There are many things they never really or rarely tell you about entrepreneurship. For instance, entrepreneurs line Forbes Rich List, regularly feature in popular magazines, platforms, radio and TV programs, talk shows, podcasts, etc. As a result, many imagine that entrepreneurship is all gain and no pain. Well, newsflash, think again.
For example, not all entrepreneurs succeed (at first). In fact, recent statistics put the startup failure rate at a whopping 90%. It further states that of all small businesses started in 2011:
- 4 percent made it to the second year
- 3 percent made it to the third year
- 9 percent made it to the fourth year
- 3 percent made it to the fifth year
Some others have tried and failed multiple times and have entirely given up on entrepreneurship resigning to fate or working regular jobs. There are certainly more tools to help modern entrepreneurs succeed today, however, entrepreneurship still isn’t a bed of roses.
In this post we’ll be highlighting seven important things they rarely or never really tell you about entrepreneurship but before we press “reality check”
What is Entrepreneurship?
A Google search of what is entrepreneurship turns up tons of results. Entrepreneurs and students of entrepreneurship all have their versions of what entrepreneurship is or isn’t.
Here some entrepreneurs share their thoughts on what entrepreneurship is to them.
For the purpose of this post, we shall define entrepreneurship as the act and art of starting, running, or building a business into profitability.
That said, here are
7 Must-Know Things They Rarely or Never Tell You About Entrepreneurship
- Lonely Journey
Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey especially when starting out. Sometimes your ideas are so revolutionary that friends and family, even fellow entrepreneurs abandon you until your success is televised.
For solopreneurs and many freelancers, loneliness is something they have to deal with on a daily basis. So if you want to become a successful entrepreneur brace yourself for lonely days.
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Social media helps some entrepreneurs connect with others. Spending quality time with family and friends or networking is a great way to build beneficial business relationships.
- Partner Problems
Another way entrepreneurs beat loneliness is by finding like-minded entrepreneurs to partner with. Yuja Chang and Watson Yim are co-founders of Aira, a high-tech social enterprise startup working to expand mobility and independence for the visually impaired. They’ve raised over $16m in funding.
Not all entrepreneurial partnerships are this promising. Some have ended in embarrassing lawsuits until the public has no idea what happened to their business idea.
Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg once collaborated on Facebook being schoolmates at Harvard. They soon fell apart after the former’s shares were allegedly downgraded leading to a lawsuit.
- Team Building
Another challenge entrepreneurs face is building a team of like-minded people.
Sanivation is a social enterprise company co-founded by Andrew Foote that provides sanitation as a service for urbanized communities. They provide free toilets and charge a small monthly fee to collect waste which they process into cheap environmentally friendly fuel in place of coal. Sanivation is powered by a solid team of thoroughbreds.
Not all startups or entrepreneurs are this lucky. Poor teams kill morale, exhibit poor work ethic, mistreat customers, and generally kill businesses. For this reason, extra care should be taken when recruiting team members.
Funding plays a key role in many startup success stories. Generally, entrepreneurs can do more with more funds. Reports say the lack of funding is responsible for 82% of business failure.
As mentioned earlier, Aira recently raised $16m to expand its business base. Some of the biggest tech IPOs of 2018 included those of SoftBank, Spotify, Avast, DocuSign, etc.
The same cannot be said for entrepreneurs in poorer countries or regions who have to deal with unfriendly lending rates and poor infrastructure among others.
- Systemic Limitations
Entrepreneurs in underdeveloped or war-affected countries/regions face more systemic challenges than entrepreneurs in say America.
Corruption and poor governance also deter some entrepreneurs. Kickbacks, bribes, red tapes, bureaucracy, lack of infrastructure, high-interest rates, multiple taxations, extortion, etc. are some of the things entrepreneurs in such regions have to deal with.
Those requiring arable land, for instance, may have to wait for years and bribe scores of government officials to acquire land for agriculture. It’s simply frustrating. Exploring the digital economy is one way out for such.
For many, profit is the main or only reason for entrepreneurship. They hear about million-dollar startups and billion-dollar IPOs and assume it’s as simple as it sounds.
Facts, on the other hand, show that many new enterprises aren’t profitable within their first year. Some manage to break even in their second or third year and become profitable thereafter. Others take longer.
Recent reports indicate that 40 percent of small businesses are profitable, 30 percent break even and 30 percent are continually losing money.
- Hard Work
Many onlookers want to resign their 9-5 jobs and become entrepreneurs so they can take a vacation and work less, but experience has shown that is not always the case.
South African entrepreneur and Co-Founder of SweepSouth, Aisha Pandor during an interview in Under40 CEO, stated that she works so hard, she was already working just hours after giving birth to her (last) daughter.
You’d probably resign your 9-5 job if you were asked to do the same, but entrepreneurs always go extra miles. The difference is they’re mostly driven by passion and success.
Similarly, Andrew Foote of Sanivation says he works 60 hours a week, 20 hours more than the average workweek.
In closing, it is essential to keep abreast of some of these challenges entrepreneurs face before quitting your 9-5 job and taking the leap into entrepreneurship.
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list but knowing that there will be challenges that will help you prepare better and become a much-better-prepared entrepreneur.
Amos Onwukwe is an AWAI trained Business and Ecommerce Copywriter who has been featured in scores of blogs including Huffington Post, Dumb Little Man, E-commerce Nation, eCommerce Insights, Understanding E-commerce, Result First, Fellowship, Successful Startup 101, Small Biz Club, Small Business Bonfire, among others.
He is available for hire