Entrepreneurship comes with a host of challenges. Rewarding challenges, but harsh challenges nonetheless. Experienced entrepreneurs have to deal with this no matter how long they’ve been in business — trying to establish a brand, adjust to match or exceed the competition and keep your business profitable is a challenge no matter how many years you’ve been in business.
But for new and young entrepreneurs, there are some unique challenges that are especially difficult to overcome. If you’re just getting into the game, or you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, be prepared for these eight significant hurdles.
1. Abandoning another career
If you’re going to dedicate yourself to starting and nurturing a business to success, it’s going to be nearly impossible to simultaneously manage another career. You might be able to manage the infancy of your business on the side, during weeknights and weekends, but if you want a chance of growing significantly, invariably you’ll have to quit your day job.
Walking away from a promising, steady long-term opportunity for something unpredictable is scary — especially if you’ve never run a business before. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to address this. Just think through your decision logically, and don’t ignore your instincts.
Experienced entrepreneurs don’t have it easy when it comes to funding a new business, but they do have a few advantages over newcomers. They might have a pool of capital from a business they previously sold or a steady stream of revenue they can use to fund a new business’s cash flow.
Even if their first business went under, they’ve likely made investment contacts and client connections necessary to give them a leg up in a new enterprise. As a new entrepreneur, you’ll be starting from scratch, which means you’ll need to start networking like crazy and thinking through all your possible funding options before landing on one.
This is especially hard if you’ve never run or managed a team before, but even if you have management experience, picking the right team for a startup is stressful and difficult. It’s not enough to find candidates who fill certain roles — you also need to consider their cost to the business, their culture fit and how they’ll work as part of your overall team. Such considerations are exceptionally hard when you’re under the pressure of filling those positions as soon as possible.
4. Being the visionary
As the founder of your startup, you’ll be expected to come up with the ideas. When a competitor emerges, it will be your responsibility to come up with a response plan. When your team hits an impenetrable obstacle, your job will be to come up with an alternative plan to move forward.
This demands on-the-spot creative thinking — which should be an oxymoron, but entrepreneurs rarely have the luxury of time. The less experience you have, the more pressure you’ll feel from this, and the harder time you’ll have coming up with acceptable plans.
5. Dealing with the unknown
How long will your business exist? How profitable will your business be? Will customers like your product? Will you be able to give yourself a steady paycheck? None of these questions has a solid, reliable answer, even in startups based on great ideas with all the resources they’d theoretically need.
That unknown factor means your job stability is going to plummet, and many of your long-term plans will remain in flux as new developments emerge. Dealing with this volatility is one of the hardest parts of emerging as a new entrepreneur.
It’s a rarely mentioned problem of entrepreneurship, and many new business owners aren’t prepared for it until it happens. Being an entrepreneur is lonely. It’s a singular position, so you won’t have teammates to rely on (completely). You’ll be working lots of hours, so you won’t see your family as often. And your employees will be forced to remain at a bit of a distance.
It’s fun to be the boss until you have to enforce something. Sooner or later, you’ll have to come up with the rules your business follows, from how many vacation days your workers get to what the proper protocol is when filing a complaint about a coworker. These details aren’t fun to create, and they aren’t fun to think about, but they are necessary for every business.
Believe it or not, this is probably the most stressful challenge on this list. New entrepreneurs are forced to make hundreds of decisions a day, from big, company-impacting decisions, to tiny, hour-affecting ones. Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon, and most new entrepreneurs will experience it if they aren’t prepared for the new level of stress.
If you can work your way past these major obstacles, you’ll be well on your way to establishing yourself as an entrepreneur. That isn’t to say they won’t continue to nag at you as the years go on, or that new and varied challenges won’t arise to take their place, but you’ll be prepared to handle yourself in those most volatile and impactful first few months — and that puts you far ahead of the competition.