Social media is amazing – the fact that you can reach thousands of people in a matter of seconds without ever leaving the house is unprecedented. It’s 2019, and things are changing dramatically right in front of our eyes.
Back in the 19th century, it was common that people would open shops in their small villages centred around one thing they specialized in. In a way, I feel like we’ve come full circle. Now, people start Instagram feeds advertising something they do really well – drawing cartoons, designing swimsuits, offering consulting advice. There’s a word for this kind of self-starting way of life – entrepreneurship.
In theory, being an entrepreneur can sound incredibly appealing to most of us. Being your own boss? Check. Flexible hours? Check. And yet, a ton of us don’t pursue entrepreneurship, and some may just not be cut out for it. Personally, I don’t think I could do it – I have trouble believing in things that aren’t at least somewhat guaranteed. You could call me ‘risk averse’.
I have been around a ton of young entrepreneurs though, and I tend to have a lot of them in my life, probably because I’m attracted to the traits they carry innately. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re considering entering the world of being your own boss:
It Can Be Lonely
Especially at the very beginning. While most people get the fruits of casual office talk and post-work drinks, you will likely spend the beginning of your career rushing from one meeting to another, or at home researching, developing or prepping for meetings – in other words, a lot of alone time. And your schedule can be all over the place too, which may lead you to miss out on special events or evenings out with friends. This is where it helps to have a business partner, who will understand your journey and obstacles better than anyone else could. Mentors can also help keep you grounded when you feel like you’re in over your head.
You Must Be Independent & Okay With Taking Risks
Nothing is more independent than starting your own business from scratch. Your own success depends solely on you, which brings up a few skills you need to have: self-discipline, because if you don’t put in the work, there’s only one possibility: failure. You have to be able to make the tough decisions on your own. You will obviously have mentors or friends you could go to for advice, but ultimately, the onus is on you. And the part of entrepreneurship that separates those who dream and those who do is the ability to take risk. I’m not talking ‘Fyre Festival’, delusional risk; I’m talking calculated risk (but risk nonetheless). High risk equals high reward.
Some take this risk by leaving their jobs to pursue being an entrepreneur, which for many is considered highly risky! Some invest thousands into developing prototypes or designs for their products; that can be considered risk. The fact of the matter is this that being an entrepreneur is always going to be semi-risky. You need to be willing to take than on.
Be Persuasive & Relentless
No one is going to believe in your business if you don’t believe in your business. You have to be relentless. You have to be persuasive. People have to trust you. You have to have a great idea. The business acumen will come with time, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have. When you’re looking for a tech company to invest in you, or for a department store to agree to sell your jewelry, you’re going to have to sell yourself, your brand, and your product. If you can’t, team up with someone who can. It’s very common for businesses to start with one brain and one talker.
You Have to Be ‘On’ Most of the Time
Even after your business takes off, you will most likely always have to be ‘on’. When anything happens, you’re going to have to take care of it. Being an entrepreneur, especially at the beginning, is not going to be like your peers. You don’t leave the office at 5pm and it’s like work doesn’t exist for the rest of the night. It’s a full-time job (like, real full-time) and you truly have to love and be passionate about what you’re doing, or you’ll end up drained and unhappy.
You Thrive, Especially When You Fail
Part of being an entrepreneur is thriving in the face of failure. I failed at something? Cool, here’s the next step.
If every entrepreneur gave up when they first failed, we wouldn’t have iPhones, we wouldn’t have Facebook, we wouldn’t have Disney, no Oprah…(see what I’m getting at here?). Learn to accept and be grateful for failure, because it means that you learned something.
I hope this gave you some food for thought on whether entrepreneurship could be for you, and if it isn’t, I hope that it’ll help you appreciate the precious self-starters in your life. Have a great week, graduates!