I would never discourage anyone from starting their own business and going out on their own, but I do think it is important to have all the facts before making the leap. Becoming an entrepreneur is easy, succeeding as an entrepreneur is really, really hard.

Here are just a few things you can expect.

  1. Work/life balance will never be achieved. As a business owner you are always on, you have to be as issues and opportunities will pop up at all ours of the day or night. A recent Small Biz Musings blog talks about the myth of work/life balance. It will be important to have a conversation with the significant other in your life to prepare them for your soon-to-be crazy schedule. You will need their support and understanding.
  2. Your schedule is no longer your own. If a potential client wants to grab drinks at 6:00 p.m., then you will be grabbing drinks at 6:00 p.m. If they want to meet for a 7:00 a.m. meeting because it works best with their schedule…then you will meet them at that time. If you want to land a contract, you need to do whatever it takes. That won’t always be the case, but in the beginning you need to show up and crush it.
  3. Cashflow will always freak you out. Your financials will always hang over your head, you will find that you go from sitting quite comfortably to ‘holy shit…we gotta make payroll.’ This does get better, but in the beginning you are investing everything and you’ll be lucky to see a return in the short term.
  4. Small business owners are your new family. You are not alone, even though it will certainly feel like it. There are others that have done what you are about to do successfully and they have great advice to give you. There is no how-to manual for entrepreneurs, maybe I should write one…oh hell, I don’t have time for that.
  5. Failure is your new norm. It’s ok, because you will learn from it, just don’t be so hard on yourself. How you deal with failure will impact your business’ future. There is such a stigma attached to failure, see it as an opportunity.

My last, perhaps most important piece of advice is to never stop learning. Read everything you can get your hands on and set aside quiet or thinking time for yourself first think in the morning or in the evening. Oh, and always have a bottle of your favorite spirits on hand. You never know when you are going to need it.

What would you add to this list?

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