When I started my career over 30 years ago, I never set out to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to work at a big corporation and become the CEO. But, in 1988, the entrepreneur bug got me after I read “Growing a Business” by Paul Hawken. He describes having your own business as a magical dream. While I would characterize it differently, here are 5 things I wish other entrepreneurs would have told me:
1. It is lonely at the top. Yes, it’s cliché but that is what it feels like when you always have to make the final decision and bear the ultimate responsibility. You can get advice from a management team or an advisory board, but the buck stops with you. Remember: There are always upsides. When things go bad, it’s your responsibility. When things go well, you get to enjoy the profits.
2. They have doubt daily. For all the bravado, ego and beaming confidence, entrepreneurs daily have a crisis in confidence. They think – “what if I am wrong?” No amount of reassurance from customers, employees or advisors can quell this nagging fear. Remember: Every entrepreneur has doubts. An uncertain outcome is what makes the business so exciting.
3. They fear failure. As much as they say they value failure as a way to learn, they are scared when it happens to them and wonder if they will ever recover. Many times there is really nothing to learn from failure. Remember: When you do fail, learn what you can and then let go of it. This will give you another opportunity to succeed.
4. They are worried about going broke. They are constantly thinking about the financial risk they are placing on their family and the money they have borrowed to make this venture happen. They fear being penniless. Remember: Don’t bet the entire farm. Set limits on your personal investments so if the business goes bad, you will get a second chance to succeed.
5. Success can sometimes be a relief. Rather than celebrating success, they see it as temporary relief and are afraid to celebrate too hard (see #3). Remember: It is important to pause and celebrate the victories since that is what will be remembered the next time you fail.
What do you want to know before you started your business?