Being an entrepreneur requires lots of sacrifices, but once you succeed, your hard work will be rewarded, and you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of.
Do you know when you grow old as an entrepreneur? Young entrepreneurs ask me how I succeeded “in those times” and have told me many times lately. At first, I was depressed, but I wondered if my life is really half-finished, and I let myself be flattered.
I have done quite well for myself, and now other entrepreneurs are seeking my advice, although some have not liked my answers to three things they tend to do, same that I comment below.
1. Want the business to grow fast
The eternal business question is: Do I recruit investors, or do I do it alone? The advantages and disadvantages are well known, as investors inject cash immediately, but also require immediate results and control, while organic growth may work, but it takes years.
I learned that you should grow the business for yourself, learn from that slow experience, and then launch another business faster. At least that worked for me. I quit my job as a public accountant for a national accounting firm and founded a credit counseling agency.
How slow did I start? My first office was a janitor closet converted into an old office building. He had a dented filing cabinet behind a broken desk. At that time, it was depressing. Looking back, I think it was the best thing that happened to me. My mistakes didn’t cost much because I didn’t have much, and I didn’t have to explain those mistakes to skeptical investors.
Many years later, I gave up control of that business to launch a more speculative one. Debt.com, which is a uniquely comprehensive service for debt solutions. I invested a lot of money to make it grow fast. It took almost five years to build it and make it profitable, but it worked because I learned to be patient and “pull the trigger” when it had to be done to generate change.
Best of all, I didn’t need investors, because I had done enough in my original business to finance this one. In summary: starting the first business is like going back to university because it is about learning, rather than generating money.
2. Being obsessed with a personal brand
I will be accused of being from the old school, but I don’t like entrepreneurs who spend more time with themselves than with their businesses. In this sense, Elon Musk has been a bad example for a new generation of brave entrepreneurs, and it is not their fault. It is already a great success, so if you want to improve your personal brand, you have the money and time to do it. Unfortunately, I see too many people imitating Musk’s approach. But my advice is: Don’t do it!
Although Musk has created a large following on social media and has a massive recognition of his name, he has also been in trouble recently for his controversial comments. So far, you have survived those controversies, but ask yourself: Could you recover from saying something stupid online? Let’s face it, the more you post, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
And more importantly, starting a business consumes not only time but also ideas. Do you really need to divide that time and brain space by building a person? Once he earns money, the person will grow organically.
Launching a new business is like raising a child because a baby is much more vulnerable than a teenager. You simply cannot afford to expose your young company to controversy.
3. Be connected all the time
Networking is a means, not an end. You can connect to meet potential customers, suppliers, affiliates, and partners, but unfortunately, I have seen too many young entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on the network because it becomes their social life. Let’s be painfully honest: Being an entrepreneur means making sacrifices, initially. Once you succeed, your hard work will be rewarded, and you can live the life you’ve always dreamed of. If it were easy to do, everyone would have done it already.
Remember: If you are not willing to sacrifice a social life when you are young, you may not be a successful entrepreneur when you are an older person.