While it may be one of the most used words in today’s day and age around the world and almost everybody aspires to be one, not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. Despite the hyped-up media glam, there is also a dark side to entrepreneurship. There really isn’t a one-size-fits all mantra and if you’re not prepared for it, it could be a nightmare.
We’ve spoken to a lot entrepreneurs over the years and one thing that is common among almost all of them is it requires a ton of input for very little output, if any at all – at least for the initial phase. We’ve all watched The Social Network and other similar movies, forget that, life is not a Hollywood script and very often it does not work itself out. The reason you may not know of the many stories of down fall is because only the triumphs are majorly highlighted. Consider these five, practical points before to find out if you are cut out for entrepreneurship.
Stop believing the myth of working for yourself
One of the biggest myths surrounding entrepreneurship is that you would get to work for yourself. While you may be the founder of your startup, you’re not necessarily your own boss and you’re practically working for a lot of other people. Startup entrepreneurs work for their employees, investors, stakeholders but not for themselves. If you’re trying to find out whether or not you are cut out for entrepreneurship you need to first understand that the attachment and accountability is heightened when you are one.
As an entrepreneur, presumably with even a few employees, you pay yourself last, you take leaves last and you are accountable for everything happening in your startup – which is why the previous point of donning several hats is so important.
VC firms and Angel investors bring valuable business expertise and mentorship to help you become successful. However, once you’ve taken capital or traded equity for anything you are answerable to them. Your investment team will even give you timelines for your ROI and your VC cannot even be fired.
Your business sense is nil
Being that most startup founders are young and the conditions are unpredictable, many do not believe they need to be informed of formal or traditional business theories and practices. Your product or service may be revolutionary in itself but if you’re looking to build a business around it you need to have business sense.
Have a clear plan to get started and keep strategies in place for tougher times. Clear doubts of how you’re going to get customers and how you’re going to generate revenue – your business model. These are some of the basic few questions that need to be sorted before you take the plunge into entrepreneurship.
You could do some reading to learn the business aspect of things. Try mapping out your contemporaries’ path and how they monetized their product. Meet financial experts to get an idea for how much capital you will require. Another alternative is to volunteer with a startup and shadow the entrepreneur leading it.
Still depend on a monthly salary
As mentioned, we have spoke to a ton of entrepreneurs, in some cases these entrepreneurs have not been able to cut a cheque for themselves for about two years. It may be a bitter pill to swallow but it is the reality of entrepreneurship.
One of the toughest things for an entrepreneur to wrap his head around is the fact that he may be working the hardest but may be paid last, if at all. When you have other employees, as a founder, you are obligated to them before yourself. In case you manage to raise a seed round of funding, for example, the Angel or investor putting money into your company, is most likely not going to appreciate it if you pay yourself with that money.
Keep an emergency fund ready for yourself for rainy days, income from entrepreneurship could be sporadic and you need to prepare as best you can.
Be willing to take on new roles
Many entrepreneurs set out on their business journeys thinking their specific skill-set is enough for their new company. If you think that just your web-developing or marketing or skills are enough you’re in for a not-so-pleasantly surprise.
It isn’t easy to wear multiple hats but it’s exactly what is required of entrepreneurs. As a founder, it isn’t enough to just know what to do, you need to know how to do it as well. A startup environment can be quite volatile, especially early on. Hiring and retaining someone to carry out certain tasks do not come with a guarantee so may need to step in to get the job done yourself.
Have a support-system but be self-motivated
Maintaining a good network of people is important to be a successful entrepreneur. They need to be supportive of you and that support usually begins at home. It is not necessary that your family needs to be in complete support of your motives but it is easy to see how it could make things even more difficult if they were against it. It’s very easy to make bad decisions, based on personal reasons when you’re not empowered by the people around you. The initial phase of being an entrepreneur may present a lot of rejection and failure, thus, having a few people to back you up could be of great help.
Having said that, you also need to be self-motivated in you endeavour to be successful. The start of your entrepreneurial journey could be very lonely and you might find yourself multi-tasking a lot. If you are not able to motivate yourself, especially when you just don’t want to, and think you need someone telling you what’s next – you are not ready.
Entrepreneurship requires a lot of risk in a volatile, dynamic environment and if you’re doubtful of handling it, stick to your day job. Having a business sounds cool and entrepreneurship provides freedom as well but not everyone can handle it. If you’re really looking to prepare, talk to someone who has already taken the leap of entrepreneurship.
Be honest with yourself and what you’re looking for in life and if you’re actually cut out for entrepreneurship. You may just need some time, so stick to your job and plan your startup on the side. Don’t rush to tackle your dream lest it turns out to be a nightmare.