Spot on observations....could add more to this list but this is a good start.
Great article and very true.
Thank you so much for this! It really made my difficult day so much better.
Having been an entrepreneur for the last 15 years I can add two points: 1. Working for yourself is the most rewarding thing one can do. The "highs" are higher and the "lows" are lower than working for someone/something else. Doing so is a "job" in the most pejorative sense. Working for yourself is a passion and, assuming you're a passionate person, getting out of bed in the morning becomes far easier.
Secondly, know your limitations. No one can do it all in any field. Get (a) partner(s) who share(s) your vision and values; they don't have to be compensated partners, but people on whom you can lean and in whom you can trust. To show you your blind spots and offer the encouragement you will need from time to time.
Great article. As someone in the second year of my own company I can attest to every one of your points :)
But I do love it. Here is another great article about the topic that complements this one well: Are You a Pirate?
I'd add a 12th: the very instant you whine about anything, it's Game Over.
Interesting. I do agree with observations.
Great article, very good reality check. Might be nice to see a balanced article of how the pain of being an entrepreneur can pay off.
As a serial entrepreneur I couldn't agree more with everything on this list. I wish I could send this around to every aspiring entrepreneur. Spot on list guys!
Nobody understands you, not just your friends and family. I had an idea 11 years ago to start a social networking site for college students and alumni. It's taken me 11 years to look forward to launching the site. I've seen sites come and go, and my site will be unique. The hardest part is finding other people to believe or help you build your product. Some of the best entrepreneurs or believers in an invention idea cannot build it themselves. You've got to find someone to help you! Check us out, follow us @freezecrowd http://twitter.com/freezecrowd
Great post Jason and definitely insightful. As a co-founder in a previous role for a .com startup, I can relate to the challenges you presented and the need to find strength during the rough, early days. Thx for writing this and it was a true pleasure meeting you as a featured Blogger during last year's World Business Forum. I wish you the best and keep bringing out the good stuff :-)
Thanks! I really needed this today!
Superb Article. I am still building my prototype and have already run into a number of these.
Go hard or go home!
12th Harsh Reality
Government will alway be in your way. Never fails.
A nice write-up. Thanks.
As an entreprenuer what I really face as of now is "Cash flow". I think every simple person like me who has passion to have his own company will have sufficient money to start a firm. I understand that ideas sell but at the same time money matters to churn the business and reach break even. I'm now setting up a knowledge based training & development company mainly focused on communication and operational skills. Since there are many firm like the one I'm starting right now I may have to be different with my approach to win customers. At the present time competition is a major challenge.
I've been working on Textfyre for 4 years. I've changed the plan and the product and the delivery mechanisms, but my overall vision is still intact. I seem to be getting closer to what investors want. I can taste. Now, if I can just keep the servers running a few more months!
Great list, Thanks.
The only thing I might change is the title from "Building A Team Is Hard", to "Team is Everything", been through a few startups and learned that lesson the hard way.
Your article is spot on.
I run a small CRM software company called Vigilus. My partners and I all work very hard to improve our software and provide support while doing all of the other "not so fun" tasks to run an organization.
Thanks for sharing this! Though these may not all be true in every case, every new entrepreneur will experience a few of them.
True, It is hard to understand what drive we have to own our own business. I love it but its the hardest thing I've ever done. Your life becomes your business and your social. You go home to sleep. What can I say I absolutely love it. Beth, beadrock.ca
Your article is a food for thought for all those that see the "glamour" of being an entrepreneur (no boss, schedule, the absolute liberty), which has nothing to do with the reality. One more thing: I think a former entrepreneur, if decided to work for someone else, is the ideal manager. I know the HR party disagrees, because in their books is written that you can not be motivated as an employee. What do you think?
Wow did this article resonate with me! Building my company iBeanInspired out of nothing has been the single biggest challenge of my LIFE! Sometimes when problems arise and things look pretty bleak the only thing that keeps me going is the burning desire to complete my mission which is to elevate the well-being and concious awareness of humanity. I am determined to BE THE CHANGE I WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD in my business as well as my personal activities. Last night I watched the movie "SOCIAL NETWORK" and it got me thinking why it was so easy for them and why it is so hard for me. This article put it in prespective for me boosting my confidence that is isnt because I'm doing things all wrong, it just takes time and a truck load of perserverance. Like Winston Churchill says, have a "Never Never Never Give Up" attitude and we will all succeed. Thank you for inspiring me to keep going!
