Reality Check: 15 Harsh Truths of Running a Business

We all know that starting a business is no walk in the park. But, how hard can it be to start a business, do things you’ve always loved doing, and earn money at that? The business leaders, CEOs, and successful entrepreneurs we see are all happy, confident, rich, and spend their days giving interviews, talking, and smiling. And they have a team of people to do the work for them. Is this the reality? It is, but there’s another side to it.

It is hard to start and launch a business, but once you’re up, the business established and earning, you can take a breather and enjoy life, right? Wrong! Yes, it is the hardest when starting, but the challenges never end, the work never stops.

Here are 15 harsh realities of entrepreneurship to consider and prepare for before starting a business.

You need to work double time, most of the time

Do you think your nine-to-five, Monday to Friday work hours is gruelling? Double that and you have the everyday routine of an entrepreneur. In some cases, business owners only have the few hours of sleep and meal breaks. Then again, if you are doing something that you really love, work is not really work.

You will miss your reliable income

Employment assure us of monthly income. You get paid by just going to work and doing your job. You get your regular salary regardless of the company’s performance. Bonuses might be given for extra effort done or for exceptional performance. But competition, losses, and cash flow are not really part of your concerns. Now, you have to earn your personal expenses, your company’s expenses, and try to earn a profit too.

You cannot have total control

Being an entrepreneur and the boss doesn’t give you complete control of your time and activities. On the contrary, running a business could take a firmer grip on you! There will be times when you will feel as if everything is out of your control – machines failing, sales falling, and employees walking out on you! You can only prepare for every possibility and pray for the best.

Your ideas aren’t always the best

Most successful business leaders are those who work with the brightest minds. They know that a great idea can always be improved. They welcome and encourage suggestions, opinions, and constructive criticisms. Find and trust people who can honestly tell you your product’s flaws and your system’s weaknesses.

It is easy to lose control

Being the boss gives you a lot of authority over your business and the people you are working with. You get to hire and fire people, as you see fit. Investors will give you control over large sums of money, trusting that you will grow it for them. Power over everything can be intoxicating, and if you’re not careful, it can also cause your fall.

It is easy to fail

The fear of losing everything is real in business. You will be making huge and risky decisions more often. Entrepreneurs are strong hearted risk takers, calculated gamblers, positive thinkers and opportunity grabbers. Business has no room for the faint hearted. Failure is part of the game, and winners are those who always get up and work back up.

Learning is part of the job

The most successful entrepreneurs never stop learning new things. They read books, listen to other people, travel, and experience new things. You will have to learn every aspect of your company – the tasks, processes, protocols, and the people. It is also a must that you know your competitors, your suppliers, and the industry.

Change is inevitable

In business, the only permanent thing is change. It is inevitable. Be prepared to let go of things that seems perfect today, for tomorrow another thing will take its place. Be ready to learn innovations to keep up with times, better yet, strive to be the innovator. Trendsetters take the biggest risks, get the most rewards, and are the most successful.

Frustrations are commonplace

Running a business will be frustrating. Expect to face disappointments, challenges, and more work. Be wary if things work exactly as planned! It can happen, but extensive preparation is a must. If it happens the first time, review the process, consider the factors, and test it on different situations. You’re not overworking, you’re just preparing for the next cycle.

You will need to trust people

You can’t be everybody and everywhere in your company. You will need to work with a team, and trust them to do their job and put the interest of the company as their priority. You will need other people to deal with your clients, handle cash, prepare the products, and take care of sensitive information and documents. You will need an outside eye to review your processes and design a better one. Most often, it is the people from the outside who can plainly see the flaws.

You will lose sleep, a lot

Harsh, but it’s the reality. Running a business means you have other responsibilities other than yourself and your family. Employees are banking on their paycheck, investors are looking forward to a profit. Is it better to buy or rent the machine?  Will the huge client sign on the deal? How do you generate sales during off-peak season? If these aren’t enough to keep you up at night, there are also the bookkeeping to do, taxes to file, and reports to complete.

Competition is unfair

Knowing your competitors is good. But that’s as far as you can go. You have no control over their actions and decisions. And in business, the game is not entirely fair. Do not expect your competitors to consider your feelings or interests when making decisions. Theirs are farthest from your mind, expect the same from them.

Time is priceless

Scarcity drives the value higher. You won’t mind spending an extra hour at the diner when you have the whole night to pass. You will not have that luxury once you start a business. An hour lost to idling will never be recovered. Learn how to manage your time more efficiently. You can never buy back an hour or a day lost. Neither can you pay to get extra, we all have 24/7, make the most of it.

Consumers are king

Of course, you realise how we cater to the needs, wants, and whims of your clients and customers. But, just how far do you think you can accommodate a customer? I say, right from the beginning and until they are satisfied. You think your pricing is fair, but your customers don’t agree? Change it, or you lose. Do you think your café theme is the coolest, yet have no patrons? Change it, your customers don’t agree.

There will always be something to do

Employees can look forward to weekends and scheduled vacations to spend time with family, go on trips, or just enjoy a lazy day. Entrepreneurs aren’t entitled to such privilege. You can go home, but you will have to bring work with you, take trips, but you will still be thinking of the company. Lazy days mean clearing your table, answering emails, and networking. Delegating will give you a better handle of your personal time. Find people you trust, delegate, and take your days off.