It appears to be the in-thing nowadays for young men and ladies to finish their undergraduate or graduate studies and be swept away by the wave of entrepreneurship. Everyone seems to be excited about launching a startup and building their own business over time instead of seeking employment. But what I do not understand is why all the fuss with starting a business when starting and running a business sucks! There are a myriad of challenges faced young entrepreneurs starting out on the journey of entrepreneurship and building their dream business empires.
It all starts with a clear vision of what the long term goal is in terms of the new innovation you want to introduce to your industry of choice, the impact you want to create in the society and the huge amount of money you want to accumulate over the years as your business grows. Other reasons for starting your own business could be you want to be your own boss and be in control of your life without having bosses to report to. Yet still, some young men and ladies start their own enterprises out of their passions and grow them into big commercial ventures over time. All in all, the end goal is starting a business in pursuit of happiness.
Challenges in pursuit of happiness
But the journey of an entrepreneur is not always glamourous; there are a lot of barriers to overcome and deep trenches to avoid. It is a risky adventure that only the strongest can survive. In one day you could be struggling to beat your completion in your local market, while the next day you are struggling to get funding for your business to finance urgent working capital needs. In a different day you could be dealing with underperforming employees who now want a pay hike; while the following day you have to confront the government red tape when paying taxes and getting all the required licenses for your business.
In business, customer is king. Customer tastes and preferences keep changing over time and to remain in business, you need to keep changing with them as they evolve. But getting to know when your customer tastes and preferences are changing is not an easy thing either; you need to keep your ears on the ground and have a sound customer relations system to get real-time feed from users of your products or services. Remember without the customers you will be out of your business in a second; so keeping them happy and satisfied is the rule of the game. With so many other suitors offering differentiated products in the market targeting your customer segment, running your startup gets even tougher than you expected.
Internally, you must keep a close eye on the running of all your business operations and ensure they are seamlessly flowing with minimal resource wastage. Your goal is to be as efficient as you can since your small business is still crawling financially before you develop strong financial muscles to cover your monthly expenses fully. Streamlining your business processes takes a lot of time and effort too since you have to keep iterating until you find that one system that optimizes your whole business process from the inputs end to the outputs end. Managing your team of employees is also an art you need to develop; since creation and maintaining of healthy working relationships with your team ensures that your customers are happy, and hence you remain in business to see another day as an entrepreneur.
With all activities needing your attention, you rarely find enough time to sleep. Your life revolves around your business and you end up spending more hours working 6 – 7 days a week; compared to your peers in employment who work from 9am – 5pm for 5 days a week. Your work-life balance often becomes imbalanced and social circles suffer from your absence.
With this kind of a tough life, I wonder why anyone ever dreams of being an entrepreneur as compared to being an obedient employee and climb the corporate ladder peacefully!
The reward of hard-work
However, looking at it from the entrepreneur’s perspective, the story is narrated differently. In the founder’s mind, the end justifies the means; the aspirations of a better world tomorrow drive the motives of hard-work today. The joy of creating huge social and economic impact in the society kills the pain from the daily struggles; and the vision of an empowered community, fuels the engine of entrepreneurship when tough economic winds blow.
An entrepreneur is a change maker and they derive their joy from filling a gap in the society or solving a problem that the community faces. If you were to doubt that entrepreneurship is a noble venture, just think about how life would be without Henry Ford and the assembly line innovation or without Thomas Edison and his light bulb invention.