For this article, I would like to thank all of the Entrepreneurs in Castellón, Spain who shared their time with me. Keep fighting the challenges of entrepreneurship.
So, you have an idea that is going to make the world a better place, as well as make you filthy rich. But if you are going to be a successful entrepreneur you are going to need thick skin, and possibly a stronger heart.
You will need grit, adaptability and the diligent study of the technicalities of your industry. But along the way, the challenges you face may surprise you.
Difficulties won’t always be as plain as completing a credible business plan or raising funds. You are going to face personal tests that will question just how badly you want to be successful. Those are the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Hopefully giving you a heads up will make the adventure much more manageable.
Let’s take a look at the nine personal challenges you ought to be aware of.
“We should not let our fears hold us back from pursuing our hopes.” — JOHN F. KENNEDY
1. THE ‘WELL WORN PATH’ CHALLENGE
Beware the DEFAULT EFFECT. We tend to follow familiar and convenient trends as opposed to braving the originality of a more fulfilling path.
Look! Anything you want to do in life will require time, work, plus the one flair you bring to it. You are going to have to spend time developing the one quality that sets you apart from the crowd. You may think of this as your unique selling proposition.
With these three ingredients, you can follow virtually any path already laid out in front of you. Whether that be becoming a doctor, lawyer, bricklayer or a barber. It is not hard to figure out how to work for someone else. But as an entrepreneur, you have to build something from nothing. You are going to have to piece a lot of things together on your own, and this test scares people.
How much potential have we lost to the default effect? Still, you need to ask yourself, do you want to get off the safe route? Not a trick question.
If so, the dark knight of failure is going to have to become your friend. You will know him well. Positivity will have to be your guide, and motivational youtube videos your daily spiritual shots of caffeine.
No one can promise you things will be easy. But take a deep breath. You have that urge to create for a reason. Trust it.
Besides, it is those same three ingredients which lead to success on the well-worn path, which achieves the victory of an entrepreneurial struggle. May take a bit more time. Or not. But why not bet on yourself as opposed to what everyone else has already done?
“It is true of the Nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.” ― THEODORE ROOSEVELT
2. THE ‘FAMILY AND LOVED ONES’ CHALLENGE
Beware of GROUPTHINK. We are all caught up in it. Whether it be in politics, the pressure of our peers, the charm and assumed intelligence of well-spoken co-workers, or even amongst our family members. Many of us are too intimidated to challenge the conventional thought of our groups. Going against the grain can be terrifying as we risk exclusion or ridicule.
This is the challenge that haunts.
Your family and friends mean well, but can only understand a life they are willing to settle for. Unfortunately for them, the entrepreneur operates on a wavelength which is counter to this mindset. Being an entrepreneur is precisely the opposite of settling. It’s a fight. And your loved ones will instinctively want to protect you.
You may hear a lot of, “but isn’t your idea like so-so and so.” Or “where are you going to get the money?” Or “what about this other plan that you had before?” And then the strangely painful, “good luck.” Their well-intended doubt will feel condescending.
If you can manage to overcome this trial; if you are not dissuaded from your ideas, use the concern of your family as fuel. Make them proud by showing them real-world possibilities they once considered mere fantasy. Do not let their scepticism fester into your scorn. The entrepreneur’s journey is often a lonely one, but it doesn’t have to be if you look at things the right way. And hey! If everyone one you love supports you, count yourself fortunate.
Your great success is going to depend on your attitude towards the most trivial hurdles.
“Ambition beats genius 99% of the time.” — JAY LENO
3. THE ‘FIRST BIG RISK’ CHALLENGE
Beware the INTROSPECTION ILLUSION. Just because you have had a long, in-depth talk with yourself about your future business does not mean you have all your bases covered. And it indeed does not signify that those who criticize you are less intelligent, less introspective or more cowardly than you are. The world is not against you. Quite the contrary. Be cautious for this challenge. Burn no bridges, plan and question yourself to the prevent regret.
The epiphany of what you’d want to spend the rest of your life doing does not come perfectly timed.
Typically we are in university, about to complete a degree, only to realize that nothing in our textbooks stimulates us as much as what is in our hearts. Or, we are already maintaining steady jobs, which help us recognize work we’d much rather be doing.
To fully commit to your idea will take a lot of preparation that depends on your tolerance for uncertainty.
Do you need to save up a bit longer? Do you have the gonads to drop out of school or is having your degree going to make you feel more confident as you pursue your ambitions?
At some point, you are going to have to brave that first significant risk. You may have to invest some hard earned money, move far away from loved ones, or close a relationship that is holding you back, or change habits. Something will have to give. It is part of the process.
Don’t automatically label yourself a genius. Arrogance is the maker of error. Be humble and consider thoroughly, do you have the stomach to put your life where your mouth is?
“At the age of six, I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.” ― SALVADOR DALÍ
4. THE ‘WHAT HAVE I DONE’ CHALLENGE
Beware the SUNK COST FALLACY. Having spent a lot of money on going one direction is not enough of a justification to stay on the wrong course. As you shape, build and begin to execute your ideas, remain malleable and curious. Rigidity kills the potential of brilliance.
The start of an important concept is like a sugar rush. And like all dramatic bursts of dopamine, there comes a crash of reality. DANG! Perhaps you over-committed. You look back, and you have come too far to abandon ship. You look ahead, and the safe shore of success is nowhere in sight.
All of a sudden cortisol is starting to know every corner of your body as stress increases, the hours of sleep diminish and your enthusiasm is found wanting.
Know that this phase will come. Laugh at it when it does. It is all part of the process. Feel free to ignore it and focus on replenishing your ideas with more creativity and re-intensified diligence.
This is the phase where you start to weed out unnecessary habits from your life, adding purposeful ones. This is the chuck of your life where you begin to understand who you are. You learn things about yourself that you never knew and you grow in ways you never imagined.
When the fear comes, be grateful. Use it to explode through your limits. Don’t let the doubt anchor you to a future of bitterness. No matter when you give up, you will always wish you stuck with it one more day. So don’t quit, re-strategize. You got this!
“Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.” — HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
5. THE ‘KEEP YOUR TRAP SHUT’ CHALLENGE
Beware of the TWADDLE TENDENCY. We tend to ramble more, the less precise our ideas are. Watch out for those that make things sound complicated. They probably don’t get what they are saying either. Hence the rule: if you can’t say it simply, keep thinking. But especially when it comes to your work, trust silence and persistence. Talking is NOT doing.
A massive demotivator when it comes to getting things done is talking about it too much. Your brain has a hard time differentiating your words from your deeds. When you say you are going to do something, you sort of use up that needed excitement that you need to push you through the task. You are going to have to learn to work in silence. Trust me. It makes you much more efficient. And if I am candid, you worry less about looking foolish in front of your peers. They respect you, watching you work more than hearing you speak.
Work, say less, learn from mistakes, and adjust! ALWAYS!
“Say what we will, we may be sure that ambition is an error. Its wear and tear on the heart are never recompensed.” — EDWARD BULWER-LYTTON
6. THE ‘CAN YOU SELL’ CHALLENGE
Beware of the LIKING BIAS. People aren’t always going to agree with the vision you set forth because your idea is brilliant. Your well-received presentation may owe thanks to the fact that you are attractive (this group of individuals tends to make better salespeople). Or perhaps you make people feel like, and in turn, they like you back. But this is your business, don’t settle for the superficiality of a few memorized lines of your sales pitch. Sell your ideas through passion.
Whether it be a talent agent, a banker, an employer, an academic institution, or a potential partner, you are going to have to convince at least one person that your idea makes sense.
You can try to write out all the 30-second elevator pitches you desire, but nothing beats getting to know WHAT you are trying to accomplish, HOW you what to achieve it, and ESPECIALLY WHY it will be of VALUE! VALUE! VALUE! VALUE! You succeed when you make other people’s lives better, your way.
Business never thrives because it sounds good, but rather because it solves problems. VALUE! It can’t be said enough. It should be an obsession. Focus on this as your selling point, along with your differentiating factors.
Don’t concentrate on the fancy terms that you think will impress adults in suits. Let your passion bleed through you and trust that people are smart enough to sense how much work you have put in your idea.
And guess what? There is absolutely, positively, only one way to ooze this sort of energy. You have to do the gruelling work.
Ideas come to life when you make them your life. You have to uncover all the pertinent details, in regards to your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. Show that your expectations are driven by careful research.
Don’t be afraid to give every spare moment to your ambitions. The convincing sales pitch will come on its own.
“Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine.” — ELVIS PRESLEY
7. THE ‘PRIDE’ CHALLENGE
Beware of HOFSTADTER’S LAW. Things are always going to take longer than you expect. Including your business idea. Don’t get frustrated and don’t bruise the ego.
Just because things don’t happen exactly when you want them too does not mean you have failed. It may also help to remember that a failure is not who you are, it is just one of the many random events of life. Don’t be discouraged.
If your goals haven’t been achieved, it only means you have not attained the entire skillset needed to make them happen. Don’t panic. There is time and ways of leveraging your entrepreneurial ability.
If you have been working diligently, putting new knowledge into practice, then you will have attained a decent amount of skills to offer a company in your industry.
Thus, if progress for your business idea is taking longer than you expected, you may want to look at a part-time job as a vital internship needed to help you level up. Your passion for the work you have been developing will also be a much desired asset for that company. So set your pride aside and apply, the extra savings may come in handy.
Working for a company that may have achieved success in your field may open your now well-trained eyes to details you may have missed.
Plus you never know who you are going to meet. Don’t worry about what everyone else may think about the dreamer who suddenly needed to work for much less than she was earning. Do what you have to.
You are going to have to get your ego out of the way. Your idea is worth the sacrifice.
“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.” ― MAYA ANGELOU
8. THE ‘ARE YOU SURE’ CHALLENGE
Beware of ACTION BIAS. To impress onto others that we are busy or active, we often act impulsively. We want to do something, anything. Even if we are making the wrong decision, or are being counterproductive. The perception of action is that important to us.
For this challenge, you need to stop. Stop to think. It could save you from the biggest mistake of your life.
This one is one of the more difficult challenges to overcome. It throws its weight after you have dragged yourself through all the stress of the other tribulations. This is the challenge that promises to make all your problems go away if only you’d let go of your original plan. You start to ask yourself, “Do I need to make this happen, am I sure?”
After some time, there will be someone who wants to offer you the opportunity to make your talents a part of their vision or project.
Or an opportunity will come by way of a stable 9- 5. The future will seem more relaxed. You will think about your parents and the sigh of relief they will breathe. You will think about all the friends that doubted you and start to make up respectable reasons about why you decided to change life goals. You will fantasize about waking up with less pressure, and you will be tempted to jump onto the trodden path.
You may even start to be a bit spiritual, saying things like, “maybe I was supposed to go through all this so I would be ready for this job.”
This will be a crucial point in your life.
Do what you feel is best. But know that the temptation will come. Hopefully, it helps that you have been given a chance to prepare for it.
Are you sure you want to continue fighting for your business?
“Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.” — RALPH WALDO EMERSON
9. THE ‘CAN YOU HANG ON’ CHALLENGE
Beware, YOU are far more capable than you could ever believe.
You prove to your ideas that you are committed, after overcoming years of challenges, and suddenly things start to fall into place. All the work you have done begins to make sense. You look back and can’t find any wasted energy. The difficult times suddenly seem beautiful when played again in the theatre of your memories.
Plus, you know yourself and your work so well that its place in society is as clear as day to you. It is a feeling you can’t describe, a certainty that requires no proof.
Keep going, throw yourself intelligently into opportunities. You have soaked in enough wisdom by now. Confidently introduce your ideas to influencers, time to get yourself out there in a big way.
This is the point where you begin to take chances that once terrified you. This is the point where you double your work ethic.
“Ambition is so powerful a passion in the human breast, that however high we reach we are never satisfied.” — HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
Rely on the discipline that got you to where you are. You have learned the habits that work. You have a keen sense of what needs to be done. Your business almost becomes a sixth sense. At this point, hanging on is all about remaining consistent. No days off!
The rest of your life is about to be a wild roller coaster ride with no seatbelt. The only challenge is for you to dream bigger and hang on.