Becoming an entrepreneur isn’t as glamorous as it seems. Some motivated entrepreneurs are blinded by the clout that comes with the title of “business owner.” Their ambition is so great that they overlook potential frustrations and hurdles. Although being a successful entrepreneur comes with plenty of rewards and financial freedom, it takes plenty of work to get there. And success doesn’t come without some frustrating hurdles along the way.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most frustrating things you’ll face as an entrepreneur just starting out and how to overcome them:
1. Who’s the boss?
As a business owner and entrepreneur, you get to be your own boss, right? Not quite. This is one myth that many new entrepreneurs face. Being a business owner is risky. The lines between employee and owner are sometimes blurred. There are no clear boundaries for when your day starts and ends.
Entrepreneurship isn’t a 9-5 job where you punch a clock and leave without another thought. You’re the one in charge! And while this is attractive to some people, most ambitious business owners don’t realize the level of stress and responsibility that comes along with owning your own business.
Your livelihood depends on the success of your product or service. Your customers are your primary source of income. There are no guarantees and that means no protected income. Not only are you dealing with the stress of paying the bills both at work and at home, but you’re now responsible for dealing with all the tedious tasks that help your business run day-to-day.
As an entrepreneur, you’re still held accountable but instead of answering to the boss (you), you have to answer to employees and customers. One way to handle this hurdle is to surround yourself with responsible employees that can help take on some of this stress and handle customers when your patience wears thin.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” –Steve Martin
2. Financial Uncertainty
It’s no secret that you need money to get your business started. Planning ahead can help you get there. Obtaining financial backing and putting aside an “emergency fund” before you launch your business is a good start.
Once things get off the ground, you’ll rely on revenue and payments from customers and clients to cover overhead costs. This includes things like inventory, payroll, and rent or a mortgage. But what happens when your customers can’t pay on time?
Late payments can kill your business. This is a common hurdle for small businesses dealing with big-name clients. These big businesses don’t think a few late payments are a big deal. They know they’ll pay you eventually.
The problem is, many small businesses rely on these payments for day-to-day survival. A few late payments could mean the difference between paying your rent and getting evicted.
To avoid these headaches, create a detailed payment schedule and hold customers accountable for paying on time. If you can, collect payments before providing your service or product. Some businesses choose to set-up an automated payment schedule to guarantee they receive payments when you need them most.
3. Invest more than just your money
When you’re the boss you don’t have to do much more than signing the checks and count your stacks of money, right? Wrong! Successful business owners get their hands dirty by working alongside their employees.
Most businesses start out small, which means a lot of the responsibility will fall on your shoulders to start. You’ll be involved in a little bit of everything from sales and advertising to customer service and finances. While this might be frustrating at first, it’s a good way to learn and build your business from the bottom up.
Be prepared because these tasks are usually tedious and labour-intensive. As your business grows and you start making money and building your team, you can hire more reliable employees to do these jobs for you.
As frustrating as this is for many new entrepreneurs, there are some benefits. You’re in control of everything from the color of your advertisement to how inventory is arranged on the shelves. While these might seem like insignificant details, they go a long way in attracting customers and bringing in revenue.
You’re also creating the foundation for the processes and systems you want to use in the future. You’ll gain insight into all aspects of the business. Once things stabilize, you can move into a more administrative position, but never forget where you came from.
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” –Drew Houston
4. The customer is always right
As infuriating as the old saying is, “The customer IS always right.” Eating humble pie is one of the less-glamorous parts of being an entrepreneur. Bad reviews and customer complaints can do major damage to your business including your reputation and your income.
While no one likes dealing with a displeased client, big businesses can handle it without much trouble. Small and new businesses, on the other hand, can get hit hard by just a few unhappy customers. Customer complaints can cause big problems and require emergency damage control.
Unhappy customer comments can also be hard to swallow as an entrepreneur. They feel like a direct, personal attack. You may start doubting yourself and your potential for success. Can I come back from this? Is my business good enough? Am I good enough?
Don’t let a few unpleasant customers get you down! Do your best to make things right and recover. Don’t get lost in feeling sorry for yourself or the damage could be much worse and last much longer.
Negative online reviews are especially hard to deal with. With so many people on the internet, you can’t hide from a bad review. But it’s important to remember that how you react to a bad review is just as important as what the review says.
It’s also important to respond fast. Don’t let bad reviews linger on the internet for too long. This increases the chances that a prospective client will see them and make a decision based on them. The longer a negative review sits online without a response, the greater the risk that you lose potential new customers.
5. The buck stops with you
Most entrepreneurs consider their business their baby. You live and breathe your work. While this is admirable, don’t be surprised that your employees aren’t quite as impassioned as you. At the end of the workday, they leave work behind. You take it with you everywhere you go.
Regardless of how loyal your employees are, your business just doesn’t mean that much to them — but don’t take it personally.
But employees aren’t the only ones who might leave you high and dry. Vendors and third-party dealers probably don’t share your same sense of urgency when it comes to stocking shelves and meeting deadlines.
One way to deal with this hurdle is to have a plan B. Be honest about the things you can’t change. Getting upset or overly stressed will cause panic and stress throughout your business and won’t do anyone any good. Don’t take three delays personally.
Check your emotions at the door and focus on the task at hand. Take one day at a time and you’ll be surprised at how successful you’ll become.