When you think about starting a business, whether that’s a brick-and-mortar retail store, a restaurant, or an online shop, you probably think about all the freedom and flexibility you’ll have. You might think about the endless possibilities for big profits. You might not spend as much time on the challenges and obstacles you’ll likely face.
1. It’s not all about passion
Your product idea might be your passion, but you’ll likely spend the majority of your time doing admin work, like filling out paperwork, finding a credit card processing provider, or managing a toilet paper vendor.
Be prepared to be bored sometimes.
2. It’s a rollercoaster ride
You probably expect to see some highs and lows, some tight months and some great years. You likely anticipate you’ll struggle for the first couple years.
What you might not realize is just how much of a rollercoaster ride it can be to start a business: The highs can be more amazing that you might believe. But the lows might be far worse than you expected. Are you willing to risk letting go of loyal employees or remortgaging your house when times are bad?
There will be some exciting times, as well as some sleepless, stressful nights.
3. It never goes as planned
Planning and strategizing are vital when starting a business, but just know that it’ll never go exactly as you had planned.
You might run out of money more quickly than anticipated
You might have more trouble getting customers than expected.
You might even grow more quickly than you planned for.
To succeed, being flexible and adaptable is important.
4. You should reinvest your profits
It’s tempting to want to take every dollar out of the business to live on, but it’s a better idea to reinvest (at least some of) your profits back into your business so you can invest in your growth and be ready for unexpected expenses.
5. You can’t do it all yourself
With a tight budget, you’ll probably want to do it all yourself, from coming up with marketing idea to bookkeeping to selling to cleaning the office and everything in between. Not only will you burn out if you do, but it’s important to note that you might not be the best person for the job, either.
Business consultants, marketing agencies, accountants, and other professionals are there for a reason. Consider it an investment. Admit what you don’t know and hire for your weaknesses.
6. It’s going to be isolating
Being at the top can be tough. You take on all the pressure and the responsibility. Often, you don’t want to delve into your stresses and problems with others around you because you don’t want to worry them (especially spouses and employees). As a result, it gets lonely on top.
Many business owners find it tremendously helpful to join entrepreneur groups, whether online or in person, to have likeminded people to reach out to.
7. Networking is vital, especially at first
When you have a tight budget and no brand, you’ll need to rely on networking more heavily, regardless of which business you’re in.
Networking will allow you to start building those relationships you’ll rely on for your entire career, whether to recruit talented employees, find great vendors, or find your next key clients.
8. You’ll work more hours than you think
One of the biggest risks of starting a business is entrepreneur burnout. All that freedom you expected? Forget about it (at least for the first few years).
Starting a business requires hard work and long hours. You’ll be living and breathing your new company for 60, 80, or 100 hours a week.
9. You should probably ignore most of the advice you get
From hiring advice to ways to skirt the tax man, everyone will have advice and most of these people will have zero experience as entrepreneurs. Some advice might be good, but most will be terrible. And you’ll probably stress out trying to figure out who’s right.
Plus, some people will just be all out negative, telling you that starting a business is a dumb, risky idea. Just follow your gut – it's gotten you this far.