Struggles of an Entrepreneur
There is something thrilling about working in complete darkness until 2 a.m., like being a crime fighting superhero …! So, to celebrate today’s 100th blog post (pause for a moment of “YAY”) I thought, what better suited than the topics of the life of an entrepreneur. Because if we don’t acknowledge our struggles … we can’t BEAT THEM!
Much of the assumed glamour of being a self-employed entrepreneur revolves around the aura of being able to do whatever we want. It is our company, we are the boss, and no one can tell us what to do. If we always know what to do, that is fantastic, but sometimes we do need input from others. Someone to bounce ideas around with. A second set of eyes or even a second brain.
With that thought in mind, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur …
Advantages of being an entrepreneur:
- We are passionate about our work.
- We decide our company’s mission.
- Our ideas are always the best and we have the final decision on everything.
- We can rearrange priorities at any time.
- We can set our own hours.
- We reap all of the profits (unless we have investors, of course).
Alright, then, what about the flip side?
Disadvantages of being an entrepreneur:
- We face financial uncertainty and take all of the risks.
- We experience occasional loneliness while working.
- We lack input from others to test or refine our ideas.
- We may face stress that leads to anxiety and/or depression.
- We may lose motivation, which can lead to discouragement.
- We often feel there are not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done (Okay, honestly, who doesn’t?).
Personally, I've learned about perseverance: when you hear the word 'No,' and when you hear rejection, that it's not always final. And that timing is everything, and you have to stay the course and just keep working hard and know that, when your time comes, that it will be sweet and that it will be the perfect time.
~ Angela Robinson, American film and television director, screenwriter and producer.
The downside can seem grim at times. Let’s look at how WE WILL BEAT THIS …
Taking care of our health: One of the first things we self-employed entrepreneurs must grasp is taking care of our health. We cannot get around the importance of eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. When we abuse our bodies, they will work against us. Face it, not taking care of ourselves is equivalent to abuse.
Writing down our professional goals: We acknowledge the importance of setting goals, writing them down and referring to them often. We set goals for the year, the month and the week. Our goals for the week determine our daily to-do lists. Without written goals, we may quickly become lost and may not even realize it.
Building a team and delegating: Being self-employed does not have to mean working entirely alone, even if we run a one-woman/man office. Behold the wonders of virtual assistants! As we pinpoint tasks that can be delegated, we find VAs who specialize in just those kinds of tasks. Often a VA is willing to broaden their menu of services in order to take on more of our tasks. In other cases, we find ourselves using more than one VA at a time, each for different functions. When we build a team, suddenly we have people with whom we can kick ideas around. Another form of team-building is to gather a small group of solo-entrepreneurs who meet periodically to discuss issues of managing our businesses. We can all benefit from each other’s ideas and experiences.
Networking with other entrepreneurs: Those not currently using Facebook may not understand, but we can find quite a few different networking groups for entrepreneurs on Facebook. Many groups are specific to a niche or field or to a target demographic such as women. No matter how we select our groups, networking with others in our situation can be extremely helpful.
Always knowing where we stand, financially: We keep a close eye on cash flow. We know what money is coming in and what is going out in the next week, the next month and the next two months. Ideally that knowledge can eliminate the uncertainty that drives anxiety.
Managing our time wisely … very wisely: Time management is everyone’s buzzword, sometimes given more lip service than true implementation, but when we tie it to our goals, it works. When we find ourselves stretched thin on tasks that were not on our to-do lists, we must ask ourselves, Is this bringing me closer to my goals?
Facing up to mental health issues: The day-to-day stresses of self-employment can lead to depression and/or anxiety, but we cannot be embarrassed to ask for professional help. Even someone who has never been depressed before can find the loneliness or stress of self-employment taking a toll. Financial uncertainty can lead to anxiety. As entrepreneurs, we go into this venture with our eyes open. We know, intellectually, how risky self-employment can be, and finances are a big part of that. Experiencing it first-hand can be a shock, though, as we come to understand the difference between entrepreneurship in theory vs. reality. Where do we go? Some find talking with a business coach regularly can help to keep everything in perspective. Others will reach out to a mentor, clergy or licensed counselor for help. While society still imposes stigma on discussing mental health issues, each of us who actively seeks help can play a part in bringing these issues into the light.
Nurturing our connections: We will not withdraw from our connections with family and community. We recognize the essential need to maintain and nurture human connections beyond those that are work-related. Sometimes even this can be incredibly stressful when we feel pulled between work and family or friends. Circle back to the prior commitment: Facing up to mental health issues. Often, we need an outside perspective to help us regain the work-life balance.
Avoiding burnout by taking time for recreation: Time for ourselves is critically important whether we find that by walking in the woods, bicycling or taking a cooking class. We refer to the benefits as recharging our batteries. Time for ourselves can mean time alone reading a novel, listening to music or working out. It can also mean going for a group bike ride, joining a dance class or cooking with friends.
Persevering: We. Just. Keep. Going. We get back up every day, find our touchstones, our reasons for doing this work, usually based in our goals. The source of our decision to be self-employed, to be entrepreneurs, is what drives us. The smaller goals met on the way to bigger ones mean more than we could have imagined they would. The thrill of completing a project, reaching a milestone, collaborating with new partners—all of these keep us going.
Yes, as entrepreneurs, sometimes we struggle and sometimes we have setbacks. Creating a viable business and successfully guiding it through hurdles as it grows and thrives more than makes up for the tough times.
Marie Curie expressed it this way:
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.
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