Although entrepreneurship in its essence is about startup—creating an opportunity and gathering the resources to make that opportunity a successful enterprise—it really is also a way of life. Once you’ve been bitten by the excitement of discovering an opportunity and creating and designing a new business, it’s hard not to see opportunity everywhere you look. But despite the fact that I’ve clearly drunk the entrepreneurial Kool-aid, I do recognize that this lifestyle is not for everyone.
And the reason it’s not for everyone? Because it comes with serious challenges—after all, the best things are never easy. I’ve come up with a list of challenges, but I’m sure that many of you could add to the list.
- Creating the right opportunity
- Working long hours, often without pay
- Dealing with uncertainty and high risk
- Needing to make major decisions that frequently affect others
- Relying on other people for expertise and resources
- Having no previous experience in this type of business
- Facing failure at some point (it’s inevitable)
- Finding the right people for your team
- Raising capital and other resources
- Dealing with a sense of isolation and disillusionment
It’s been my experience that most first-time entrepreneurs have no idea how difficult it is to create a successful business. They have no idea of the amount of self-discipline and perseverance they will need to apply to survive the first year. At some point, every entrepreneur feels overwhelmed with everything they need to think about, especially in the early stages when everything falls on the entrepreneur’s shoulders. Susan LaPlante-Dube left a corporate job to start Precision Marketing Group
out of her home in Massachusetts. Within a short time, she began to feel isolated—she had been used to bouncing ideas off her co-workers and didn't realize that when you go off on your own to start a business, you're really on your own! To solve the problem, she scheduled opportunities to meet and network, which eventually paid off in a thriving company and a happy entrepreneur.
If the challenges of entrepreneurship seem daunting, consider the rewards. Entrepreneurs become independent, able to take charge of their careers. Entrepreneurship is still the best way to create real wealth and potentially help others. It gives you work that you’re passionate about and a way to make a difference. If you want to try it, I suggest that you find a mentor who is leading the type of life you want and build up your professional network. Using Linked In
is great, but meeting people in person is better. Most communities and universities offer events where you can interact with entrepreneurs. Read the stories of entrepreneurs in magazines like Inc., Entrepreneur,
and Fortune Small Business,
or in newspapers like the Wall Street Journal
or the New York Times.
If doing all these things has spurred you on to think more seriously about an entrepreneurial lifestyle, then consider the skills you will need to have: creativity, critical thinking, resource gathering, time management, persuasion and negotiation, written and oral communication, leadership, decision making, and storytelling. If you’re weak in any of these skills, get to work learning how to improve them. I’ll tackle some of these skills in future posts.
All in all, I wouldn’t trade the entrepreneurial lifestyle for any other. To my mind, taking advantage of opportunity makes life exciting and new every day.