Entrepreneurship can be very rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. Often times when embarking on this journey, it is easy to underestimate the challenges and obstacles. Many aspiring entrepreneurs set out with the notion that they’ll work on their own schedule, set their own terms and have a sense of relief and freedom from corporate structure.
Important to any entrepreneur is self-discipline and it may be one of the hardest disciplines to master. While many envision sliding into a lifestyle based on their own terms, it does not happen overnight. As entrepreneurs, it’s imperative to remain on task, efficient, structured and more importantly, organized. If rising entrepreneurs can navigate through the five pitfalls detailed below, they’ll be setting themselves up for success.
1—Feeling of uncertainty and embarking into the unknown: Congratulations, you have made the decision to start a business, so you already have an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s exciting, it’s scary and can bring on a lot of uncertainty. You’ll have high and low points but one thing you must always keep in mind, is the hustle mentality. While we hear about the benefits, we typically tune out when it comes to understand the hard work and time. Your hustle needs to strategically align with what is needed to run and operate a smooth business practice. You’re setting long- and short-term objectives, not just thinking about the day-to-day. Be real with yourself and your expectations.
2—Managing everything: Not having a boss is liberating until you realize you are now in charge of everything. This means greater accountability, the need to manage workflows and ensuring that work is done on time. By knowing how much you can handle, you will be able to offset the problem of taking on too much. One of the ways to do this is to find platforms that make managing your business easier. My Wix website not only serves as a public facing domain, but through Wix’s management tools I am able to handle my email marketing, online marketing, databases, and content. It makes it easier for me to do everything from one place fluidly, while maintaining my high standards.
3—Loneliness: Being a solopreneur can often leave you feeling lonely in your day-to-day. People tend to overlook this when deciding to start their own business. You’ll be working a lot of hours alone, outside of the typical busy office environment and with the company of colleagues. Since being an entrepreneur is a singular position you will need to readjust and realign your mentality of working independently without team members. Prepare yourself mentally, be mindful and interact with others throughout the day regularly. Seek out public spots like coffee shops, libraries and places you can frequent and remember to network and maintain your contacts and industry peers.
4—Be true to yourself: One problem for solopreneurs today is that their business structures often try to mimic those of successful corporations. Setting unrealistic goals beyond your organizational structure can set you up for failure. It’s important that your structure supports and aligns with your business model. The right tools will enable you to be competitive and it’s important to use these to your best advantage. Look for the business management solutions, including a comprehensive CRM, email marketing and social media marketing tools, that work for your business and help you reach your monthly- and long-term goals.
Also, be realistic about your capacity: if you are limited to specific number of clients or projects per month for instance, then your business structure needs to reflect that. Don’t be afraid to say no. By being upfront with yourself and with your clients, you can better manage your time, meet deadlines and set yourself up for success!
5—Being told “no”: The word ‘no’ can be our best friend, whether you are a solopreneur or not. This goes back to the hustler mentality which can hold you back at times. When the hustler mentality is turned on, people can overextend themselves, doing anything and everything to make money, which often means stretching yourself too thin. A successful business owner is a person who has a clearly defined structure and realistic goals. A strategic mindset will help you develop a sustainable business model and saying ‘no’ to projects you do not have time for, or the resources in place to complete, is part of your growth.
Natasha Lee Maxwell is the founder of Make Your Dreams Come True, where she provides business support services to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies, including branding, design, marketing and more.