Excellent article and points. Every aspiring entrepreneur should take those to heart.
Finally if you go through all this and still manage to get up with true spirit... Congratulations you are an Entrepreneur!
Great article! I am in the beginning (1st year) of my start-up and I have to admit that I am already confronted with most of the issues presented.
I think you really high all the high points (or is it low?) of being an entrepreneur. I think over the course of the last 5 years I've hit all 11 of them!
Very good points that kept me awake at night. Team is important but need to be flexible. those guys who you thought were in it for the same reasons always seem to have a plan B or C.
Loved this article! It's all so true, and I think we know all of this intellectually but articles like this serve as a great reminder to snap us back to these issues when we are drowning in the day to day.
I started my consulting business with one business model and target customer in mind. Almost 3 years later, that has completely morphed based on factors like: who has the budget, which clients do I actually like working with, and what is the most pressing need. You can't know these things in full until you just jump in and start providing something. I used to think this was a flaw on my part, that I didn't realize this. Now I see this is a natural evolution of any business model.
What hasn't changed for me is my brand strategy. This is what I help others do so it's nice that I walk my own talk! I can stay true to my brand and value even though my pricing, customer and services mix has changed. My brand strategy has been a true compass to help me make some of the business model decisions. That is why I wrote Branding Basics for Small Business to help other entrepreneurs and start-ups just like me. www.red-slice.com/branding-basics-book)
With a rock solid brand strategy, I was able to maintain the consistency of my offerings at a high level and not confuse the market while I fiddled and tweaked with the business model. That meant that all my initial marketing and branding efforts were not in vain as I evolved the business.
Thanks again for a great article.
Wonderful Suggestions when I'll plan something of my own I will observe and implement these suggestions..thanks for posting it.
What if you want to help change the world and just build something and you dont care how much blood sweat and tears is takes? Do I have the right starting attitude? Lol I'll be honest being a vet will definately help and I understand I don't know everything but if you wait to know it all you'll never start.
Bravo, I thought I was alone in the world. I agree with everything you said Jason. I have heard that if you don't have a 9 to 5 receiving a paycheck from someone else's company, you are not working. I am exhausted some days from having to deal with clients issues. It is like pulling teeth to get clients to commit. You can do 1 million things right and one thing wrong, and everyone is ready to call the attorney general, BBB the local news station and the list goes on. The never say well they did offer me an alternative.
So very true. All of it, especially the team stuff. Dealing with that stuff right now personally.
been there, and back there again ;) great list.
Thank you...today i was motivating everyone around me...when i left alone in the office i said to my self: mate, it would be so good if someone could motivate you as you motivate everyone else...email about your post came through one hour later
I do agree with all the points here. And reading this piece gave me the feeling of having written it myself. My first venture was successful for a while but then it had to be closed because my family did not accept what I was doing, I was not taking enough money home, My customers took their own sweet time to pay….
But having said that I believe that an entrepreneur is like a bull who will charge ahead and only two possibilities exist - he will either succeed or he'll fail. But unless there are a multitude of aspiring entrepreneurs who try and not make a success there will not be those few who do. So even a failure should not deter us because we are in many ways contributing to the success of others!
By the way I am now on my second startup. Even now my family does not like what I am doing, I am making less than what I was making in a job…
But I said something about being a bull.
And this time I know I am going to make a super success of my startup.
I wish all the entrepreneurs of the world luck. Microsoft was a startup not so long ago, just as IBM or GM or Ford and all the fortune 500 companies were at some point in time in the past.
One thing I've learned about starting my own business (My Custom Event Planner)is to be in a mastermind group. It is a group of business owners that help each other. Each person has a different point of view and strengths. It is great to get others opinions when making brochures, doing an expo, and learning from their experience what works and doesn't work. You can eliminate years of research and set backs by learning from others. It's nice to have your members of the mastermind group in other states than you.
What a great 1st of November post to push us entrepreneurs further and realise that no, we're not crazy, we're in fact driven, passionate and resourceful.
I second the not spending money on luxuries because it's an unnecessary waste of your hard earned money - or your investors and you certainly won't have time to enjoy them - yet.
You're too busy working on that thing you love.
Also the product not being right the first time around - timeless piece of advice.
I'd go further and add that will happen again and again and it's all a great learning lesson.
