Don't Delude Yourself: 3 Things You Must Know Before Starting a Business
Starting a business isn’t easy, which is why you should anticipate the most common challenges head on.
A lot of people dream of starting a business one day. A lot of people talk about it and think about it, but not everyone takes the leap. Entrepreneurship certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you have an idea you really want to pursue or just really want to see if you can rise to the occasion of building a company, I think you should try it.
If you don’t execute on your idea -- someone else will -- and why shouldn’t it be you? Elizabeth Gilbert makes a very motivating point about this in Big Magic where she instructs people to have the bravery to bring their ideas into the world. According to Gilbert, ideas don’t belong to individuals. So if an idea can’t emerge through you, it will come to life through someone else. It’s a great case for being brave and seizing on inspiration.
Of course, just because you take the leap to start a business doesn’t mean you will be successful. Building a business is really tough, and the task is never done, which is a recipe for swift burnout if you’re not careful. That’s why it is critical to go into entrepreneurship with the right mindset and expectations that afford you some level of work/life harmony.
Reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey, here are three insights that can help you keep it in perspective when you’re first starting out on your own:
Your 40-hour work week is over. Accept it!
Lori Greiner from Shark Tank was so on point when she said, “Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.” That really sums up your time commitment to work because when you’re starting something new because it all ultimately falls on you as the owner. So don’t delude yourself: just because you’re your own boss now, doesn’t mean you won’t be working a ton. But of course, you’ll be putting in the work to build your own thing, which is ultra rewarding.
It’s going to be more expensive than you anticipate. But you need to invest in your business.
Every responsible entrepreneur takes time to budget early on. This will make you think you have an idea of the costs. But I am here to tell you that the costs you foresee aren’t the only costs you will incur! New financial commitments come up all the time, and while you don’t want to be reckless with money, you also want to invest in the right things to make your business a success. So just know that might mean spending more than you expect.
Your partner or family might seem like a great (and free!) resource. Tread carefully.
I see this a lot. Someone is starting a business and they rope their spouse or other family members into the running of the business. It’s easy to understand the temptation: your family loves you and is invested in your success, so they should want to help you. But it’s rarely, if ever, that simple.
It’s important to remember this business is your dream -- not necessarily theirs. You might love the challenge of running a business but it doesn’t mean that they will. I’d err on the side of keeping business and family separate, but if you decide to involve your family members in your business, do so deliberately and mindfully and be conscientious about working it out early on.
There is no doubt about it, starting a business will challenge you in new and interesting ways. But that doesn’t mean it has to make you crazy. So anticipate the challenges ahead so you can preserve your energy for the many unforeseen things that are likely to come up.
This post originally appeared in my work-life harmony column in Inc.com