Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
The reason is because entrepreneurship inherently requires a certain level of self-awareness. A lot more goes into building a business than just “doing it.” You actually have to be extremely thoughtful about what you’re building, how you’re going to build it, and most importantly, what type of leader you need to be in order to see your vision through.
I see so many startup entrepreneurs struggle with simply being honest with themselves: honest about the viability of their product or service, honest about the way things are going, honest about how they’re feeling about the journey, etc. They think coming up with the “idea” is the hard part, when in reality, that’s the easy part. What’s hard is bringing your idea to the market and letting it tear you to pieces. What’s hard is trying to sell that idea and having someone slam the door in your face. What’s hard is realizing your original idea isn’t quite what you thought it was, and it’s going to take time for the right idea to present itself.
Second reason, then, builds on the first, and it’s the unfortunate truth that aspiring entrepreneurs mislead themselves as to how much they are really working. If you think 9-5 is hard work, you’re really kidding yourself. As I once heard Shark Tank investor, Lori Greiner, put it, “Entrepreneurs are the only people that will work 80 hours not to work 40.”
If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, or maybe you’ve already begun down the journey, here are a few things you’re going to have to be honest with yourself about:
You have to acknowledge your weaknesses because that’s how you’re going to know who to hire.
We’re taught, from a very young age, that our weaknesses are what make us “weak.”
In entrepreneurship, though, knowing and freely admitting your weaknesses is often the fastest route to success. This is something I repeat over and over again in my book, All In, which is the importance of filling in your gaps as a founder. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll fail. If you try to do everything within the company, you’ll never scale. And if you refuse to admit what you’re not that great at, you’ll keep yourself from finding someone who can help you tremendously in that department.
So, be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. Knowing where you need help is the first step toward making a great hire.
Your title isn’t what makes you a leader.
Everyone wants to be the founder of this, or the CEO of that.
Unfortunately, those titles don’t mean anything for a while. Especially in the beginning, nobody really cares who you are or what you’re doing. What they care about is whether or not you’re the right person for the job. Clients and customers want to know they can trust you. Employees want to know they can rely on you, and that you have their best interests in mind. And no amount of calling yourself the founder or the CEO is going to change that. You have to earn it.
Unfortunately, a lot of founders learn this the hard way. They think the moment they “start a company” that the hard part is over. Again, false. The hard part is mastering your business to the point where people see you as the authority—regardless of what your title is, or what roles you’re currently playing within the business.
Be honest with yourself about this. Because if you rely on your self-imposed title to get people to trust you, they won’t trust you for very long.
Your idea doesn’t have merit until someone buys it.
The market will always decide what’s a good idea and what isn’t.
If you really want to become an entrepreneur, then you’re going to have to get used to people telling you what they think of your ideas. In fact, you should welcome it. You should chase external feedback. You should bring your idea to someone and say, “Tell me everything that’s wrong with this.” Because without this sort of 3rd party perspective, you’re never going to know what’s resonating and what isn’t—and more importantly, what people are willing to buy, and what they could do without.
Too many founders avoid this part of the process, and instead spend weeks, months, even years developing a product or service they aren’t even sure people will buy. But this is what entrepreneurship is all about. You have to face the market. You have to have people tell you, “I’m not interested in that,” so you can learn and your business can grow. And unless you’re willing to be honest with yourself about what your customers actually want, you’ll never be able to build a successful company.