As an Entrepreneur of many years and a Business Lawyer focusing on representing entrepreneurs, I have seen all of the issues addressed in this article and experienced some. With regard to gathering people "smarter than you," an important key to success, is to gather a team of professionals (tax, legal, tech, etc.) early-on, who will focus on what they do best. This allows you to focus on what you do best, which is the purpose of your endeavor. Those professionals should be "smarter than you," and more experienced, in their particular professions, not necessarily "smarter than you" with regard to the combination of particulars that make-up your novel concept.
Also, when approaching potential mentors and other professionals for assistance with your novel concept, remember to require that they sign a comprehensive confidentiality agreement, before disclosure, and protect your hard work and other interest in the project.
Best of luck to all those who take the risk of starting a new venture and "live the dream" rather than simply "dreaming the dream."
Great advise when you're working at 3a, wondering if you've made the right choice.
Love what you said about there being no "silver bullet", I tell my media coaching clients that all the time as the wait by the door for the Lone Ranger.
Also, "one size doesn't fit all" is great to keep in mind when pitching a client. They want what they want, and they want it now! But, if you dig a little you find, they don't really know what it is they want. Someone just told them it would be a good thing for them. No choking the new prospect. :">
Keep up the good work,
Hollywood, CA USA
Great article! So true, and so timeless.
My thoughts on the entrepreneur lifestyle:
Stop dreaming and start doing. Do it because you love doing it, because you love the game and all aspects of it. Learn to adapt and quickly let go of your own pride because a business is a team effort. Be stubborn when you have to and do not quit.
A headline that I think could fit in is "Temtation". Not exactly a "harsh" reality, but a product stopper.
The road from idea to prototype to startup to team to product is a very long one, and it is one with no certain end. It is impossible to decide if it is time to give up and move along to the next idea.
For every milestone you reach, for better or worse, you will get better and better offers from other companies. Job offers or consultancy hours to help them with their business development. This is very time consuming, but recognition and a tap on the shoulder is always appreciated when you are deep in the grind and survival. No one will understand why you let these offers down to continue with your startup.
For each small success you will get press, and you will get invited to all kinds of social networking events where you will get your share of fame. Even though you have not released anything yet. If this gets to you, you start drifting away from the daily grind for the short injection of public esteem.
It is not exactly a "harsh" reality, more of a pleasant one. But if you are serious about getting you product out there, you should know why you are doing what. Turn the job offer companies into potential partners or future clients. Turn the networking and public events into your marketing strategy to build public relations with your future product or business.
See the offers as recognition that you are doing it right and see the public relations as something you do for fun.
My two cents.
Great list as I am 4 months into my startup company. Need to add one more-technical admin. Don't let anybody tell you that all computer systems are created equal-esp Mac.
Please remove me from the email list.
I would add that you need to celebrate your triumphs to keep you going during the low points....
A friend of mine is an engineer, and he said he wanted to be an entrepreneur one day. Smart guy, but then he starts telling me about his 10 year plan. I told him if he wanted to start his own business to throw that out the window. I'm a day to day person because I don't know what tomorrow or next week will bring. In my opinion, faith (especially in a higher power) is a must.
Totally agree with these points:)
All painfully true, but we must also remember WHY we do it. It is about waking up every morning to limitless potential. It is about using expansive creativity that one can constantly apply to the real world. Being an entrepreneur is like engaging in a war where you must have both sides win. It is an ultimate mental challenge, requiring a combination of vision, social intelligence and common sense. There's nothing quite like it.
Thanks for this. I really needed it today.
Once you have experienced startup on your own skin you know how tricky it is. Some days it seems like you working for taxman , council and landlord only ...
Great points.. It's a brutal uphill battle for the most part.. No time for a social life, friends, family.. But it beats the hell out of a corporate job! I've been self employed for 18 years and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! Stay focused and do your own thing!
Just joinend the group and I don't regret it. Seems to me I just had great support from a professional coach ! thanks ! spot on !
Great article! It's always comforting to know we aren't alone with our problems. I too could add a few things to the list, but each business and business owner is different. I miss the TEAM environment and find being a business owner can be lonely at times. It's the hardest thing I have ever done, but there are rewards. I am hoping one day it will get easier, but until then one battle at a time and stay focused.
There is something I call "The Second 90 Percent." When we say, "I'm 90 percent done" I reply and say "Now all you have to do is the second 90 percent." No matter how much you have achieved or how close you are, there is always more to be done.
Love it! The comment about "family and friends not getting what you do" is sooooo true. LOL
Some very good points in this article - as someone in their first year of business, I can identify with quite a few of them!
