When I set out to become an entrepreneur, there were no instruction manuals that came along with the journey. In fact, I didn’t realize I became one until I was fully encapsulated in it and recognized that with the beauty of not having someone telling you what to do, or having set 9-5 hours, there are a lot of challenges that come with the territory.
Time Is The Most Valuable Asset
Time is money in entrepreneurship, and you will realize that very fast. There will never be enough time in the day to do it all. The biggest challenge is learning how to prioritize your time and learning how to say no to the things that chip away at your time. You will say no to meaningless conversations or projects that don’t bring you high ROI, conversations will become short and brief, and you will guard your time like a red velvet rope to the exclusive VIP section. There’s a lot of time management that goes into being an entrepreneur that many do not realize until they are knee-deep in this world and wearing thin.
In my beginning days, I joined every professional group I could, and attended every local networking event I could, lunch and dinners included. I spent over 10 years in the executive world as a litigation attorney, so networking was very much a part of my professional essence. But, as a solo business owner, I soon realized that networking was a double-edged sword. I needed to make professional connections, but I also needed to do client work. I needed to take on consultation calls for prospective clients, yet, I needed to also allot time to speak to current clients.
Running a high-ROI service-based business does not afford you the ability to attend numerous events unless you are delegating the work to another person. What helped me immensely was looking at my project calendar, seeing where my clients were coming from, and remaining truthful about my own bandwidth.
Your Priorities Will Shift Big Time
To grow your business and make it a profitable one will require most, if not all, of the spare time you used to have. When I was a full-time practicing attorney and employed by a firm or a company, it was easy to wake up early in the mornings and head out for a run or to the gym. It was even easier after working a 10+ hour day to binge-watch TV, head to dinner with friends, or even catch the newest happy hour in town. When you are an entrepreneur, any spare time you have (it’s usually very minimal) will often center on setting up social media posts, curating new content, tweaking things on your website, preparing new email marketing strategies, or even getting ahead with client work. People who work the standard 9-5 hours won’t understand the heartache and pressure of being an entrepreneur. You will feel isolated and alone at times. Your priorities will shift. Friendships will dwindle, you’ll become distant from friends who you used to talk to daily, and you won’t want to waste your energy on meaningless acquaintances. You’ll be called selfish, greedy, and cold. People will say you’ve “changed.” Successful entrepreneurship will definitely change you. The stairs to the top are often lonely.
Success Does Not Happen Overnight
Behind the success of entrepreneurship is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. I grew my business very fast when I delved into it full-time, faster than most people in my space. I had awe, excitement, resentment, jealousy, and other emotions being thrown at me. I had people copying my content and replicating my marketing. There were people who were doing it longer, or people who couldn’t get their business to click for them. I heard: What was she doing differently? How was she so successful so quickly? Why her? Envy is a vicious weapon in business and I had to learn to block it out.
Success does not happen overnight. What you see on the outside, you don’t see behind the scenes. I went head-first into my business, putting in 100+ hours a week, and many weeks, I still do close to those hours. If you aren’t putting in the long hours, you aren’t going to reap the rewards. I was trained to work like a beast because I spent 10+ years in a profession that gave me the training and prepared me for battle every day. When the pressure fell on me to do everything, and I saw the results come in, I realized where I needed to concentrate my focus. I knew what worked and what didn’t work. I constantly reinvented myself, tweaked things, and kept pushing harder. Entrepreneurship became like a marathon for me, and since I ran two of them, I knew it was all mental and not a sprint.
The Fear of The Unknown
Unlike the security of a paycheck, entrepreneurship throws in a wrench of uncertainty. You can go a week, or even a few weeks without a single sale or a single client. Panic starts to set in. The fear of the unknown is scary. Do not dive into entrepreneurship without having a safety net (and I’m not referring to a credit card safety net) that you can live off if you have a bad month or two. Be smart, honest, and savvy. It may require working a part-time freelance gig to give you money to live off of while you are trying to build your business. Nothing is guaranteed in entrepreneurship and you need to plan ahead.
Be prepared for the challenges in entrepreneurship before you make the leap.
Wendi Weiner is an attorney, award-winning career expert, and Forbes Career Coach who has been featured in more than 30 major media outlets as a top authority in resume writing, LinkedIn profiles, and job search strategies.