Everyone always talks about the amazing perks of being an entrepreneur and business owner. As an entrepreneur myself raised by two entrepreneurial parents, I’m no stranger to the sacrifices that need to be made in order to be successful.
My father runs a technology consulting company and my mom runs a New York based infant and child adoption agency. They’ve been entrepreneurs for as long as my memory allows me to go back and I’ve learned an incredible amount from them along the way. As I take on new opportunities and start my own online website guiding others on how to start a blog, I’ve realized just how much my parents sacrificed to be successful.
The truth is, life isn’t always “pretty” when you’re an entrepreneur. While others see only “perks”, there are definitely more than a few “ugly realties” that no one wants to talk about.
You can rarely ever “unplug”
As an entrepreneur, you must be willing to be “on call” 24 hours of the day 7 days per week. Even when you’re on vacation, your email will likely need tending to in some way or another. There will be times when you might need to be “plugged in” at all times.
Your paycheck is the first to go
Especially in the early days of your business venture, there might come a time when money is tight and you need to forego your paycheck to cover your personnel paychecks and other expenses first.
You’re always the first to blame
As an entrepreneur and a business owner, you’ll end up playing the scapegoat much of the time. You’ll need to be able to admit your failings even if you’re not accustomed to doing so. Sacrificing your pride for the sake of your business isn’t always easy to do, but it’s a challenge you’ll need to mentally overcome for the sake of being a successful entrepreneur.
You may lose friends along the way
Sometimes your business ventures include your friends. Or sometimes you become close friends with those you’re in business with. Whether they were your friends before the business or because of the business, there’s always a chance your relationship may turn sour.
Your social life will be on the chopping block
It’s hard to lead a completely normal social life as an entrepreneur. A few hours out with friends having a nice dinner or grabbing drinks at a bar is too long a period of time to go without checking your phone. Eventually, your friends may dub you as “that guy”, the one who can’t unplug, even for friends.
You’ll experience debilitating decision fatigue
Ever been curious why people like Mark Zuckerberg wear the same outfit every single day? It’s to limit the number of decisions they have to make. When you’re on top of the org chart and have an obnoxious number of massive decisions to make each day, decision fatigue can hit you with rather unforgiving weight. Things as simple as choosing your outfit for the day, or deciding what to eat for lunch can seem like “just another decision” that consumes your energy.
People will assume you’re incapable until you can prove otherwise
This rings true for new entrepreneurs especially. You’re guilty until proven innocent; you’re naïve until proven otherwise. Many people will never believe you have what it takes to succeed until they see you actually achieve that success. Though, that’s all the more reason to work harder…
You’ll need to learn to “kill your darlings”
Sometimes even ideas that may seem like your best and brightest at the time, simply won’t work. Either you don’t have the time or the resources, or there are too many flaws in your master plan. If your next great “idea” isn’t working, you need to be the “bad guy” and kill your darling. Unfortunately, these are often the hardest opportunities to walk away form.
People will try to convince you out of your ideas
For whatever reason, people even unrelated to your business ventures may name call or attempt to convince you to quit your antics and do something else instead. Entrepreneurship can often be scary and risky. People who have your best interest at heart may struggle to watch you wander down such a wobbly, unknown path.
You’ll have to hire slow and fire fast
Easier said than done, but incredibly important nonetheless. The onboarding process is one that requires a lot of time and thought. Bringing the right people onboard to your team could mean the difference between success and failure.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, a rotten employee can be hugely detrimental. Whether they don’t fit within the culture, operate too slowly, don’t have the knowledge or the know-how to get the job done, or you just don’t require their skills anymore, firing is never an easy part of your job description, but it’s certainly an unavoidable one. Fire fast.
You’ll face your own self doubt and worry
Others will doubt you, without question, but there will certainly come a time when you begin to doubt yourself. Perhaps your plan is taking longer than expected to execute. Or, perhaps you’ve run low on resources and are beginning to wonder if your plan will take off. Whatever your situation, there will highs and lows in your journey. Self-doubt is a natural component of the entrepreneurial rollercoaster. The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is the difference between who pushed through that self-doubt to fuel their goals, and who succumbed to it.
No matter the details of your particular entrepreneurial path, we all experience the “not so pretty” aspects of this journey. It’s important to remember that your project is your baby. It should be your number one passion, your number one goal. If you’re truly seeking success, you’ll be willing to work through these ugly realities in pursuit of achieving success. You’ll need to be willing to sacrifice everything short of your ethics, your morals, and your relationship with those close to you in order to make your dream a reality.
Eden Fried is a freelance writer and web designer. She recently abandoned her plan to attend law school and instead tapped into her entrepreneurial roots to found EdenFried.com, a website that guides individuals on how to start a website and blog. When she’s not at work, you can find her at the gym throwing around some weights or snuggling up to a good book.