Computer forces outside of my control have left this entrepreneur at a virtual stand still. *sticking my tongue out at Outlook for its bad behavior*
Even with all the challenges I just can't picture myself working for someone else again!
Straight on! It's not easy running a business. Building and having a team is important, because an adventure like launching a business will require more than one person.
As an entrepreneur, my first set of ideas may not be products or services that's appealing for my targeted customers.
Rather, I use my initial ideas to serve as a pathway for extensions to my current product / service offerings.
But there are certain aspects about running a business that you shortly learn how to manage like designing postcards, editing websites and marketing.
There's never a dull moment, but it's better than sitting in a cubical all day getting absolutely nowhere.
Great article. Your points are straight forward and spot on. Thanks for not glamorizing the issue.
And with all that, the #1 quality you must have is perseverance, very well defined in dictionary.com: "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement."
Great blog! Thanks for the reality check.
These are spot on. I can't believe it, but I think during my start-up, we have hit upon each of the realitys listed. Great post!
Personally I don't think this was all that great to be frank. Most of these were hit on too soft and are rather obvious. I feel like most of these articles are too optimistic and rose colored even when being critical. Like most of you have been through the process (as a founder and a partner) I watched the recession shrink my niche by 91 percent and obliterate a business we spent 8 years building into the regional market leader. Being the last one standing has been nothing but painful.. I would like to see more stories about all those that got close, the pains, the costs, and the lost opportunities that finally arrived when the google idea did not turn into google. I personally feel like being an entrepreneur is often confused with a sole proprietorship or small biz.. being an entrepreneur is incredibly risky, costly, and I would bet for most people takes a decade of their life in pursuit of a dream that is usually overstated or unattainable. The obsession reminds me of Moby Dick.
I am working on multiple businesses
and have been a business owner in one venture or another for 15 plus years. While I agree with some parts of this article, I would also encourage balance to the good sides of ownership. The film Parenthood shows the ups and downs of being a parent and in that movie there is a part where the old gramma says she always liked the rollercoaster over the merry-go-round. Not really off topic. I think a great creative owner is one that thrives on that rollercoaster. Sometimes we just have to remember the highs when we hit those lows, because they can be so drastic but are such amazing experiences, would I trade them? NO WAY.
Great article! I have founded 3 companies and have had one exit. Ultimately, it comes down how deeply you are committed and inspired about your idea/company and how valuable it is to as many people as possible. Persistence, perseverance, passion, with a touch of humility and open-mindedness can go a long way in building a strong foundation for your masterpiece. Rock on entrepreneurs! You are the modern-day heroes of the world!
That's the harsh reality of being an entrepreneur. It's not all about success, it's win-some, lose-some but at the end of the day when balancing your books, the wins far outweighs the lose.
My personal challenge has been retrieving payments for jobs done - only noticed recently that's a major setback to dealing with businesses. They put you on this quarter-payment this that etc.
But then the key to winning as an entrepreneur is always having the end in focus: On the last day of your life, the many employees (direct/indirect) who's life would have been touched by you. The many hearts that will be forever grateful for jobs you provided and how you helped make their journey through life worth it.
Cheers fellows! Let's move on and conquer not only the business world but our fears and doubts.
Every word is true. Murphy laws are universal.
It's not all gloom though when you're part of it. Life is a struggle, and that's what makes it fun.
Good article thank you. I'd suggest that a good vision can be the antidote to many of these things. What future are you trying to create for yourself, see it, feel it then do everything you can right now to make it happen. Our aim atwww.clienteerhub.com
is to "share the how of customer experience". Every entrepreneur has customers, learn to look after them.
I love the comment about the second 90 percent. I think it could also be said that when you think you're 90 percent done, you're often only 50 percent done, you just don't know it yet!
It may be obvious, but don’t overlook the massive amount of personal time that is involved. I founded my company when I was 35 and I had a wife, kids, a life… Then the company came along and everyone around me sacrificed. Fortunately it all worked out, and I (we) had a successful exit. Everyone is now better off for the experience. But it was a fantastic learning experience for everyone, especially my kids. I hope this inspires them to start their own business someday. But never underestimate the amount of personal sacrifice that is involved. Looking back it was worth every minute that I (we) invested.
I couldnt have explained it better. 101% true, and in details too!!! Great post! :)
Man, did I need to see this today. So spot on. If I had a dollar for everyone who told me to go back to Corporate America, I'd have all the funding for the next phase of my business already :)
And on the janitor comment, I'll never forget the day my one part-time employee was emptying the trash and he turned to me and asked when I was going to buy real trash cans. My response: "Why spend money on trash cans when an empty box will do just fine?" A year on, we now have trash cans but he still uses his empty box primarily!
