These days you hear young people humming in excitement about their new startups, and already established companies are making it even bigger. It’s a good time to be an entrepreneur, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Just because it seems like a comfortable time to plop onto the massive market cushion, doesn’t mean you’re cut out for it. Before the comfort and glory of business, comes the pain and agonizing hardship of sleepless nights, product development and financial confusion.
I’ve seen lots of startups fail, and that was because it takes more than passion and funds to break into the market. So before you think about jumping off the cliff into the cold water of entrepreneurship, look at these truths and think about them! Can you handle all this?
Ouch, you could fail!
Even if you have the best idea since Instagram, no market is easy to break into. And most ideas need to evolve before they’ll be validated by the market. If you have a product that you’ve been trying to promote for a year but you aren’t getting the traction you need, then you can try and change the business strategy or pay attention to social media feedback. Later on, you could try a different promotional design for it. If you’ve tried all the possible options out there and it isn’t working, then accept this particular failure. It happens sometimes, people fail at their ideas and that’s alright. To be an entrepreneur, you must be willing to learn from failures and move past them because ups in business aren’t guaranteed, whereas downs are inevitable. In fact, being able to learn from their failures is one of the top personality traits of successful entrepreneurs.
Some startups are flexible at first and then fail to stay open to everything that’s needed for growth. Remember GreenGar? They earned 15 million downloads of their iOS app, then the Vietnamese startup collapsed. What happened? They couldn’t reach out to a larger audience and were inflexible about expanding their business models further.
You’re not your own boss
I know this one probably hurts! You thought you’d be your own boss, and that means no more pent up anger and frustration towards a higher authority. WRONG. Customers, sales workers and your team are passive bosses. You’ll have all kinds of customers demanding all sorts of things, and you have to stay calm and deal with it. The team is responsible for making decisions that favor your business and they will tell you what decisions to take. At ClickDesk we are always open to feedback and customer interaction, not only because we value our customers (after all, our app is for real-time customer engagement), but also because they consistently help us to build a better product with more features and smarter features, which means more revenue for them and for us. This equation means the customer is the boss!
Rand Fishkin used to be the CEO of Moz but you’d find him working like any other employee in the company. Entrepreneurs think of the customer first and are always willing to contribute to building a better product, no matter what it takes. Owning a business means looking out for the company and team, so you won’t be treated like royalty but rather the opposite.
Say goodbye to payday
By this, I mean you won’t be getting a fixed sum of money anytime soon. It all depends on how the business is going, and whether you’re a fresh startup or an old player in the field. Don’t expect to turn into an overnight millionaire. Any available funding should be put directly into your new business. This has to be a priority, whether you like it or not. And don’t quit your job to launch a startup! Wait until there’s not just revenue but steady MRR growth.
A prime example of how to do this right is Agile CRM, a combined sales and marketing app that bootstrapped its own growth to become a successful startup. Writing about how to build a million-dollar SaaS company in India’s reinvigorated tech environment, founder and CEO Manohar Chapalamadugu notes that to achieve “sustainable growth” you have to “avoid one-hit wonders.”
Personal life? Maybe next year
We all treasure our personal life. But you can’t have complete control over it when you have a business. With a startup you will get constant calls, emails, updates and meetings to verify details and create new strategies for your new product’s front end, back end, and everything between. You also need to spend time researching top companies and new competitors in your niche. I’ve heard a lot of entrepreneurs laugh about how they’re scrolling through market updates and emails in the bathroom and on holidays at the beach. There’s a good chance that your business and personal life will overlap. If that sounds like an exciting prospect, entrepreneurship might be right for you after all. If not, then stop now before your business and your personal life fail.
It takes a lot of time, effort and money to reach the work and life balance that Richard Branson has reached. This isn’t usually the case for new startups, so you must be prepared to give it your all. And it helps to make work-life balance a part of your startup strategy after you achieve some sort of market share. Humor helps too, as in this comment by Andreessen Horowitz’s Ben Horowitz:
Haters gonna hate!
Wise words sung by Taylor Swift. How does this apply to entrepreneurs? Well, it’s a harsh reality of being an entrepreneur in today’s competitive market. Develop a thick skin early, and learn which outlets to pay attention to and which ones to ignore. Many startups can now market globally, whether they’re selling a SaaS product, a physical object or a consulting service, but that also means that criticism and sometimes unfriendly competition come from all over the world too.
My point is, no matter where you are or whatever business you might be doing, people will dislike you. You can’t please everyone, and you might as well accept that and move on. If your business is doing well or getting more attention than others, there might be a chance that other companies will track your strategy and try to counter it. Everybody is fighting their way up to the ladder of success and profits.
You’re bound to have people who dislike you. Remember that other businesses might even “dislike” you because you’re good at what you do. There’s no pleasing everyone in this ball game. You either make it or break yourself trying in the market. Just focus on building the best business you can, acting ethically and professionally in all instances, and never losing focus of your customers. That last point is essential: it’s never too early to install a tool like UserVoice, which will help your customers give useful feedback. Haters gonna hate, so focus on your users instead. And again, if this already sounds overwhelming, then go get a normal job!
Time is Money
I hate to break it to you, but those elaborate plans you have set out can’t fit into the short time span where you have to make your business successful. So remember to focus on things that matter right now, and try to move things along faster. Don’t waste too much concentration on planning; otherwise there won’t be enough time for implementation. And testing the actual market is essential. Afraid to do that? Then entrepreneurship might not be right for you.
Now that you know it’s not a smooth journey and has its bumps and cracks along the way, you can decide for yourself. If you still want to go ahead, then may the marketing force be with you. But if you’ve decided to back out, then I hope you enjoy your next planned vacation without phone calls and emails.
Do you have any other terrifying truths to share?
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This is a guest post by David Campbell of ClickDesk. Give him feedback on Twitter.