all depends on your team, idea, product, and execution and there are definitely other factors to consider as well, like marketing, design, and branding.
A great quote from the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman sums it up:
“An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.”
What you can do:
- Use resources from Y Combinator (lectures, podcasts, community) — The most prestigious Startup Incubator in the world is Y Combinator founded by Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston. They have all kinds of resources ranging from essays, podcasts, lectures, video lessons, startup school, and even perks that you can use in your business like credits and discount codes. Y Combinator will definitely make your entrepreneurial journey easy and smooth once you use them as your guide. They have given birth to the most successful startups today, like Airbnb, Instacart, Stripe, Brex, and many more.
- Read powerful entrepreneurial books — One of the best decisions I have made as an entrepreneur is to read books about entrepreneurship. One of these is “Zero To One” by Peter Thiel and I believe I have read his book at least 10 times! It must be a really good book if that’s the case, right? No cap. Grab the book and you will never regret it.
- Listen to podcasts from people that have taken a similar journey — A hack that can enhance your journey as an entrepreneur is to surround yourself with entrepreneurs as well! What sometimes makes an entrepreneur hard, is that he isn’t surrounded by the same people with the same mindset and the same journey. Everything will change once you surround yourself with like-minded people. Everything becomes easier!
4. Some people won’t support you or won’t love what you do
Imagine if your friends celebrate you when you give birth to a business. Some might have already done that, but the likelihood of this happening in your case is relatively low. People nowadays celebrate more if you get a job from a well-known and established company than establishing your own. Few of your so-called friends will actually support you in your journey and even fewer are willing to buy your product. However, that’s okay as this already makes you better than them in terms of ambition and mindset. If you manage to have friends that support your entrepreneur journey, keep them! If not, ignore them! They’re not right for you. Instead, focus on the few people that love your product and that love what you do.
What you can do:
- Talk to people! — Sometimes, people won’t help you unless you particularly talk to them. The same thing for favors, you will never get them unless you ask! Steve Jobs always emphasized that whenever you ask people for a favor, they’re most likely inclined to say yes than refuse. Plus, it will also expand your network and enhance your image! You can start with your friends, as you already know them, so it’s easier to do it.
- Join a community of entrepreneurs or founders like you — Just like I mentioned from point number 3 of this story, join a community of people facing the same journey as you. You can share insights and feedback with each other. Also, you have the ability to do each other favors, resulting in having more resources! So, talk to other entrepreneurs that are in the same process or stage as you!
A good example is to join Facebook groups, follow people on Twitter, and/or join a discussion on Reddit!
So these are the 4 hard truths that most entrepreneurs find it difficult to accept but are necessary costs of living an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Hope to have given you invaluable insights on making your journey as a startup founder or a businessman better and feasible! If you have questions regarding what’s covered in this story, feel open to leave questions in the comment section below.