Great article. Right on spot.
I would add another point to this:
* Be ready for emotional roller coaster: More often, you will experience high and low emotions on the same day. This makes you emotionally resilent and over the course of years you turn from "always die-hard optimist" to "cautiously optimist". This one life lession from entrepreuneship is good enough for people to jump into it..
JB - thanks for the words of wisdom, taken me a while to find my rhythm, but year two into my start up and it is all clicking into place. To me the hardest part has been the reminder to self to work on the business and not 100% in it! Got to stand back.
This is exactly what I need to read now. I am preparing my own company after 12 years practicing with other firms. It is a big adventure for me, I am very excited to go for it, this is a good reminder for me at right time. Thanks a lot,
Adele said: Got to stand back. Very good point!
Here is a great LinkedIn group that can help you with item number 10!! (building a team!)
Hope to see you there!
Excellent article! I can definitely relate to each of the 11 items mentioned. Now to answer your question:
What are some of the harsh realities you have faced as an entrepreneur and what have you done to overcome them? Leave your responses in the comments.
1. Be prepared for emotional roller coasters in personal and business life, as there is not going to be any Regular Paycheck coming in.
I just remembered that in one of my articles, I had covered some points. Instead of writing all over again, I will provide the link and I invite you to check it out at
I look forward to your aticles and thank you very much!
Wow, much thanks to those who spoke from the heart on their experiences. Being a rather young entrepreneur I gotta say I have many thoughts about all the different paths I can still take, what I want to do, where I want to be, and how I might be able to do what it is that I think I might want to accomplish in life. Do these sentiments seem familiar to anyone else here lol? I think one thing that we can all agree on is that in life things often will not go according to plan...in fact I find that they never do. If you wanna get something done, whether it be buying a car, meeting a nice lady, or simply getting in better physical shape you gotta be fixated on it. This, no doubt, applies even more so to being an entrepreneur.
I propose a notion that Often we are all DELUDING ourselves. Is our product/service really all that special? Maybe if you could put an ad out to everyone on the planet who might be interested in your service you'd be a millionaire by-the-numbers. I offer that This is often not what pushes people to the cusp of achieving an initial surge of growth. Besides the five areas that you have to must cultivate expertise in (early on): Finance, Customer Service, Operations, Marketing, and Strategy there has to really be a sense of urgency as to how you're going to get your customers (and even non-customers) to market your service for you. I think that if any micro business is going to get to the next stage...you have to master crowd sourcing.
Kudos to Jason Baptiste for writing this article. It may be lean, but that just means more people will be able to digest the overall message(s). It got my attention and I was eager to see what others had to say. On a final note, being an entrepreneur seems to me to be a process that is fraught with negativity and clouded by frustration. After we all make it out of the storms that we're in now we'll all see sunnier days.
Its really nice article.I am already gone through all these 11 things so I understand how difficult to manage our entrepreneur dream.
Its really nice article.I am already gone through all these 11 things so I understand how difficult to manage our entrepreneur dream.
Mahesh Chimankar Infozshop.com
A good list of some of the common problems faced by entrepreneurs... can add a few like issues of retention, managing a much larger group later on etc. - issues that become bigger as you get closer to your destination etc.
Very nice article.These are the realities that an entrepreneur should be aware of. Sir, you have been a role model for so many of us. Its really special to read those valuable thoughts from a man who himself is a great entrepreneur himself.Hope to read more of such articles in near future sir.
I am sure that are a lot more than 11....
I had to give up my business because I was reluctant to give up my job.
A nice and concise way to say things where most of the start up enterpreneurs can relate to.
By this article i remember the bhagavad gita line which i think every entrepreneur should read daily:
"Karmani ave adhikars te. ma phalesu kadachana ma karmaphal hetur bhoo ma sangostu akramani".
thanks! Useful Information,
Good points that I've come across from many. A few words of wisdom that Fadi Ghandour of Aramex had on the subject are work adding:
So true! Been there done that!
Jason, you captured it 100%. Great article.
All true and I completely echo. In my personal experience two things are very critical given all this is happening around
1. Learn to let go sometimes / somethings
2. Don't screw up your health
Nice article. A snip of the same actually was printed in the Entrepreneur magazine in India last month.
