In the age of instant gratification, it seems people think that entrepreneurship and being an entrepreneur is just a matter of changing your bio on social media.
One might even “fancy it up" a bit and upload a photo or video of their “productivity," neither of which involve any real risks…and entrepreneurship is all about risks. The true definition of an Entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so."
I told myself that once I successfully became a real entrepreneur and reached $10,000-positive in business capital, I would write a blog post to inspire others that wanted to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. As I arrive at that benchmark, I'm not sure if this blog post will inspire or if it will send people running for the hills of job security. But as promised, here I am, telling you the 10 things that no one told me about being an entrepreneur. (Or maybe they did, but I was too hard headed to listen.)
Let's call this, "Chantia's 10 Entrepreneurial Commandments":
1. Thou Will Be Broke
I invested over 8K to get Mantle Learning Center started, 8K that I had to pay back in order to advance my business credit limit. Even once the 8K was paid off, I was still broke because it's not your money, it's the business's money. Even being over $10,000-positive in business capital, the money belongs to the business and should be used to maintain the business and help it grow. Sure, you are out of the red once you are cash positive but you, personally, are still broke and will be for a long time coming.
2. Thou Will Be Tired And Overworked
You are the business owner, the janitor, the financial advisor, the bookkeeper, the employee, marketer, etc. It is chaos. There are barely any days off. You will be tired af. I'm talking 0–4 hours of sleep most nights, bags under your eyes, on the verge of tears tired. You will learn to operate in this state, hopefully.
3. Thou Shall Gain Weight
No, but seriously, even entrepreneurs that open fitness businesses fall off the wagon. You are literally not sleeping, overworking, and barely eating. That is a recipe for weight gain. Be mindful so that you can hopefully mitigate any damage done as a result of your circumstances.
4. Thou Will Be Taken Advantage Of And Taken For Granted
When you start your business, you are grateful. If you are lucky enough to have revenue coming in, you can begin to feel like your customers are doing you a favor. The issue with this is, you forget that you are providing a service or product that they want/need. Therefore, the gratefulness should be double-sided. To the entrepreneur being taken advantage of or being taken for granted, remember: just because customers don't see your value, doesn't mean it's not there. Know your worth, then multiply it. If you're providing something that people want, your target audience will find and appreciate you.
5. Thou Will Have No Time For A Personal Life
This was a hard pill to swallow. My first year of being a true entrepreneur, I missed two friends' weddings, my Godson's christening, my best friend's baby shower, and numerous other things. My fiancee and I hang out on the weekends and say a handful of words to one another during the week. This year has brought about what it really means to be “too busy."
6. Thou Shall Keep A Precise Record Of Income And Expenses
Major Key Alert! I thought I was so organized! I just knew that my records were on point...until it was time to submit them to an accountant and I was scrambling to write stuff off in order to prove that my expenses outweighed my income. Research things that can be written off and I recommend, in your first year, trying to keep your expenses and income in one account. Write off any and everything possible because we all know not to mess with the IRS.
7. Thou Shall Start To Secure Their Future
Sometimes it frustrates me that I didn't come from a family that could teach me about investing, reinvesting, 401(k), stocks, ownership, etc. I am not an expert in the area and I won't pretend to be. I will tell you that a business or personal savings account isn't good enough. The interest rates are too low to matter or make a difference for your future. I will also tell you that entrepreneurs don't have money going into a 401(k). Therefore, it is wise to look into a Roth/Vanguard account. This will help secure a retirement savings account. Please click the underlined terms to learn more.
8. Thou Shall Doubt Themselves And Their Decisions Everyday
This is just a part of the package. It will feel like you're flying and liberated one moment, only to feel as though you are going to crash into something the next. My best advice would be to write down affirmations every morning to serve as a reminder of your purpose. The 5 Minute Journal is super useful in helping you keep your eyes on the prize and organizing your thoughts. I would also try some form of meditation to ease your anxieties.
Finally, find a little time to read books that will help you work through doubting yourself. My favorite one as of late is Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. Hill discusses how fear, doubt, and procrastination all serve as forces of “evil" that keep us from realizing and reaching our truest potential.
9. Thou Shall Know When To Walk Away
This is a major key alert too! Just because it's been a dream your whole life or you gave it too many years doesn't mean that you should spend your whole life trying to get it off the ground. The when, why, and how will ultimately be up to you. For me, when you're drowning financially, emotionally, or creatively, it's time to take what you've learned and pivot to a better idea.
10. Thou Shall Learn From Their Mistakes
Entrepreneurship is hard and exciting. The best part is that it provides you with lessons and experiences that no job can. You learn to budget for yourself, for a growing business, you learn balance, you learn the true meaning of customer service, you learn how not to give up at the first hint of failure, and so much more. You also learn whether or not entrepreneurship is for you or if you function better as an employee. You'll learn that it's not something you do just because all the “cool kids are doing it." You must be willing to risk it all.
I wish you well on your journey of entrepreneurship and hope that you find light, laughter, and inspiration in the 10 "commandments" detailed above. If you do, please recommend, drop a comment below, and share!