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Jan. 7, 2022

The Hard Reality Behind Building A Business

The Hard Reality Behind Building A Business

It would be looking through rose colored glasses to say that this whole 'running a business' thing will be all, well, rosey. 

It's not. 

Being an entrepreneur, running a business, being self employed- is hard. But as I heard my friend John Lee Dumas say, we get to choose our hard. 

I never appreciate the perspective from veteran entrepreneurs who gloat that this is easy. Certain days are easy. Certain weeks might feel easy. But, overall, this ain't easy. What those entrepreneurs who are chilling at the beach, with those rose colored shades protecting their eyes from the rays are forgetting is all of the discomfort that comes from this life that they might have just gotten used to. 

There should be a manual for each of us to study before we even think of starting our own business. Maybe I am starting one now, come to think of it. What do we wish we would have known, understood, prepared ourself for and been ready to deal with before we even started?

1- As noble as your vision is, and as much as you are in it to help, people will talk about you. They will talk behind your back. They will talk about you to your face (I prefer this version). They will say things to you that they would never have said if you were just 'working a job. 

2- Your friends won't support you. Get used to it. Expect it. Prepare for it.  The support you do get will be bonus. But if you go out to make it on your own, be prepared to get the cold shoulder from friends who either never had it in them to go after it, or from the ones who tried it but couldn't make it. Do you wonder why you get tons traction when you post on social media about your kids, your politics or your favorite movie but when you post something business wise, it's just not the same?

3- When you start, some (or most) of your clients will be friends. But don't be surprised if they turn out to be your worst clients. They will ask for discounts. They will expect you to work much harder for them than if they hired someone that they don't know. I don't know what it is about the alignment of the universe and whichever way the vortex is directed, but it's almost a universal law. They will him and haw, nickel and dime, push boundaries on your time. And then you will go to a store with them where there is no connection and they will overspend, have no demands and think nothing of it. 

The good news? Once you've moved past this stage of your friends being your clients and you've learned boundaries, it does change for the better. There is a reason why veteran entrepreneurs have a "We don't work with friends policy". 

4- Entrepreneurial anxiety is a real thing. I don't remember waking up at 3am as an employee except to wonder how the heck I can get out of the rate race of being a career slave. But as a business owner? It's happened more times than I can count. Did that post get scheduled? Crap, I forgot to respond to that message! That invoice still wasn't paid? Why did they not sign up when they said they were going to? Is it all falling apart? Will anyone even care about this?

These are real thoughts from real entrepreneurs. These are real thoughts that have woken up real entrepreneurs in the middle of the night. 

5- Until you know better, you will do everything. Remember at that job when you had a marketing department. Yeah, that's you. Finance Director? Yeah, you. Sales? You guessed it. You. Creative talent? It's so you. Everything else as well? You, again. 

So these are just five things. I can keep going. And going. And going. 

Maybe you are asking yourself this question. Why do all of this? It sounds awful! And some of this is awful. But that is why the business owner is a special breed. They went though this even though they weren't given this manual. They have lost sleep, lost friends, doubted themselves, wallowed in insecurity and been stuck in throws of depression. They quite literally have had days when they felt like their ideas were going to change to world and the next day sat on the end of their bed, with their head in their hands, questioning everything. And that was before the day got interesting. 

I really think future entrepreneurs need this manual. Maybe they would have stayed in our neurotic little club a little longer if they knew what was coming. We prepare kids for twelve years in school to be a good little employee for forty five years but give no preparation to this world of entrepreneurship. Because if they saw all of the bad stuff, if they were read for the challenges that awaited them, if they were hardened to the realities that come with this wild ride, they would be able to make it to the last page of the manual where there would only be four words. 

It's all worth it.