While some people pursue entrepreneurship for the promise of wealth or leadership, others are more interested in the journey of creating and nurturing something. Either way, there are certain realizations about life, management, and business that come with the territory. After a few years of entrepreneurship, regardless of whether you become rich or successful from the initiative, you’ll walk away with a wealth of experience and more knowledge that you can use in future enterprises, new jobs, or just life in general.
These 10 realizations are ones that every entrepreneur has at one point or another:
1. Making a decision is always better than avoiding one. When a decision has potentially harmful consequences, it’s easy to get intimidated, and possibly paralyzed by the choice. Experienced entrepreneurs eventually realize that in these cases, a decision — even a wrong decision — is better than no decision, as action is always better than inaction.
2. Risk is overblown. Incorporating perceived risk into your decision making is vital, as it helps you understand the possibilities for each potential choice. However, “risk” in general is not something to fear, and after making enough risky decisions, every entrepreneur learns this. Risk is just a complication for an opportunity, and even if things go wrong, there’s always a chance to make up for it.
3. You can’t control everything. As the entrepreneur, you’re the chief decision maker, and you’ll be far more in control than you were in your previous job. However, that control is partly an illusion; you can only control so much in your business. The rest is the product of random chance or factors beyond your control. How you react to those unforeseen developments will dictate your eventual success.
4. Work is life and life is work. The lines between “work” and life” become blurred when you’re an entrepreneur, and “work-life balance” becomes difficult, if not impossible. Your business will become an integral part of your life, and work will start seeping into areas you never thought it could. The thing is, you won’t mind, because work won’t feel like work anymore. It becomes a part of you.
5. Data only gets you so far. When you first start out, you might insist on making your decisions as logically as possible, using data to back all of your choices. This, generally, is a good thing, but data can only take you so far. You’ll have to use emotional reasoning and rely on your instincts a little, and entrepreneurs often realize this after their first year or two.
6. You aren’t the best at everything. You might be in charge of the whole operation, but that doesn’t mean you know everything about all of your individual departments. It’s best to hire people who are better than you; for example, you should hire an experienced financial advisor to head up your accounting department. Find people who are the best and surround yourself with them.
7. Ideas rarely turn out the way they are conceived. Ideas are what drive businesses forward, but great ideas alone aren’t everything. Just because you cook something up in your head doesn’t mean it will turn out the way you imagine — ideas are very fragile, and unforeseen variables can prevent you from churning out the idea. Entrepreneurs realize this, and work around that obstacle.
8. Motivation is everything. This realization applies toward the self as well as the other members of your team. If you’re motivated to solve a problem, there’s nothing that can stop you from solving it. If your team is motivated to solve a problem, they’ll solve it. The key is to find that motivation, and take action when you see it hasn’t manifested.
9. Mistakes aren’t a big deal. When you first start out as an entrepreneur, you might be intimidated at the notion of making a mistake — after all, even a small one has the potential to disrupt or compromise your business, right? Most entrepreneurs eventually realize that mistakes aren’t that big of a deal — they’re just learning opportunities that hold brief, conquerable setbacks.
10. There are always more chances. No matter how many times you make a bad decision, screw up, or let things go to hell, there are always more chances as an entrepreneur. You can take new paths, drum up new opportunities, and even if things get really bad, you can always start a new enterprise.
It’s one thing to read these realizations on a screen, and another to learn them firsthand. You can walk away from this article with a bit more knowledge and insight to the entrepreneurial journey, but if you really want to benefit from them, you’ll have to experience them for yourself. If you feel the call of entrepreneurship, don’t let your apprehensions or inhibitions stop you from pursuing your goals. Jump in and enjoy the ride.