Like anything in life, changing careers has its fair share of hurdles that you need to vault in order to succeed. Some of the hurdles are just part of the transition process and are expected, while others will come as a surprise. When you are working your regular nine-to-five job you may think that life will be so much better and easier once you become an entrepreneur, but the reality is that while things are different, things are going to be a lot harder than you expected them to be.
Taking the leap of faith: The first hurdle is the hardest for many people, and that’s taking the first step. Reality starts to sink in when you are on the brink of making the move. You realize that you are giving up a regular paycheck, your paid benefits and your paid vacation. You realize everything is now on your shoulders, and it’s scary. This realization is what stops a lot of people from moving forward.
You get paid last: When you are an employee and hear about how much your company brought in in a single day, or the big contract they just signed, you see dollar signs in your eyes and imagine that’s how much the owner is making. That’s simply not true. Sure, the business may have made a lot in one day, and the contract looks good on paper, but there are bills and taxes to pay, checks to sign, salaries to hand out and the rest of the overhead. At the end of the day everyone gets paid before you, which means everyone you hired is potentially taking home more than you. This can go on for weeks, months and even years as the business starts up, and it can be pretty demoralizing.
It’s all up to you: While being the boss may have been one of the driving factors for you to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur in the first place, the reality of it doesn’t really start to sink in until after you’ve jumped into it. You get all the credit when things go right but take all the blame when they don’t. When there is a problem, there is no one else to handle it. When something needs to be resolved, you need to come up with the solution. You need to be the expert in all aspects of your business, because no one else will be.
People rely on you: Odds are you won’t be the only one relying on the success of your business. You will more than likely hire people to deal with the day to day functions of the company, and you need to look after them. You need to make sure they get paid on time and get enrolled in the right benefits plan. You will be the one responsible for hiring and firing people, and if the business doesn’t do so well, you will be the one responsible for laying them off. You hold their livelihood, and the livelihood of their families, in your hands. It’s a big responsibility you really don’t, or can’t, understand until you are in the thick of things.
You are the bottleneck: When things are delayed, or the company is being held back, odds are it’s your fault. Bottlenecks always happen at the top, and whether you know it or not, it’s your fault. Maybe you have a blind spot and no one is telling you about it, or maybe you do see it but are afraid to take the next step or don’t think it’s important. Finding a mentor you can trust can help, so can hiring an employee who isn’t afraid to speak their mind.
You wear many hats: Not only do you have to play many roles in the business for it to succeed, but there are many roles you didn’t think of either. You need to be the cheerleader who keeps the team energized and motivated, as well as the psychologist who can help your employees be the best they can be. Sometimes you will need to hand hold them when they’ve had a bad day. Above all you need to be the leader. You need to be front and center, showing them how hard you work, and not hiding behind a desk. Even when you are having a bad day, never let them see you sweat.
The bigger you grow, the harder it is: No one wants to tell you things can only get harder, but in the case of running a business, that is usually the way it is. As the business grows, everything gets more complicated. Your job will get more demanding and the headaches will get bigger. Hopefully you have some employees you can trust by the time it gets really big, but even if you do, you still need to be the hardest worker. Don’t fret though, eventually the business will become what you thought it would be, it just takes time to get there.
The list of hurdles you will or might face may seem to go on and on, but once you get used to vaulting them, they won’t seem as high as you once thought they were. Transitioning from employee to entrepreneur is a challenging task, but one that is well worth it in the end. The benefits well outweigh the challenges, and the result can be extremely rewarding.