The Cost of Being an Entrepreneur
There is a lot of guidance around pursing your dreams. There is advice about how to set high long-term goals, short term achievable goals to help you feel accomplished along the way. Books have been written about the time and energy you will have to put in to be successful.
However, there is a cost associated with actually achieving those goals, and being aware of it can help you mitigate the effect it will have on your life. Here are a few of those costs and how to deal with them.
Being an entrepreneur, especially when you first start out, will cost you a lot of time. There is a huge learning curve. Besides your passion you will need to learn about accounting, marketing, and distribution.
Whether your location is a physical store, an office, or a website you will have to take time to get things organized, purchase needed equipment, and establish a workflow. This will all eat into the actual time you have to actually do the work that is part of your dream: producing goods, providing services, or whatever your new company will do.
Early on, you will need to enlist the help of partners to perform certain tasks. You will need to find an accountant or accounting software to help you with keeping your finances in shape. You will need marketing partners to help you produce content, like Square Ship for video content and freelancers for writing or graphic design.
It is important to understand that while there are a number of ways you can increase your financial budget (more on that in a moment) you cannot increase the budget you have of time. You can only manage it better.
Project management software like Asana, communications tools like Slack, and other applications can make your life simpler if you use them properly. Remember, you are in control of every minute of your day, and if you don’t control your time, someone else will control it for you.
At first, starting your company and launching your dream will cost you money: yours. There are ways you can get funding and even start selling goods and services right away to generate income, but there will be a period in which you will need to invest your own money before that time comes.
Much of the time, this means you must hang on to your day job for a period of time, working full or part time in addition to starting your company. This means you will lose sleep, time with friends, and recreation time.
The key is that with your time, you need to feed yourself every day. You need to be fed physically, spiritually, and mentally. Take time to read a book, even if it is just for half an hour. Meditate, even breathe using an app to remind you if need be. Exercise, and stand often. Set timers and reminders for yourself, and don’t let anything interrupt this schedule.
Making money is vital, but without your mental, physical, and spiritual health it will not matter. Stick to a strict budget. Grow your business slowly at first so that you can manage it effectively. Barter services when you need to hire someone, and shop around. Be frugal with the supplies you buy, shopping used when possible.
Eventually, you can seek investors or your business will start to grow, and money will be less of a concern. Initially though, be prepared to sacrifice financially until your business is up on its feet and running.
Some friends will be supportive, and others will think you are crazy. From either camp, you will lose friends as you move forward, especially when you do not have as much time for them as before.
This means you need to make the time you spend with them more meaningful. Don’t always talk about you, your business, and what you are doing. Listen to them, ask about their lives, and just be quiet for a while. It will do both you and them good.
Your true friends will support you and stick with you through your transition, and others will come and go. Understand this going into your venture, and you will be better able to deal with it when it happens.
The reaction of your family, outside of your immediate family, will match that of your friends. Some will be supportive and stand by you, others will not. Some will get offended by your absence and lack of time, others will understand.
This is an area to be careful in. Your immediate family is most important, and you must take time for them first of all. Your extended family is still important, and you need to take time for them when it is appropriate. Try to give yourself holidays and weekends as free from work as possible.
Family interests will conflict with both time and money, but if you deliberately work at it you can find a compromise that works. Still, some in your family may never come around to supporting you. You simply need to be okay with that.
It is actually impossible to live a balanced life. In his book, The One Thing, Gary Keller explains that life is never about balance, it is always about counter-balance. Things will always be a little out of balance at least, but they key is to deal with the most important thing in front of you at that moment.
This means that when you are working, be working on the thing that matters most on that day. When you are with family or playing, be with them, and don’t be distracted or multitasking with work.
This is hard thing to remember and achieve, and perhaps the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur.
The cost of being an entrepreneur is more than just financial. It will cost you time, family, friends, and can disrupt the balance in your life. But with careful planning you can mitigate this cost, and find success both at work and at home.