before becoming an Entrepreneur
from the Next Web.com 01/15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
What do you love to do? Imagine somebody asked you to write on a piece of paper the things you love doing. If what came to mind was “partying, hanging out, going to the beach, meeting new people, traveling,” you might ready to go on vacation. If on the other hand, you wrote “learning, making decisions, listening, risk, selling, working hard & building something from nothing,” you might be ready to be an Entrepreneur. If you’re thinking about starting your own company from scratch, here are the things you better love – or at least learn to tolerate on a daily basis.
1. Being Broke. The two primary paths of starting a startup are Boot-strapping or raising outside Funding. If you quit your day job, and you are boot-strapping, you are often living off your savings.After you raise outside funds you’ll take a salary but it’ll probably be just survival. Investors rightfully expect you to be prudent with their money. Either way, you’re unlikely to be ‘living it up’ during the first years of your startup. It’s not uncommon in Silicon Valley for entrepreneurs with millions of dollars in the bank to live a humble lifestyle. So even if you’re thinking of becoming an entrepreneur for the payout (and hopefully you’re not), be prepared to pay your dues.
2. Working long Hours. Thanks to Hollywood, some people think being an entrepreneur is like the movie “The Social Network” where 20 % of it is work & 80 % action. The reality is, you must be prepared to work many times harder than you ever have while working for someone else. My co-founder and I typically work 80+ hr/wk. This is standard practice in Silicon Valley. The wonderful thing is if you do something you are “passionate” about, it doesn’t feel like work, it feels like an opportunity. It’s as if you are on a mission and time just flies.
3.Making tough Decisions. When was the last time you had to make an important decision? As a founder, you are constantly hitting crossroads, where it’s on you to decide which road to take. This happens with product (which features to build & which not), fundraising (if, when, from whom), partnerships, business model types, pricing, who to hire and so many more. You must learn to feel comfortable making important decisions. While you may have good mentors and/or advisors around you, it’s up to you to make the call and there’s often no clear right or wrong, or at least no way to know – until much later. It’s easy to criticize other entrepreneurs.
4. Learning new Things. Learning is one of the most rewarding parts of being an entrepreneur [E’s]. Statistically, a high percentage of “E’s” fail. However, what all E’s ‘win’ at is, a huge new basket of experience & skills. Having to wear many hats – development, marketing, pricing, pitching, customer and more, forces you to learn a lot in a short amount of time. Fortunately, there is a ton of info readily available to you. The culture in the Startup World today is one of transparency and that’s an amazing advantage. As pressed as I am for time, I spend a couple of hours every day reading. You’ll need to be in an input mode absorbing knowledge, to help you manage better and that’s rewarding.
5. Adapting to changing Circumstances. One of the greatest things being an entrepreneur can do for your character is teach you to adapt – to be open to new info & feedback. Being inflexible about your original Vision – regardless of new information you learn – can be a big hindrance to success. You do want to be open to adjusting your course. Being nimble is an advantage you have compared to bigger companies. Big ships take longer to change their course. Learning to be wrong will allow you to find your way as a leader and a person. Start with a theory about what might work and then make a point of letting the data & customer feedback have a real voice in determining whether we were right or wrong.
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