A few months ago I was talking to my friend Matt. He was telling me about this job he used to have at an entrepreneurship non-profit that helped people start their own businesses. His job was to hear people’s business ideas and advise them about the next steps to take. He told me that most of the time he told people that they weren’t cut out to start a business and that they should get a job.
When he told me that I said, “you’re a horrible person! How can you kill people’s dreams like that?” I thought that it was awful to do that. This week, two people I really care about called me to tell me their businesses went down. To be honest, I saw it coming. But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to kill their dreams. And honestly, I’ve been wrong several times in the past about what businesses would make it and which ones wouldn’t. But I should’ve said something. If I could go back in time, this is what I would’ve told my friends:

  • Starting a business is a lot of work. You can’t even start to imagine how much of you it will require. You’ll have to work long hours, you won’t be able to spend as much time with your family as you want and that will likely create some tension with your spouse and kids.
  • It’ll take longer than you expect for your business to be profitable. Everything will cost twice as much and take twice as long as you expected.
  • You’ll be freaking out about money. Keep your job and work on your business in your free time until it generates enough income for you to quit your job.
  • It’s not all progress. You’ll go two steps forward, one step back, three steps forward, four steps back. When you see the work you created falling apart you’ll want to quit, but don’t. It’s just part of the game. Understand that, pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

I don’t want to discourage you from starting a business. I love starting businesses! I’m a serial entrepreneur myself. I’ve started seven companies and I’m about to launch my eighth. Running your own business is the most rewarding experience in the world and it gives you a kind of freedom you couldn’t get with a regular job. I’m telling you all this because I want you to have realistic expectations. I want you to be prepared. Forget all the “get rich overnight” BS you’ve read (especially from Internet marketers or self-proclaimed gurus). Starting a business is not easy, but it’s a great experience.
What are the main challenges YOU have found starting your business?