Entrepreneurship is indeed fun, rewarding and freeing. Roughly two in every three Gen Y-ers have aspirations of going into business for themselves and about 18% of them are actually doing it. Millennials fit into the role of a self-starter easily for a number of reasons; they are digital natives, with heady career dreams and a job market that has taught them to think outside the box — because they might not be hired within it very quickly.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as packing your bindle and moving to a garage to found your startup. Even Gen Y-ers who aren’t keen on starting their own businesses are facing insurmountable financial obstacles, including ridiculous student loan debt and low or no credit scores.
Here are the 7 Hard truths about being a young entrepreneur,
1. Be prepared to be the “Youngest in Charge”
It can be intimidating to be the “boss” of someone who has been in the workforce longer than you. Hierarchy comes in all shapes and forms. Remember that these people are on your team because they believe in you and in the product and mission. You can earn their trust and respect through a collaborative learning process, where you engage in an exchange of information and ideas, unfettered by titles or age.
2. Your “new” idea may be neither good nor original
Even if there isn’t an equivalent product out there, it’s usually just a matter of time until there is. Unless you are a world-renowned expert in your field, it’s far more likely that others have had the same idea and that several of them are working on it right now. And, so what? A realistic outlook should focus on implementation: design, distribution, the team and keeping the competition in sight. The idea itself? Well, ideas are a dime a dozen.
3. You may actually be doomed
There may be some unknown fact about your product idea, its users, the marketplace or the competition. There may be doubt about your own or your partner’s motivation, which will ensure the failure of your venture. Meanwhile, that unknown fact could be out there right now, waiting for you to discover it. Yet you don’t know it, and to find it, you must proceed with your plan until reality hits you in the face.
4. You won’t be the highest paid
So many new entrepreneurs have grandiose visions of making huge amounts of money. Perhaps some will. For most, though, it will take years, probably decades. To build an amazing empire, you need the best sales team and staff, and this will require you to invest funds.
When you find a person who can take your empire to the next level, you will be the first to give up your own paycheck to hire them because that’s what entrepreneurship is about.
5. Work-life balance is impossible
In the building stages of a business, seeking work-life balance is futile. Work will become your life. You’ll wake in the middle of the night worrying that you should have handled something better or jumped on an opportunity faster. There is no 9-to-5 to building a business, only 24/7. Yes, you will spend time at home and even on vacation, but you will always be on, thinking about your business.
6. Someone won’t like you
The hardest lesson for me was this: The bigger the empire, the more enemies are made. For most entrepreneurs, it’s a tough thing to realize. That’s not to say you won’t have legions of supporters because you absolutely will. But there will always be people who won’t like the way you do things, the decisions you make or the direction you’re headed in. For some entrepreneurs, this is spirit breaking.
7. You will have to let go of your emotions
Entrepreneurship is not a game for people who wear their heart on their sleeves. It’s a game for people who are able to suppress their emotions and make the decisions that are best for the company based on logic and data. There will be times when you hire someone who you really like and then have to fire them because they are not performing. It’s not an easy truth to swallow, but it is the truth.