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What it Really Takes to Be an Entrepreneur

Before you quit your day job, make sure you’re ready for the road ahead.

My entrepreneur journey started abruptly.

I quit my job without warning, without a plan, and without knowing how exactly I was going to make money.

But at the time, I didn’t care. I was SO done with being burnt out, being taken for granted, and being relied heavily upon because I was one of the employees that actually did their job plus helped others do theirs.

I was exhausted, drained, and downright upset.

My lifelong dream was to be my own boss. Yet, at 25 years old, I hadn’t begun my entrepreneur journey yet.

I was facing my Quarter-life crisis, (yes, that really is a thing), and decided to immediately effect change in my life.

So I quit my job, moved out of state, and began a new life.

As an entrepreneur.

Fear set in when I realized I had no idea what to do.

I wasn’t a business major, I didn’t have a college degree or any “special” qualifications other than the multitudes of adversity I had already faced from a young age.

Overall, I didn’t know how entrepreneurs made themselves a success. I knew it wasn’t luck, but I didn’t know the road to take.

It seemed like I didn’t have a clear path ahead.

And after 2 months of dicking around, not fully committing to any one thing, I started looking for part-time work.

That’s when I learned the first lesson I hope to help you avoid.

1. Plan Ahead

Do your research now. At the first sign of desiring to become an entrepreneur, start looking for information for free online.

At the very least, start when you’re awareEven if that means today.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t as easy as some people seem to think. It’s actually MUCH harder than a traditional job.

At a traditional job, you already have the place you work at, the clientele who come to you, the systems that you work with, the operations that create efficiency, the pay scale that is reliable, and the ease of having to do only ONE job position.

As a new entrepreneur, you — and only you — are the one person doing everything.

Don’t leave the details to chance.

You won’t be able to accommodate for everything, however, you CAN set yourself up better by being more prepared with plans.

Here’s a list of questions to help get you started in your search:

  • What niche are you planning to start in? Do you know what a niche is?
  • Are you mentally and emotionally prepared to face failure after failure until you reach success down the line?
  • What platforms do you like? Which medium of content do you want to create?
  • Who do you want to help? Do you know anyone that could use your help right now?
  • What type of services are you going to create? Do you want to be product-based or service-based?
  • Who is your support system? Do you have friends, family, acquaintances, or groups of people to help support you along the journey?
  • How often are you going to learn and improve yourself to give your entrepreneurship journey a better chance at succeeding?

This list is not all-encompassing, but it’s a list I would’ve been grateful to have at the beginning of my own journey.

Start mulling these thoughts over, building your knowledge base, and planning for the time you start your journey.

Don’t wait forever to start, but jumping in right away isn’t always the best option. Find the place in the middle that works for you.

After I had to get a part-time job for 3 months, I was ready to start at it again.

I had done some research and learned some skills, I had a vague plan of action and began the 2nd attempt.

This attempt lasted longer than the first, at 4 months of solid effort.

This leads to the second lesson I hope to help you avoid.

2. Pride loses. Perseverance wins.

I was so sure that the 2nd attempt would be successful.

So sure, that I was blind to what was actually happening.

I didn’t enjoy the niche I chose. My audience wasn’t responding to the content I was putting out. I was drained, burnt out, and exhausted all over again.

But I begrudgingly held onto this attempt for as long as I could, before I watched it crash and burn.

I’m thankful it did though. I learned a lot during this experience.

I was able to compare my experience with this 2nd attempt to the 1st attempt.

I learned that I didn’t want to be in that niche, so I was able to pivot.

I learned that having pride was holding me back and keeping me blind.

I learned that I didn’t fully enjoy the platform I was on.

And little by little, I was revealing to myself what this journey would need of me more than anything else…

Perseverance.

It’s not something you’re born with. It’s something you choose.

You choose to continue forward; you choose to keep going when you’re faced with challenges, and you choose to forge on, even when you seem to fail over and over again.

Perseverance is by far the most needed trait of an entrepreneur.

Perseverance is what propels you to try again and again, even when it doesn’t look perfect.

Perseverance is what drives you to learn how to do something when you knew nothing about it previously.

Perseverance is what keeps the spark of joy alive in your heart when you set your goal and attempt to reach it.

The only way you could ever lose — or truly “fail” — is when you choose to give up altogether.

Keep going, and you will make it.

After the 2nd attempt, I got another job, this time a full-time one.

I had planned to only stay for less than 6 months, but 3 months in is when the big C hit in the USA in 2020.

Amid mass shutdowns, I was given the time to begin my 3rd attempt.

And my 3rd attempt is where everything changed.

This lesson I learned as I went, and thankfully it didn’t stop me in my journey, it merely shifted my path as I moved forward.

3. Pivot, Pivot, Pivot

If you’re a fan of the Friends series, you may remember the episode where Ross, Chandler, and Rachel are moving Ross’s new couch and he consistently says “Pivot! Pivot! Pivoottt!”

This is the word I want you to remember when you feel stuck on your journey.

Change is inevitable; and we grow through changes.

Pivoting in business is as common as bread at an Italian Restaurant.

Get as comfortable with change as you possibly can.

In the first few years of being an entrepreneur, there are going to be massive growing pains.

There are multitudes of skills you’re learning.

There’s knowledge that seems never-ending.

And there’s the possibility that what you choose to niche in, solve, or brand yourself as will change.

Let yourself change. Choose to pivot. Choose to shift your path instead of giving up entirely.

It’s likely that your first idea won’t succeed. Or your second. Or third. Or fourth. Maybe not even until your 30th.

It’s different for everyone. But knowing this upfront can help soothe your mind when or if it does happen to you.

For me, I failed over 30 times before I found my niches.

Yes, niches. Plural.

I’m currently the CEO of 4 businesses. I’m a creative entrepreneur, and I like variety. It took me a while to figure it out, but I did.

And that’s the point.

I allowed myself to pivot so many times that I found the things I wanted to specialize in.

I found the platforms I enjoy.

I found the niches that both light me up and allow me to help others.

All because I allowed myself to Pivot.

I failed fast so I could begin again fast. I attempted and attempted and attempted.

Did I doubt myself at times? Yes.

Did I have breakdowns and moments of despair? You bet.

Did I allow it to stop me? Absolutely not.

This is one of the reasons in the list above I included the question about your support system.

In my times of breakdowns, I consulted the people I trusted. Not for them to give me business advice, but for them to help me see my strengths again.

The entrepreneur journey doesn’t have to always be alone. Yes, it is you that is the sole person working towards your dream, but there are people ready to support you if you ask.

Entrepreneurship is a journey that is like nothing else.

It’s liberating, motivating, thrilling, and fulfilling.

And if you cultivate and incorporate these skills and lessons, you will reach success as an entrepreneur.

You can make your dream a reality.

So plan ahead in a way that feels correct for you.

Don’t let pride get in the way.

Persevere through the perceived failures.

Accept change as a standard in life.

Pivot when needed.

And, above all, never ever give up on your dream.

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.