8 hard truths about entrepreneurship

Successful entrepreneurs and onlookers are happy to write about the wonderful life of being self-employed – the freedom, flexibility, and so on. While all of these things are great, very few entrepreneurs also speak to the common challenges and early failures they experienced – knowledge that would give others a more balanced view of entrepreneurship.

Even if you are equipped for the challenges that await you, there are times when you will just feel uncomfortable and not know why. Here are 8 of the most common reasons behind the discomfort entrepreneurs deal with regularly.

 

1. Not having a steady income is trying.

You knew this going in. You even planned for it. You accumulated savings which were meant for this purpose, just so you wouldn’t be uncomfortable. Now, every time you dip into that reserve, discomfort washes over you.

This discomfort, of course, is based in fear, even though those fears are unfounded. You haven’t used up your reserve; your business is growing.
 You will likely experience sporadic income spurts and dry spells – you just have to plan for them. When you have those spurts, you put some away for the dry spells.

 

2. Becoming a leader is not easy.

You are now the founder and the buck stops with you. In the past, you had a boss to report to. Your decisions were reviewed and approved. There is no one now but you to answer to. It can cause some discomfort to realize you are responsible not only for your success, but for the livelihoods of your employees.

The decisions you make now affect others. If you let this gnaw at you, you may not take some risks that you otherwise might. The “fix” for this is to be a collaborative leader and involve your team in problem-solving and risk-taking. Making decisions as a group means that everyone has “ownership” in the outcomes.

 

3. Expanding your business is scary.

Every entrepreneur wants to scale their company, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Growth can be uncomfortable and painful. It’s easy to get comfortable with things as they are. Your profits are nice; you have loyal customers and pick up a new one every now and then; you have a great team; you are sleeping at night, and you have more time for friends and family.

Now you have an opportunity to scale , but here comes that discomfort again – that nagging that says maybe you’re not ready to expand your business. 
You’re in your comfort zone, and circumstances are trying to push you out. But you’ve been here before when you first made the decision to become an entrepreneur. Gather your team around and focus on the possibilities.

 

4. Saying ‘no’ often is uncomfortable.

We humans like to please people, at least most of us. We would rather say “yes” so others don’t get mad or disappointed. And so there may be some discomfort when you find yourself having to say “no” a lot.

Not learning to do this, however, can jeopardize your business. 
While you may never get totally comfortable with saying no, each time you do it, you will become more confident about your communication skills. Never say “yes” when you really want to say “no”.

 

5. Hiring and firing employees sucks.

Many entrepreneurs have never been in the position of hiring employees, conducting performance evaluations or firing people. They are very uncomfortable when conducting interviews, correcting behaviour, and most of all, when they have to let someone go. If you are uncomfortable with these tasks, acquire the skills you need. Ignoring your skills lack will only increase your discomfort.

 

6. Delegating means letting go.

When you first launch, it’s just you or maybe you and a co-founder or two. As you grow, you add to your team and will need to delegate some responsibilities to others. And yet, you may be very uncomfortable doing so.

It’s hard to let go. So, you micro-manage, or, worse, refuse to turn over tasks you should. You stay overwhelmed. 
Start by giving up one task you really hate that someone else could easily do and back away. Once you see that someone else can handle a task, you’ll be more willing to give up others.

 

7. Work-life balance is about prioritization.

This can be a “killer.” You feel uncomfortable neglecting your friends and family, especially on the weekends. But if you step back you spend time worrying about all of the things you could be doing for the business. This discomfort turns into feelings of guilt.

The first few startup years are the worst. And everyone needs to know this up front.
 Do simple things. Go out for pizza, a movie, drinks; or have a date night with your spouse, take the kids to the zoo, etc. It’s the little things that will give you a break and let people know you care.

 

8. Learning to pivot is a challenge.

When your business isn’t thriving you will feel uncomfortable about its future. This discomfort is telling you something important – you need to move on to a new idea or rework old plans.

 

Know that these eight situations will crop up and cause you discomfort. Also know that you can overcome them. Identify the root causes, think them through, and then take steps to remove them. Discomfort is normal. Not dealing with it can jeopardize your success.

 

This article has been edited and condensed for the DI, originally appeared on YFS by Ben Brychta