Every entrepreneur starts out with big dreams and excitement. As an entrepreneur, you control your own destiny, and with the right ideas, the right skillset, and unflinching dedication, you can build wealth or establish an enterprise to serve as your legacy.
This is the bright side of entrepreneurship, but unfortunately, there’s also a darker side. The rigors of entrepreneurship demand sacrifices, and if you don’t make those sacrifices you’ll never be able to succeed. Business is, at its core, a give-and-take process. The more you invest, and the more you’re willing to part with, the more you’ll reap in rewards in kind.
There are five sacrifices that every entrepreneur needs to make:
1. Stability. You’re starting a new venture, and there’s no guarantee you’re going to succeed. The foundation for your company, even if your idea and plans are solid, is rocky at best, and there’s no telling which direction your business is headed until you’re several months, or often much longer, into running things. If you haven’t already sacrificed a comfortable, well-paying, stable job in order to follow this route, odds are you’ll have to sacrifice some other kind of stability before you can move forward.
Entrepreneurship is, by nature, an unstable path to follow. Don’t be surprised if you encounter multiple, unpredictable shifts in your fortune as your work progresses. It’s natural, and part of the process. Eventually, if you work hard with a clear vision, things will stabilize in your favor.
2. Work/Life Split. First, a note of caution: you’ll be sacrificing a work/life split, not necessarily a healthy work/life balance. When you become an entrepreneur, the lines between your working life and your personal life will blur. You’ll start thinking about business even when you’re away from the office, sometimes because you want to and sometimes because you can’t help it. You’ll also get calls and emails, urgently needing your attention because you’re the boss and there’s nobody else to answer them.
In effect, your downtime will become “light” business time, but the flip side is that your time in the office will feel more like personal time because you’ll want to be there. Remember, it’s still important for you to balance your work priorities and your personal ones — always make time for your family and your mental health — but the firm split between personal and professional time is going to go away no matter how you try to handle it.
3. Income. This goes along with the stability sacrifice, but for the first few years of your business, you’re probably not going to be making much money. In most businesses, entrepreneurs and their families end up investing heaps of their own money in order to get the business going — if this is the case for you, you’ll be making even more of a sacrifice since your potential safety net will be gone.
Since you’ll be deciding where the money goes, you can set your own salary, but many entrepreneurs don’t even take a salary during their first several months of operations — at least not until there’s a steady line of revenue backing them up. Be prepared for this. You’ll need a strong marketing plan to overcome barriers to entry and gain a share of the market in your industry.
4. Sleep. Sleep is vitally important, but no matter how hard you try to preserve healthy sleeping habits, you’re going to sacrifice some sleep in order to run your business. In some cases, you’ll be pulling all-nighters to get that last proposal together. In other cases, you’ll be getting up super early to make a meeting or get all your tasks in order. In still other cases, you’ll be lying awake at night, restless and wondering about the future of your company.
Whatever the case may be, your sleeping habits are going to change when you become an entrepreneur, and you’ll have to make the best of them no matter how they end up.
5. Comfort. Being the boss of your own company means the buck stops at you. You’re going to have to wear dozens of different hats, make decisions you’ve never made before, and delve into subjects you’ve never before considered. Part of being an entrepreneur means stepping out of your comfort zone, often multiple times every day.
The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who approach uncomfortable situations with confidence and a degree of excitement. Learn to thrive in uncomfortable environments, and you’ll find yourself much more at peace with your job.
Don’t think of these sacrifices as literal sacrifices. You’ll be giving something up, sure, but try to think of it as a type of investment. You’re giving up intangible luxuries in exchange for something better down the road. You’re paying for the opportunity to find success in your own enterprise, and your sacrifices will be rewarded many times over so long as you stay committed in your chosen path.
Remember, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people cant.” — Warren G. Tracy’s student
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!