I see a lot of people who are neglected on their entrepreneur journey. They suffer stress, anxiety and all sorts of emotional highs and lows. Entrepreneurship was meant to be fun, it was meant to be a route to islands, endless parties and even space travel.
Where did things go wrong?
Whenever I meet with a forlorn-faced entrepreneur, I share five harsh truths with them. On the surface my advice isn’t motivational, in fact it seems downright depressing and makes you want to go back to a day job. But, delve a little deeper and you’ll see that a formula for being a lot happier in business is easier than you expected.
RULE 1: It’s hard and it gets harder.
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy; you’re taking on people’s problems. You are taking on problems for your customers, for your staff, for your family and ultimately yourself. This responsibility is something that your family and your staff won’t or can’t grasp (and nor should you try to make them – it’s your journey not theirs). Entrepreneurship is so hard, it’s not even worth mentioning how hard it is.
Entrepreneurship is like boxing – each victory gives you the opportunity to face an even bigger, stronger opponent.
Rather than hoping for the day it’s effortless, you need to embrace the challenge. You realise that you aren’t digging ditches or scavenging for food.
Your problems are your entire making and you are engaged in the meaningful struggle to bring your vision out in the world. You stop looking for reprieve and start making things happen.
RULE 2: No one is coming to save you.
There’s no entrepreneur coming to “take you to the next level” – they are already building their own business. There’s no world-class manager who’s going to fix every problem who’s coming to join your team – they already work for Google and they would want crazy money to leave.
In every way, you are in the driver’s seat and everyone is looking to you. Great people on your team are great because you made them great – you trained them, developed them and believed in their potential while they made mistake after mistake.
Removing the hope that someone is coming to save you leaves you with the realisation that this business is in your hand, and your hands only.
RULE 3: In order to do the work you love, you have to win the work.
Here’s the problem, in order to do the work, you need to win the work. You have to get a client to transfer the money, sign the cheque or enter their PIN. Until that happens, it doesn’t matter how good you are at delivering value to a client.
There’s no easy sales system that generates clients passively. Great companies with billion-dollar brands still need excellent sales professionals to secure new business.
You can come up with great ways to surprise and delight people, you can create brilliant presentations and work on your communication skills. You can inspire a team of people who help win business – but only if you can find your groove when selling.
RULE 4: No one thing will work.
There’s no foolproof system, there’s no magic bullet and there’s no “people who just work hard without leadership”. Every system will need to be refined, every cutting-edge strategy will become commonplace, every hot product will cool off, every ace team member will need training and every asset will need developing.
Business requires you to juggle and there’s no such thing as a ball that just stays in the air, there’s only people who get good at juggling. As soon as you give up on the expectation that things just work, you suddenly embrace the challenge of dealing with more and more complexity. You discover a rhythm of preempting what needs your attention and you begin to fix things just as they begin to break rather than waiting for them to completely get destroyed.
RULE 5: You’re not here to get rewarded.
You’re not on this planet to be the recipient of riches and great rewards. You’re not entitled to travel, to have a big house or to enjoy endless holidays.
You’re here to solve problems for others. Your most rewarding work will be in the service of others, doing meaningful but challenging work. You might not get recognized for this work, the credit might go to someone else or the people you help might not be grateful at times.
It just so happens you’ve already won the human lottery. By virtue of the fact you’re alive at this moment, you’re educated, have access to technology, have food and clean water easily at arms reach, you’ve already got the rewards. You’re luckier than 99.9% of every human or animal that has walked the earth. Now it’s time to bring your A-game for helping others.
As soon as you give up on the idea that you’re doing this business for a payoff, and you just serve others as best you can and as sustainably as you can, you’ll start to gain huge satisfaction from the work itself. Everything on top of the opportunity to serve will be a bonus.
Business is tough, but it’s great. It’s a challenge that forces you to perform at your best and it won’t tolerate anything less. The main thing that makes business miserable is false expectations. If you want it to be easy, it gets damn hard. Paradoxically, if you embrace the struggle, it’s a lot more fun.
If these ideas resonate with you, you’ll definitely enjoy the event we’re holding next week. We’ll be running the Brand Expansion Workshop in London where you’ll learn how you can gain influence and formalise assets to ‘surf the entrepreneurial wave’. Learn more