So profound,i have been through most of these and still encounter some of it to date,getting into my 3rd year of my start up and its not been an easy road.Good luck to everyone planning start up,very rewarding but lots of hard work and sacrifices along the way.I could write a book on my experiences.
Good points all - A few points I thought I would add as a three time entreprenus (first was in College and the last two back to back 06-08),
Be careful in your choice of co-founders / promoters (in my case, HR and Finane guys) who see a good thing and then proceed to screw it up in their quest for control as meetings with VCs generate interest and multiple term sheets.
In terms of actually building a niche / tech product, you should team up with people who can share the workload and can really contribute to the roadmap, design, UX etc - this is not a "social club" to get friends and family into the action regardless of their ability. You can always hire the marketing, finance and support teams later. Retain a top tier CA and Lawyer !!
All this is very true and if i had read it before I started it would have probably not started up at all :) But having been through this, I admit, it is sadly true and all i can add is that you got to be a true leader to be successful in life. and leaders lead from the front.
mittal - 09650577300, New Delhi - India
It helps to know that all the things that happen , happen to entrepreneurs in general, and we thought it s a ''why me'' kind of situation , looks like hardships actually add to the fun,(like some adventure sport) when you think back , but not always pleasant to go through.
I'd like to add '' Corporate Loneliness'' to the list. No matter who you are what you do, when you are starting up (especially on your own) makes you feel this disconnect from friends,family and generally everyone else who cant see or understand the vision of why you do what you do, but are only judging the situation for what it is at the moment, as an outsider. I have found your personal world just shrinks.
Super article, I can completely relate to all these points!!! I suppose the key is really not to give up at the end of the day!
Thank you for sharing the article!
A must read for entreprenuers.
Another candidate for 12th harsh reality: "If you give in to these eleven harsh realities, you're dead in the water."
I nodded through the whole article - yup, yup, it's all true. I've been an entrepreneur my whole life, and had my own company for 16 years - there is no other path for me and I embrace the challenges every day!!
Very, Very accurate... Could not agree more, spot on..
I have been growing my company since 2007 and i must confess.. it aint easy and all these advice is absolutely spot on..
Lucas- HanA International - Power Plant Solutions.
As an entrepreneur I find that staying passionate about what I do and keeping realistic about my expections help me through the struggles. Thanks for the great article as it does help to have validation that others experience the same challenges.
This is simply the best ans most accurate list on this topic that i have ever read! I also thank you for being realistic yet positive in your message. Those of us starting our own companies know how hard it is, so it's great to be both validated and get a boost.
like it will spread it
Ground observations and very well observed..There are more to add..
e.g. In early phases, the business would require spot solutions. You would have no time to think relaxed.
I've been a long time reader of your blog (since the early days of reddit when you sparred with PG) and would like to get in touch. How may I do so?
Thank you so much for this article. I am a new practitioner in the health and wellness field. I needed to hear this. It is very encouraging!!
As a start up myself of only a few months I can attest to this emotional roller-coaster. Luckily the finding co-founders/team was the easiest part ... everything else really does take time.
The 2 points that really stood out for me where I am at is:
Expect everything to take twice as long and
There is no such thing as overnight success
An outstanding article. If one wonders why we entrepreneurs continue to do what we do in the face of these harsh realities, it makes sense to think about the mindset that actually wants to take on all these challenges and attempt to triumph despite long odds. Clearly it is not just about money.
Thank you for your succinct and insightful work.
As an entrepreneur of 15+ years and currently own 3 businesses, I can certainly agree with your 11 or so observations.
I must add, the biggest challenge every entrepreneur will have is conquering/changing ones own bad behaviors. We are own worst enemy. Become a great leader, you will build a great business. Great businesses have a vision, strategy and great people.
Eric Brown, CEO
Yes, I must agree with this article. It is spot on and really lets you know that you are not the only one. I am Co-Founder of my second business and it is the same hard work as my first. But I also had the amazing experience of when it is good.There is no equal for owning your own business and watching it grow. There is much written about Venture Money invested and companies sold out for millions. Thank you for sharing the realies of what it takes to get there.
Was just chewing on some of these issues myself , womdering wneh it will all fall in to place and thinking -not in the near future buddy .well I know now -buckle up .
Nice observations. We are 1 year into our e-life and I can agree with all the 11. It is a tough story and I don't know the climax. But, one thing is for sure - if I have to do startover again, I would still be an entreprenueur.
