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Unexpected Challenges of an Entrepreneur

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I definitely had no idea that one of the stumbling blocks I’d encounter when starting a business would be my persistent inability to spell a single word. For whatever reason, I simply can’t  arrange the puzzle of  U’s, E’s and N’s in the word ‘entrepreneur.’ I get it wrong every time, but you’d never know, thanks to spell check. I know, it’s kind of sad.

Of course, there were more important challenges I could not have anticipated. I heard plenty about long hours and about having to be a little crazy. Those weren’t shockers when they inevitably hit, but three other things caught me off guard:

1. You are Your Only Limitation

This was particularly surprising, because I’d pegged it initially as a benefit.

Unshackled by others’ policies, direction and oversight, I figured I couldn’t be stopped. (There has to be some level of self-confidence, bordering on arrogance, to start something on your own). The reality is I have a very limited set of skills. If I don’t know how to do something, I either have to learn it or pay someone to do it.

That’s manageable most of the time, but paying someone per project gets expensive. It also means I need a crystal clear vision of what I want that person to do, and that vision hinges entirely on my own imagination. Most of the freelancers I hire either can’t or don’t offer the imagination that a team of employees working together can generate.

There are upsides to having total creative control, but it gets lonely and pricey.

2. Be Wary of Other Entrepreneurs

I only realized this a few months ago.

When I first had the idea for my project, ApplyMate.com, I devoured books, articles and blog posts about entrepreneurs. Learning about other people’s successes fueled my desire to build, to create, to turn an idea into a product. After a while though, I noticed a change. Instead of being driven to create and execute, I only wanted to read about others who’d done it.

Over time, reading about entrepreneurship became like reading fiction. I was able to live vicariously through the characters and enjoy their successes. But I didn’t do or create anything myself. Such stories satisfied my craving for success and sapped my drive to create.

I’m not alone in this reaction to start-up stories (credit to David Walsh at Muselife.com for helping put a point on it). It’s worth remembering during the early stages of launching something. If you can read stories for the occasional motivation, great. Want to talk with other start-up owners, pick their brains and exchange ideas? Fantastic. Just don’t let those stories and talks become a substitute for actually doing something.

3. People Don’t Care About Your Idea

Sorry, but people are just busy. (Or at least they think they are.) They have their own jobs, projects, bosses, spouses and kids to worry about.

Even though your idea was difficult to conjure up, you think it’s a huge deal and you’ve put tons of time, money and energy into it, most people simply don’t care. If you expect telling people about your idea to be like dropping an atom bomb of brilliance, you’re going to be disappointed. That doesn’t make people bad or inconsiderate by any means (please!). Everyone is just busy. Keep that in mind, and get over yourself.

Close family, friends and fellow entrepreneurs will care. They’ll be genuinely excited for you. They will ask questions, and will do everything they can to help. Those people are gold. Keep them close, because encouragement will likely be hard to find on a regular basis.

Of course, a post about the challenges I experienced launching my own business is going to have negative undertones. I hope this helps some readers foresee some of the difficulties that might be in store. But it’s also worth noting that in my experience, the good — which is the great deal of satisfaction I feel for starting my own business — has greatly outweighed the bad.

Regardless of your business or idea, take the good with the bad. In fact, be prepared for both.

Tim Murphy is Founder of ApplyMate.com, a free web app that helps you track and manage job and school applications. He also blogs regularly at ApplyMate.com/blog.

Interested in becoming an entrepreneur? Check out these great networking and webinar events happening next week on Brazen Careerist.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com Greg

    I started my own consulting business 4 years ago while working full-time and with 2 kids. Since then, I’ve QUADRUPLED my salary, work less, and have a lot more flexibility.

    Along the way, I found that creating a supportive network of other entrepreneurs and setting up a structure to be productive is the best antidote to losing steam and failing. It’s nice to talk with family and friends about your dream and what you’re working on, but chances are that they won’t understand and won’t be as interested as other entrepreneurs. Creating a mastermind group of other like-minded people can really propel you forward and keep you energized.

    I’ve found that fear often stops aspiring entrepreneurs from starting their business, and on my blog (http://www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com), I talk about how to overcome those fears. I also talk about practical, concrete things you can do to start and run a successful business, along with tools, tips, tricks, and techniques for automating your business and keeping costs to a minimum.

    Most importantly, just start someplace and do something on your business each day. The more you do, the that you’ll find that things will start happening (i.e., the harder you work the luckier you become).