You already know being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, which is why slipping on that comfortable pair of rose colored glasses from time to time is tempting. Unfortunately, the sooner you learn a few hard truths about being a trailblazer, the sooner you can avoid a few of the unnecessary bumps and bruises. There will come a time—many of them—where a vital decision is pending and your decision will make or break the business. It’s very common for a founder not consider all potential options, and to even choose the “wrong one” that everyone is telling him or her is the wrong one. When this happens, the startup might “survive” for a little longer, but it will eventually fail.
A lot of startups fall short of their potential because of the reality of two reasons. Refusing to make tough choices and not being realistic dooms a small business before it even has a chance at thriving. Usually, these actions are a part of human failure, not the failure of a business plan or the business itself. “Hard truths” can be the poison in a startup, and it’s usually the founder wielding it. For starters, entrepreneurs need to realize it’s not about them—oftentimes they let their ego get in the way. There are many times being in your position will make you feel stupid and unimportant, which is the opposite of how you thought starting a business would make you feel. You may be embarrassed to let go of a partner, and it seems so painful that you just avoid it (to the demise of your company.) Here are a few more instances where human failure is common:
You suddenly have a bunch of new bosses
You’re the founder, so why are you answering to oodles of bosses instead of answering just to yourself? That’s not what the American dream was supposed to look like, right? An entrepreneur is never their own boss. In fact, they have more bosses than anyone else. Clients, investors, partners, and even employees can (and will!) tell you what to do. And you need to listen.
Understand your idea might not be unique or good
A lot of entrepreneurs think their ideas are revolutionary, but they rarely are. Even if your idea is technically new, it won’t be for long. Scores of people have probably already come up with your idea or they’re in the midst of it. The real key to success is in how you implement it. Ideas in and of themselves are actually pretty useless.
You have no time
The sooner you accept this fact, the better. You have a lot of plans, but they’ll always take longer than you think. Focus on what you can do now and do your best at it. Next up? Test those ideas. Focus is an entrepreneur’s best friend.
Your plan is terrible
If you don’t plan, you won’t succeed. A startup environment is unpredictable. Rules may change, competitors may surprise you, people will disappoint you, and you need to roll with the punches. You’re operating on a lot of assumptions, and that environment can be volatile. Plan to adapt, react, and have a major plan that you will bounce back… you need to make the “bounce back” decision your first plan of action.
Finally, remember that failure is common and likely to happen to you in one way or another. Entrepreneurs cannot be idealists, (well, never mind, what I should say is, entrepreneurs ARE idealists), so take off those rosy glasses (at least when you are doing your reality check.) It’s time to get real with how your startup works.