Inspite of all the harsh realities, the entrepreneur community is guided by an often faith - a spirit that leads us. We could end up having less money than our peers, but none of us could complain that our lives were less interesting.
The last point is the key. About 90% of is not controlled by you. The more you understand this the better you can decide what to do next.
Very well written indeed. I have and am experiencing all these. But it definitely is rewarding.
Excellent article, an eye opener and thought provoking. Thank you
Can relate to these issues. Very well written !!
Key people losing faith in the idea and leaving and key deals that you are itching to do break or do not work out!!
The fun is that there are so many moving parts, there is so much excitement !!
This is a great article. Especially the point concerning outside forces. As the owner of a small retail business, the current economy has been a killer. Just when things are looking good, people stop spending money, because they have very little spare to spend. I need to be reminded every so often that it's not something I'm not doing, it's just something I can't control.
I couldn't agree more with your comments. I'm about 18 months into BluHorn LLC, a media buying software company and have lived each of your realities. A strong and trusted support team has helped me through many of these challenges. It's a roller coaster journey but worth every minute!
This is a truly excellent article. Sent it to my whole mastermind group and I think I'll put it up in the office.
Team is everything. And also important is having a mastermind group (as someone above mentioned).
I agree with all your points 100%
The part about building the right team and the part about being the janitor even though you are the CEO/Founder...
"Your First Iteration of an Idea Will Be Wrong"
For me it was the other way around. I wanted to start a software product based company in the first place but after 2 months we landed a big service project. We took up the project and our entire mission was diverted and I regret till this day that decision. Software Company
very realistic one..
to know about the IP needs for a start up, rad the article below:
“Intellectual Property protection provides business and competitive advantage to a company. While IP is important for all companies, its value for A Start Up Company, especially, a technology or knowledge based company, is very high. In addition to providing business and competitive advantage, IP can play a very important role in enabling a Start Up company to build business relationships, raise funds, face cut throat competition and so on. In the light of the value that can be derived by a Start Up company from IP, its protection and management is very important………. To read more please visit: http://www.sinapseblog.com/2009/11/intellectual-property-ip-for-start-ups.html”
Also people have to realize that execution is in my opinion the hardest about being in business.
Great idea but poor execution will kill your bussiness
These points are timeless and so true. Nothing will seem to work according to plan at first because there are so many frustrating issues to be handled. The important thing is to be prepared to work through it (for little money at first) and work with the right people.
I think every would-be entrepreneur should read this article!
An absolutely BRILLIANT piece! Thank you.
Morris Chang, CEO of TSMC:
"Without Strategy, Execution is Aimless. Without Execution,Strategy is Useless."
Well said. My number one lesson to anyone starting a company, "Don't die."
focus is the most important one.
Dont lose it!
Interesting article. I would add that you need to have an exit strategy as well even though you think is far out and might not be one of your top priorities because eventually you will either shut it down, go through and M&A or IPO.
I think that most bootstrapped entrepreneurs would agree with everything you've written. The two points that jump out most to me are the janitor title, which is dead on, and the fact that you simply can't do it all on your own. If you hope to build a successful company that scales, this is absolute. Great piece!
I guess another challenge is not have principles and to adhere to them.It only seems that a company of two-five staff does not need guidlines, brand book, or experience record. In fact, start behaving like a corporation (i.e. be strick about branding, unify your voice, put data into CRM, etc) and one day you'll become one!
This is so true! Thanks for posting, it makes me feel better! I left a 6 figure income to run my own business and people looked at me like I was crazy. Not only that, I haven't yet made that kind of money I left behind. BUT, I am very happy and enjoying the process - I have learned alot and especially enjoy the people I have met and new friends I have made. Can't beat the relationships!
Talking from experience - TRUE! Started with no $$,no support,nobody who morally supports at least, no recognition, no acknowledgement...
Nice post - I've found that you need to find your passion and pursue it with perserverence...by the way, family and friends never seem to get it.
So true. I always say there is no silver bullet, you need a holster of bronze bullets. Here's a quick post I wrote on using your <a href=http://flotsampicnic.com/2010/11/using-your-five-sense-to-build-your-sixth-sense-about-your-company/>five senses to build a sixth sense about how well your business is going
Building a business is tough. No doubt about it. I've learnt the hard way about the first idea not working out, but the experience I gained from it was invaluable. Smart Company Software
Nice article Jason. I think it's important for startups to be flexible and adaptive as well. Starting a business is not easy in most cases and we have to learn to change with the times (trends, economy, etc.). Product/service development, incorporating customer feedback into product designs, etc. are good ways to do so. Meet clients' needs effectively and they will almost certainly come back--and at the very least they will tell someone else about the service they received.
