3 things entrepreneurs hate but have to do to survive

20 November 2018

You did it. You risked everything and you started your own business. You’ve done what most people are terrified of doing, but now, you have to see it through.

Here are 3 things you may hate, but have to start doing — and keep doing — if you want to survive as an entrepreneur.

1. Admit You Don’t Know Everything

You will never survive as an entrepreneur if you can’t admit when you’re wrong.  Your ego may have gotten you started, but you have to let it go (at least partially) if you want to succeed.

Now, don’t get me wrong, confidence is mission critical in your line of work, but the greatest confidence stems from learning how to learn from your mistakes.

Start with the right perspective. Know what you’re up against and acknowledge that you may fail completely. Creating your own business is risky — come to terms with the fact that it means putting yourself in harm’s way.

The course of entrepreneurship has never been easy, but being mentally prepared for the struggle will help you survive through it.  Assume that there will be problems every day and relish the chance to turn lemons into lemonade.

If you can learn how to learn, you will find success in your business goals as well as in life. Winston Churchill famously said that “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” So be flexible, learn from mistakes and admit you don’t know everything (even about your own business).

2. Ask for Help

Most likely, you chose entrepreneurship because you don’t like being told what to do. You wanted to be your own boss and you didn’t want to answer to anyone one else. But this doesn’t mean you have to be unwilling to ask for help.

In particular, you need a good team surrounding you and a culture of support. You should find a partner who is your compliment. For example, if you are great with products, but not so great with sales, find a partner who is. You will see greater success if you are able to identify your own areas of weakness and ask for help before it’s too late.

And don’t be afraid to bring on additional team members. Seek people who align with your vision and your passions, but bring skill sets that you don’t have. As you grow, you may begin to anticipate problems or gaps in your knowledge. Hire help before these problems smack you in the face.

Automation is another great way of acquiring “digital help.” Simplifying some of your mundane office tasks, such as invoicing or bookkeeping, can give valuable time back to you. Consider utilizing software like Quickbooks 2019 or an alternative in order to streamline your financial organization.

Asking for help may also mean asking for money. Even if you start on good footing, scaling your business can become a huge challenge. It’s important to have growth plans in place and be willing to find new investors. Along the way, you may have to freeze your spending (and even your salary). Remember that running a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep a steady pace and take advantage of the people offering you water.

Emotionally, you should also have a good support network in place. Make time for your family and friends — always showing your gratitude for their encouragement. Without outside support, you will quickly crumble.

3. Take Breaks

Of all the things entrepreneurs hate doing, this may be the hardest — let yourself breathe.

Wasn’t independence one of the big draws to creating your own business? Then, take advantage of it! If you don’t commit to regular downtime, you will burn out. Schedule your own holidays and disconnect whenever possible. When you’re out of the office, turn off notifications and trust that your team can handle things without you.

Even if you’re on your own, there are ways to make vacations happen. Coordinate with colleagues and clients in advance, automate email messages and create an emergency plan. With diligent planning beforehand, solopreneurs and startup founders can take guilt-free holidays just like salaried employees. Sam Butler, a solo Seattle public relations adviser says that “the time you take away is an investment in being able to do high quality work when you’re back.”

In addition to taking time off, you should also schedule daily breaks in the form of sleep and exercise. Keep your health in check, nurture your passions and treat yourself. Burnout is real—don’t let it happen to you.

Entrepreneurship can be the fire that drives you, but it can also be the flood that destroys. The best way to survive the journey and avoid burnout is to follow your passion. If your business doesn’t animate and inspire you, you will never be able to give 110%.

Jaren Nichols

Jaren Nichols is Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks, online accounting software for small businesses. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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