The illusion of ease and joy inherent in business, created by the social media and fancy articles about yet another unicorn can make you think that running your own business is indeed nothing more than funding rounds, fancy offices, huge and happy teams, 7-figure sums on the bank accounts, freedom, and fame.
The bad news is that it’s rarely the truth.
This is a fallacy that often leads to the devastating disappointments and the destroyed desire to ever do business. As soon as you face the reality, you’ll find yourself frustrated and totally demotivated to keep on going.
There is an integral part of every business success story that people forget about or even refuse to acknowledge. However, despite its harshness, this unnoticed part is where the foundation for massive wins is being established.
Your aspiration to found the next unicorn is great…as long as you understand clearly what it really takes to succeed in business.
Here are 5 harsh truth about being an entrepreneur no one told you before:
1. Business is not about freedom.
Embrace the reality. By escaping the 9–5 day job rat race, you are voluntarily entering the 24/7 startup rat race.
Are your ready to commit to a 168-hour workweek?
This is approximately how much you should be working on your project if you want to succeed.
Business is not about freedom as many would say. It is a major commitment that appears to be way more energy- and time-consuming thing than you have ever imagined.
Be true to yourself…
Can you really, honestly, commit to obsessively thinking, worrying, futzing, stressing about how to do The Impossible? Every. Single. Moment of the day — Jason Lemkin
The obsession and anxiety won’t let your brain relax. Ever. It is supposed to work every single moment — 168 hours a week, 8,760 hours a year.
2. It takes longer than you think to succeed.
The overnight success is a myth. Period.
No matter how viral your product or service is, it will take time to turn it into success.
Nothing worthwhile is going to be fast. Nor is building a business. Despite the stories about startups that managed to go from 0 to $1B in valuation in a few months, these are exceptions rather than the rule.
On average, it takes up to 24 months before a new business gets some traction. There is going to be a huge gap between your work and actual gains. And you’d rather be ready to fill it with patience.
It takes longer than you think to adjust your product or service to the market’s needs and spread the word about your solution. It takes even longer to build rapport with your potential customers and get a few loyal ones.
Make sure that you are not relying on the mythical overnight success. It will take from 12 to 24 months before you see some results. And you’d better be aware of that.
3. There is no such thing as alone genius.
Great ideas require great teams.
No one has ever built great things alone.
Admit the truth. Your brilliant idea is not worth a dime. In today’s competitive environment, no one cares about the ideas. Everyone has tons of them.
The only thing people care about is execution. They no longer want to listen to fancy presentations and pitches of your concept. They want to see its implementation instead.
However, when it comes to implementation, you are likely to face the natural constraints of own knowledge, ideas, skills, and time. Your idea requires a team to help you bring it to life.
The successful businesses can sometimes be associated with alone genius. However, there is always an amazing band behind every remarkable frontman.
Every successful company owes its success to hundreds or thousands of talented people that are rallied around one particular mission. Every thriving business owes its success to its talented team.
Every huge thing is a product of efficient collaboration. Don’t try to prove it wrong. Nothing worthwhile has ever been built alone.
4. There is no backup plan on the road to success.
Nothing is going to work out if you still keep a backup plan in mind, period.
If you still have some options, you’d rather not waste some precious time and give up the idea of creating something worthwhile. If you start a new business with the backup plan in mind, you will certainly fail.
There shouldn’t be any “I’m going to devote another month or two and then we’ll see if it works” or “I’ll give it a try but will also consider the offer I have in case if…”
This is not how the outstanding founders think and act. Despite the obvious risks, difficulties, and uncertainty, they are fully committed to the idea from day one till the very moment they achieve the set goals.
The point is that the great founders are not affiliated with risk. They are not the inveterate risk-takers. They simply have a different attitude: They do not see risks, they see opportunities instead.
Ditch your backup plan or don’t waste your time making some silly attempts to grow a business.
5. A successful business is all about sacrifice.
As soon as you commit to doing business, your life will drastically change. Your lifestyle is not going to ever be the same. Your values, priorities, habits, ambitions, and aspirations will take a whole different form.
Besides, you’ll have to sacrifice everything you like about normal life. Literally everything. Your comfort, steady income, dinners in the fancy restaurants, regular trips to the shiny resorts, long vacations… Everything. You are not likely to have or do any of those things within the next few months or even years.
Of course, the ultimate goal of a successful business is to provide you with the robust income stream, decent level of freedom, and the opportunity to truly enjoy your life.
However, this is not going to happen too fast.
Make sure to acknowledge that you will have to choose between the things you like and care about and the business. Unfortunately, the truth is that this the necessity of this choice is inevitable. You’d rather be ready for that.
While speaking at the New York Times Dealbook conference, Elon Musk said:
Creating a company is a very difficult thing. A friend of mine has a saying: ‘Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss.’ You have to do lots of things you don’t like. You have to put in incredible amounts of efforts and huge amounts of stress — and it’s much more painful than most people realize.
It’s crucial to be true to yourself when it comes to assessing the complexity of doing business. Don’t try to trick your mind by purposely distorting the reality. Don’t avoid the truth. Embrace it.