I agree. And I think there is more than one way to success, so what works for one, may not for the other and so on..... similarly, an idea may sound good on paper, but one should be flexible enough to be willing to make the changes as per market needs, for the idea to be a succesful venutre......
That's really great and I strongly agree with all of the points.
Keep up the posting, that will help MANY start ups around the globe.
I love this post! Great information, and I related to all of it.
This is really good points and I am seeing it all the time. I was not sure it is just for me or for others but now I know, that's the pain everyone has...
Love your post :) Starting a business is as far I am concerned never easy. It's like a tennis just in business there is no one ball coming at you. Instead, many many balls from all possible directions coming at you and it's up to you to choose best path.
Personally, I'm one of those people who think that they can do all by themselves. It's not because I want that, it's because sometimes, as like in start there are no financial goods to pay for workers so you gotta do all of it alone lol :)
Great article. I would like to add that I see too much focus on organization and structure and not enough on product development. Maybe because that alone is the area of the entrepreneur and cannot be put in an article.
What you can put is this: you have to be a fanatic about your product. That does not mean rigidly pushing your first idea, but continually molding the idea until it is something people want to buy.
Marketing is important, team is important, but if you can (survive long enought to )get to a really good product, marketing and team can do their jobs.
As a small company, you can only compete on product, not name recognition.
Here is a blog I wrote about Kaizen for product improvement:
A rule of thumb: If you think hiring a professional is expensive ... wait until you hire an amateur!
It's funny, even with all the "harsh realities", if you ask any entrepreneur if he or she would choose to go back to a day job, the answer would be "no". The benefits far outweigh the harsh realities, and once you've been bitten by the entrepreneur bug, it's hard to go back. Great post!
I have come across a Resource that I think will be super helpful to all who are Start-ups. It is a FREE Resource that I think is really helpful. This is an email I sent to the person who generously shared this with everyone.
Thanks for your genorosity. It is a surprisingly quick read, but packed with No-Fluff Zen like Wisdom. I really enjoyed reading it and would like to congratulate you on distilling your thoughts into such a powerful package. I will keep it as a trusted advisor.
The relevant URL is http://blogs.jobdig.com/wwds/2007/12/10/a-complete-list-of-100-attributes-off-people-who-start-companieshow-you-can-be-one-of-americas-entrepreneurs/#comment-116067
Believe me - I have read a lot of stuff on Entrapreneurship - and this is in the top 5% of the lot.
As we are all lone warriors fighting the fight that only we ourselves understand - it is good to read something from someone that gets it and then feel the "ahaa" nods from everyone as they are leaving the comments behind - I have started a few in my day - some have had a good run and some have - well no need to go there lol.... one thing i realize today and i would add to any list out there ...
Make sure that what you are working on and doing is really going to help people ... it is important that not just we ourselves think that we are being the best thing since sliced bread to the market but that others we know give us the kind of feedback that lets us know we are on the right track - like others have mentioned ... ignore the naysayers but pay close attention to the folks you are intending to help with your product / service - the ones whose life will improve once you are launched.
Great post the topics are spot on especially "Your First Iteration of an Idea Will Be Wrong". I offer look back at my old version from a few years ago and wonder how I thought that would work. :)
Amen on the Title Means Nothing. I own my own brokerage and I still smile when someone peddling diet pills gives me a business card with "President" on it.
i agree with your points. A lot of people usually hear watered down versions of success stories and think they can simply jump into the swimming pool. I've been learning from experience and I think you go straight to the point. yep...
Says it all!!
About # 2, not only will your friends and family not understand you, they will actively seek to sabotage you. It's incredible the number of 'experts' one finds whose sole contribution has been to punch some other entrepreneur's time clock all their life. 'Never a profit in one's own land'
First suggestion: Make yourself a large sign and place it where all can see:
“Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way … AND SHUT THE HELL UP!”
Second suggestion: If you're an inventor (especially if you're an inventor), watch – nay, study - “Flash of Genius”. It should give you lots to think about.
Its ironic how when you have an idea you are convinced it will work... you plan, plan, plan even do research, then it fails? "Your first iteration will be wrong" - i like that. try and try again mate.
Its ironic how when you have an idea you are convinced it will work... you plan, plan, plan even do research, then it fails? "Your first iteration will be wrong" - i like that. try and try again mate.