While some people pursue entrepreneurship for the promise of wealth or leadership, others are more interested in the journey of creating and nurturing something. Either way, certain realizations about life, management and business come with the territory.
After a few years of entrepreneurship, regardless of whether you become rich or successful, you’ll walk away with a "wealth" of experience and knowledge that you can use in future enterprises, new jobs or just life in general.
These 10 realizations are ones that every entrepreneur has at one point or another:
1. Making a decision is always better than avoiding one.
When a decision has potentially harmful consequences, it’s easy to get intimidated, and possibly paralyzed by the choice. Experienced entrepreneurs eventually realize that in these cases, a decision -- even a wrong one -- is better than no decision at all, as action is always better than inaction.
2. The fear of risk is overblown.
Incorporating perceived risk into your decision-making is vital, as it helps you understand the possibilities for each potential choice. However, “risk” in general is not something to fear, and after making enough risky decisions, every entrepreneur learns this. Risk is just a complication for an opportunity, and even if things go wrong, there’s almost always a chance to make up for it.
3. You can’t control everything.
As the entrepreneur, you’re the chief decision-maker, and you’ll be far more in control than you were in your previous job. However, that control is partly an illusion; you can control only so much in your business. The rest is the product of random chance or factors beyond your control. How you react to those unforeseen developments will dictate your eventual success.
4. Work is life, and life is work.
The line between “work” and life” becomes blurred when you’re an entrepreneur, and “work-life balance” becomes difficult, if not impossible. Your business will become an integral part of your life, and work will start seeping into areas you never thought it could. The thing is, you won’t mind, because work won’t feel like work anymore. It becomes a part of you.
5. Data gets you only so far.
When you first start out, you may insist on making your decisions as logically as possible, using data to back all of your choices. This is a good thing, generally, but data can take you only so far. You’ll have to use emotional reasoning and rely on your instincts a little -- a realization entrepreneurs often have after their first year or two.
6. You aren’t the best at everything.
You may be in charge of the whole operation, but that doesn’t mean you know everything about all of your individual departments. It’s best to hire people who are better than you; for example, you should hire an experienced financial advisor to head up your accounting department. Find those people who are the best at the skills you lack. Surround yourself with them.
7. Ideas rarely turn out the way they were conceived.
Ideas are what drive businesses forward, but great ideas alone aren’t everything. Just because you cook something up in your head doesn’t mean it will turn out the way you imagined. Ideas are fragile, and unforeseen variables can prevent you from implementing them. The best entrepreneurs realize this, and work around those obstacles.
8. Motivation is everything.
This realization applies to the founder as much as to members of the team. If you’re motivated to solve a problem, there’s nothing that can stop you; if your team is motivated to solve a problem, they’ll solve it. The key is to find that motivation, and take action when initial solutions don't work..
9. Mistakes generally aren’t a big deal.
When you start out as an entrepreneur, you may be intimidated at the notion of making a mistake -- after all, even a small one has the potential to disrupt or compromise your business, right? However, most entrepreneurs eventually realize that mistakes aren’t generally that big of a deal. Instead, they’re learning opportunities that entail brief, conquerable setbacks.
10. There are almost always more chances.
No matter how many times you make a bad decision, screw up or let things go to hell, you'll almost always have more chances as an entrepreneur. You can take new paths and drum up new opportunities, and if things get really bad, you can start a new enterprise.
It’s one thing to read these realizations on a screen, and another to learn them firsthand. You can walk away from this article with a bit more knowledge and insight to the entrepreneurial journey, but if you really want to benefit from them, you’ll have to experience them for yourself.
If you feel the call of entrepreneurship, don’t let your apprehensions or inhibitions stop you from pursuing your goals. Jump in and enjoy the ride. And for help with that, grab my eBook, The Modern Entrepreneur: How to Build a Successful Startup, from Beginning to End.