There’s no substitute for real-world learning. Here are a few lessons to watch for along your path to success.
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Entrepreneurship is a dream for many people. Professionals enjoy the prospect of working for themselves, doing what they love, calling the shots, building a company culture, and leading teams. Most founders are aware of the downsides before they launch their businesses. They understand they’ll need to make tough sacrifices, work on a shoestring budget and face sleepless nights.
But there’s a limit to how much you can prepare — no matter how many seminars you attend or classes you take. Some things simply can’t be absorbed by reading leadership books or speaking with industry veterans. You must experience these lessons firsthand to grasp their importance.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers from my five-plus years in the game. I’ve learned countless hard lessons, and I’m sure there will be much more to learn in my future. Here are five big, ugly truths most entrepreneurs will face at one point or another.
1. It’s easy to start hating your passion.
We’ve all heard the cheeseball quote, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” While it’s definitely true to an extent, if you invest your life savings into turning a side business or passion project into a full-time gig, the negative aspects and stress of running a successful operation can make it easy to fall out of love with it. After all, work is not play.
Chances are, you’ll spend at least the first few years working from the crack of dawn well into the evening — on weekdays and weekends. Burnout can be just around every corner, and your dream career quickly can turn into your worst nightmare.
Make sure you take a sabbatical every once in a while. Even though you’ve invested a great deal in pursuing your passion, you need other pursuits or activities that can take your mind off work. For example, you might set aside an afternoon each week for a round of golf or to meet up with friends for a game of cards — anything that gives you a bit of separation.
While it might not seem feasible in the early stages of running your business, protecting time for yourself is crucial to your long-term success. If you work 24/7 and don’t make room for anything else, you’ll eventually grow to hate your job. Trust me.
2. Working with friends or family is complicated.
When you’re starting a business, working with friends or family may seem like a given. You trust them, they trust you, you know what kind of people they are, and you believe in one another. What could possibly go wrong?
No matter how good your relationship with a loved one, working with him or her in a professional setting will present some challenges. The business world isn’t always a friendly place. You’ll need accountability if anything goes south. And if your company grows and you need to hire more people, bringing friends or family into the mix can wreak havoc on the political scene within the organization. You don’t want to give others the impression that you bestow favoritism or unfair advantages. These are toxic ingredients for any business.
You also should consider that you may have blind spots when it comes to family or friends. Your personal relationship can make it hard to predict or fully understand how…