Many people aspire to start a business. They crave the freedom of being their own boss and are drawn to the allure of unlimited income potential.
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While you should approach entrepreneurship with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enthusiasm, you shouldn’t go into it with rose-colored glasses. Society tends to glamorize owning a business, but in reality it’s an intensely challenging journey.
According to the Chamber of Commerce, nearly 20% of small businesses fail during their first year. Half of the companies fold within five years.
If you’re a business owner in the making, you may be able to avoid that fate by taking in the wisdom of others who have walked the path before you. We asked five entrepreneurs, and they each shared things they wished they had known before starting their own business. Here are their insights, in no particular order.
It’s a Hard and Lonely Journey
Jim Wang, founder of the personal finance blog Wallet Hacks, says, “It’s really hard and lonely, even if you have partners and employees. When it’s your business, you’re responsible for everything, and there are no easy answers.”
He added, “You spend a lot of time wondering if you’re making the right choice, and oftentimes there’s no one else to talk to about it. It helps to join mastermind groups and networking groups, but ultimately, it’s your business, so you’re the one who has to make hard choices.”
Progress Isn’t Linear, It’s ‘Volatile’
“As you grow your business, it’s not a nice line that goes up. It’s really bumpy and volatile, which can be stressful. You’ll hit plateaus, you’ll take dips, but hopefully, the line is up and to the right. It’s just really, really bumpy. This can be an emotional and psychological drain because our brains don’t like uncertainty, and business is basically all uncertainty,” said Wang.
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Friends & Family Can Only Provide Limited Support
Wang continued, “Your friends and family will be nice, and they might bring a little business, but it won’t last. It’s their job to support you emotionally, but you can’t rely on them to support you financially (or you will lose them!).”
You Should ‘Ignore the Noise’
John Pham, founder of The Money Ninja, says, “I own a personal finance brand that helps people maximize their finances. If I had to do it all over again, I would focus solely on the core business and ignore the noise about the need to build a social media presence. Customers are looking for reasons to listen to you, not for how many likes you get on TikTok. Social media is important, but the priority of a new business is to build authority and legitimacy.”
You Can Never Have Too Many Resources
Forrest Baumhover, CFP, EA, and owner of Teach Me Personal Finance, believes he has a sound business plan. However, he says, “Even if you think you’ve covered all the risks as a business owner, you can never have too much money for emergencies or opportunities. Even if you have enough money, you’ll never stop worrying about your business. This is true even if you’re doing all right.”
Success Requires Persistence
Monica Louie, Facebook and Instagram ads strategist, agency owner and speaker, said that when her first blogging business started, “it was a lot harder than it seemed.” She noticed the same thing as she transitioned into Facebook and Instagram ads strategy.
“While it isn’t easy to get a business off the ground, I wish I’d known that it’s the people who stick with it who ultimately end up finding success,” says Louie. She now advises her clients on this entrepreneurial truth.
She says, “Many of my most successful clients had a slow start, but they kept with it — learning, growing and trying new things — until, eventually, everything fell into place. People like to sell the success, but they don’t talk enough about the failures, the persistence, the tenacity, the dedication, and the determination that’s required to stick with it for the long haul.”
She concluded, “Certainly, some people achieve success sooner than others, but for most of us, it’ll take some time, trial and error, and mistakes along the way. For those who see it through until the end, though, doing what you love for a living gives you a sense of fulfillment that you just can’t replicate in any other way.”
A Solid Foundation From the Start Makes Everything Easier
Lauren Bowling, content marketer and blogger behind Financial Best Life, started freelancing in 2013. She says, “It was very much ‘learn as you go.’ I didn’t get anything in advance: an LLC, a separate bank account, a website, [or a] separate email…nothing.”
But Bowling was better prepared when she launched her real estate investment business in 2020. She says, “I made sure to have everything ‘buttoned up’ from a business/legal perspective before officially starting my first [real estate] flip, and it made every aspect of day-to-day management easier.”
Itching To Start Your Own Business?
We don’t want to bring you all doom and gloom, focusing only on the potential pitfalls of entrepreneurship. If you’re considering starting your own business, we encourage you to do so.
Many people would argue that it’s easier than ever to launch your enterprise. In fact, it’s possible to get started with as little as $20 (and potentially for no money at all).
For starters, you can quickly get your company off the ground by building an online presence. You can also become a business owner at every stage of life — from student to retire — so don’t let excuses get in the way if starting your own business is a goal you wish you achieve.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Own Business