Being an entrepreneur is tough. It's honestly not something I ever thought I would do. Starting my own company at the age of 25 has taught me a lot. I've learned a lot about working with people, business partners, my strengths and weaknesses and much more. So here's a few things I thought of that I have learned over the past year that I wanted to share.
People will underestimate you.
You will have to prove yourself. Show confidence in everything you do. Show the same respect you want.
People will try to take advantage of you.
Just because you are a startup does not mean you do everything or anything for free. Be proud of your product and firm on your pricing.
You will sweat the small stuff.
For the first 6 months to a year you will most likely sweat the little things. I stress about people not supporting our company, not understanding the accounting software I use (I'm learning), doing taxes (money well spent hiring a professional), and how to design my own marketing material (taught myself design programs). All things that are important, but try not to lose sleep over the small stuff.
On that note, you will lose sleep. A lot of it.
If you aren't making money, you are losing sleep. How do we pay our bills? What vendor gets paid this week? If you are making money, you'll lose more sleep. What's the best use of our profits? Is my accounting software good enough to keep track of all of this? Who do we pay first?
You will have cheerleaders and you will have negative Nancy's.
Take the good, leave the bad. Don't waste time listening to negative comments, unless it's constructive. You will have friends that don't support you. You might even lose a friend or two because your priorities have changed. Don't let this stuff slow you down. Use the positive supporters as your driving power.
You will second-guess everything.
Most entrepreneurs have good months and bad months. In bad times it's hard to wonder if you are doing anything right. You will second-guess your idea, your business model and your vision. It's important to focus on what you can improve on in those rough times, because in the good months, you know it's working.
You will need a break.
I know many entrepreneurs say you can't vacation within the first few years of starting a company, but I disagree. Everyone needs a break, time to reflect, refresh and come back renewed. I get burnt out easily, so I take weekends to get away and get a full night's sleep, not thinking about anything work related.
You will make mistakes. Lots of them.
We are human. We all make mistakes. Find ways to work through your frustration and learn. I write. I write about mistakes I've made, things that frustrate me, things I don't like. I don't publish any of these posts, but for me, that's free therapy to work through why I possibly messed up or got frustrated.
Celebrate all wins. Big and small. Get excited about the small wins, now is the time to praise yourself, your team, partners, etc. And do it often.
You will love being an entrepreneur.
It's hard. It's exhausting. Maybe it's not for everyone, and I often think if this is right for me. But if you are passionate about what you do, you will love the hard work you put into it and you will really love the reward.
What have you learned about being an entrepreneur?
Follow Cat Carlos on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GethiredbyCat