Lots of aspiring entrepreneurs wonder whether starting their own business is a worthwhile life strategy.
Why take all these risks? Shouldn’t I settle for a regular paycheck with benefits, paid leave, and job security?
These are the voices you often hear from the land of cubicles. And there is nothing wrong with them. Entrepreneurship is risky, painful, and arduous.
Whether entrepreneurship suits you ultimately depends on your willingness to accept the hurdles caused by being your own boss.
The most common entrepreneurial obstacles concern 6 axioms.
These are the 6 principles you should consider when embarking on your journey to independence.
1. The 1,000-day rule
Happy days, you’ve read The 4-Hour Workweek and fallen in love with the idea of “lifestyle design.”
You have internalized the concepts of Pareto, automation, geo-arbitrage, and delegation. You’re ready to venture out into the world with a great business idea and the tools to make it succeed.
I don’t want to crush your dreams.
As a matter of fact, I believe in Tim Ferriss’ methods. Many of them have yielded remarkable results for my businesses over the years.
As an example, I saved hundreds of hours by streamlining my client response process — freeing up time to focus on the actual business.
In that same vein, I love the idea of replacing unproductive, monotonous office hours with passionate endeavors such as skydiving and flirting in Brazilian Portuguese.
There is, however, one critical element missing from Ferriss’ bestseller: the 1,000-day rule.
First established by TropicalMBA, the 1,000-day rule has gained a lot of recognition over the years.
According to this theory, it will take 1,000 days before you are better off with your business than you were in your corporate job.
Consequently, your business will need 3 years before becoming successful enough to enable you to fully design the content of your life and to “live the dream.”
Especially when it comes to online business, most ventures require huge time investments before making any dollars.
This was the case for my travel blog. It took 2 years before getting significant traffic and 3 years before consistently making over 1,000 $ a month.
After that, I failed to devise a new growth strategy and the blog stagnated.
I should stress that I worked on this blog for at least 5 hours a day throughout its 4-year existence. You don’t need to be a mathematician to see that this was an appalling hourly rate.
Unsurprisingly, I became demotivated after 3.5 years and sold most of its content to other blogs and freelance clients in late 2019.
Even though I made a decent chunk by selling off the blog’s best-performing articles, I now see this venture as a case of misjudged expectations.
The blog is now obsolete but I have learned my lesson: the road to success is long and onerous, and you have to be prepared to suffer for 3 years before spending the bulk of your time living life to the fullest.
2. The perfect lifestyle does not exist
In 2018, I had my first taste of success with dropshipping, blogging, and freelance writing.
3 years in the making, I was finally able to spend a few months on the road pursuing my greatest passion: globetrotting.
At the same time, one of my best friends opened up a modern fusion restaurant, a long-time dream of his.
For 5 years, he had been eking out a living behind the counter of his rusty food truck, handling everything from cooking to logos and taxes himself.
After I returned home from 3 months of non-stop thrill-seeking in Asia, we met up at his newly-opened fusion joint. The discussion was eye-opening.
Both of us had fulfilled our dreams and achieved our goals. We had become independent in our mid-20s, something most people can only dream of.
And yet, between funny travel tales and connoisseur gourmet talk, we both couldn’t help but mention our problems.
Running a restaurant with 15 employees is more stressful than a one-man food truck enterprise. A textbook example of the challenge of expansion.
Traveling while keeping an online business afloat is possibly the toughest way of roaming the planet — certainly more demanding than an all-inclusive vacation on annual leave. My First World problems…
Even though none of us is the complaining type, we both had an epiphany: no lifestyle is perfect. You can’t have the cake and eat it too.
Whichever life you choose, it comes with frustrations:
- The mobile entrepreneur faces travel challenges, language barriers, cultural difficulties, and visa runs.
- The stationary business owner has to manage his staff, locales, and customers daily.
- The corporate employee may get a worry-free beach vacation from time to time, but he will only escape the corporate shackles for a couple of weeks per year.
3. There is no such thing as an overnight success
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” — Steve Jobs
As with the 1,000-day rule, be prepared for a hard lesson in patience. No matter the field of business, continuity is one of the main pillars of entrepreneurship.
In this context, I could name a million examples of pure, unattractive continuity that led to long-term success.
Thomas Edison tried out over 10,000 light bulbs before discovering a formula that worked.
Arianna Huffington got rejected by 36 publishers. Walt Disney was fired from several newspapers for his supposed lack of creativity. And the list goes on.
All of these stories have one thing in common: continuity. If you are convinced by what you do, the only way to succeed is to build habits and to stick with them for as long as it takes.
As demonstrated by most successful business ventures, patience and perseverance are worth much more than talent and creativity.
4. Freedom is impossible without responsibility
Many would-be entrepreneurs are enchanted by the idea of freedom.
Freedom is a double-edged sword. Yes, as an entrepreneur, your decision-making power goes up and you will have more freedom when it comes to choosing your location and co-workers.
There is, however, one sine qua non for freedom: responsibility. Let’s say you’ve miscalculated a client rate in your corporate job.
Your boss might reprimand you, but it is improbable that you will have this loss deducted from your salary.
As an entrepreneur, any mistake or false estimation will have a direct impact on your earnings. Consequently, a minor error on your part might cancel your next holidays.
Entrepreneurial freedom is a tempting concept, but it will only play in your favor if you can shoulder the responsibility and corresponding risk.
5. Failure is inevitable
“Fall seven times and stand up eight.” — Japanese Proverb
On par with the importance of continuity, failure is essential.
No matter how talented you are, you will fail in one way or another. This should by no means discourage you from starting your own business.
Nobody is infallible or omniscient. The major challenge is to reap the benefits of failures.
Think of it this way: 99.999 percent of the world doesn’t care about your failure. For the vast majority of people on this planet, your failure is a neutral occurrence. Neither good nor bad.
For yourself, however, your failure can have a drastic impact on the future of your business and maybe even your life.
This is why you have to analyze your failures and identify their roots. When the reasons are clear, you’ll learn how to spot signs of similar impending failures in the future. This will help you prevent them.
As an example, I once lost a freelance client midway through a writing gig because I failed to properly negotiate a service rate upfront.
I had learned from a previous client that hourly rates were a bad idea for short writing projects.
These 2 mistakes had a very instructive effect. From that point on, I always set a clear project price before starting, and never again lost clients halfway through a job.
Consequently, you should embrace failures instead of dreading them. Nobody succeeds 100% of the time.
But the ones who succeed 90% of the time are usually the ones who have learned from previous mistakes by implementing the lessons in their subsequent projects.
6. Entrepreneurship is one of the best pathways to personal growth
I spent 5 years in college and dabbled with side hustles for most of that time. Only 2 turned out to become viable business ventures.
Nevertheless, if you asked me today whether I learned more through college or online business failures, the answer would be unequivocal.
There are things you can learn at school and things you can learn by working in the corporate world.
There are, however, journeys to personal growth that only ensue if you are fully independent, responsible, and willing to fail.
Being an entrepreneur is harder than being an employee but also more rewarding. You receive a direct reward for positive and negative decisions.
As an employee, your reward for positive decisions will be indirect as somebody else will obtain the direct benefit — the firm’s extra income for example.
If you screw up, on the other hand, your “reward” will be direct. You will be fired.
If you screw up as an entrepreneur, your direct reward will be a lesson — a stop on your personal development route.
To end on a positive note, I strongly believe in personality development through experience and I also believe that entrepreneurship is the most potent catalyst for personal growth.
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