The idea of becoming an entrepreneur can be enticing, like how the idea of being in love can often be more exciting than the reality of how much hard work it takes to making a healthy partnership work for the long haul.
Many people decide to leave their corporate jobs in order to pursue the lifestyle they see many entrepreneurs post about on their social media networks. They fantasize about coasting from city to city, country to country, laptop under one arm and a coffee, or perhaps a margarita, in the other hand.
The truth about being an entrepreneur
But the truth is — you see those glamorous “freedom” photos because they’re a lot more interesting than the pictures they would take at 4 am sitting down in front of a whiteboard, hair disheveled, markers everywhere, lists of problems and potential solutions, notebooks filled with action steps, potential strategic partnerships, and financial spreadsheets.
I don’t say this to discourage you, I say this to encourage you to have a serious check-in with yourself about what it takes to become your own boss. This applies to you even if you’ve been an entrepreneur for years — maybe you’re stuck and you don’t know why. Or maybe you’ve been extremely successful, building momentum and you’re just looking for how to break through to the next level.
Wherever you are in your process, just know this — to be a great entrepreneur you will have to work harder for yourself than you’ve ever worked for any other person in your life. If this excites you, then keep reading. The reason so many self-starters don’t feel like they’re working when they’re in hustle mode is because they’re THAT passionate about what they’re doing. When you see a need for something that you’ve got the solution for, it’s invigorating beyond anything else.
You often hear investors say that they’re not necessarily looking for a perfect idea to get behind, they’re looking to invest in the most passionate person who will stay up night and day, who will devote their life to their goal until they achieve it. Be that person.
Define your problem and know your solution
The most successful tech apps, brands, marketing campaigns, various companies and even non-profits have one thing in common. The founder or co-founders each came across some sort of problem or lack, and created a solution. If you think something can be done better, guess what; it can.
You just need to study the industry you are looking to innovate in-depth and then intuitively, after much time spent, you will start coming up with novel ideas and products.
Know your competitors
Once you start to dive into the research required to start a company or brand, you’ll most likely see that you aren’t the only one who’s had your idea. That’s okay – don’t get discouraged, instead get familiar with your “competition” and learn as much as you can about what and who they are.
If they’re already a large, successful company, perhaps you can offer clients a more personalized approach to doing business. If they’re a startup, you could reach out and collaborate, help share each other’s content across both of your platforms and form an alliance, grow and rise together.
Now not everyone will share this “team” building approach, but that’s okay. Instead of letting it set you back, use that competitive fire to push you forward harder and faster on the days that you don’t feel like getting to work.
Build the right team
You can only go so far on your own. Once you are ready to expand, start looking for people to join you. You may have to offer them equity or other forms of incentive if you can’t yet pay them, and it’s worth investing in a good startup lawyer to help draft the appropriate paperwork.
Bring in people who share your passion but have different skills than you, skills that will complement your existing talent.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to hire people who are too much like you because while you may like working with them, you won’t be able to get to the next level. Be willing to let go of some control, this is now a shared project so you’ve got to learn how to share the ideas and delegate responsibilities so that you can focus forward.
Creating a structured schedule is essential to seeing results. If you have a weekly conference call with your team, make it the same time and day every week.
Craft a personal routine that you stick to: go to the gym at the same time, wake up at the same time, schedule meetings as close to the same time as possible (for example, do a 10am coffee or 1pm lunch meeting) so that you can schedule your workday around these.
If you’re still working a corporate job by day, finish everything you need to do before you sit down to work on your personal brand or startup so that your work time can be completely clear of other responsibilities and focused. If you’re posting to social media or writing articles, post every single day no matter what.
It’s easy to say you’re an entrepreneur, but over time you will see who sticks around and builds momentum, and who slowly fades away.
If you’re willing to put in the hard work and time it takes to launching your project, if you’re okay with the initial sacrifices you’ll have to make both financially and personally, and you’ve got a personality that doesn’t ever really hear the word “no,” then go for it. Jump in, all in, because the rewards are incredible and at the end of the day, you turned your dream into a tangible thing, and that is the definition of living your purpose.