When you decide to become an entrepreneur, there are certain obstacles you know you’ll have to face: getting financing, promoting your business, or making that first sale. However, there are often many more obstacles that you are not prepared for or did not even know would happen.
Nevertheless, each of these hurdles can be overcome with the right strategies and plans. For more information on how to prepare for these hardships, check out the following advice from the members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs. Here, they each discuss an obstacle they’ve faced in their careers that they never prepared for when they started their businesses, and how they recommend other leaders prepare.
1. Feeling isolated
I didn’t expect to feel so alone, even surrounded by friends, colleagues, teammates, mentors and paid coaches. At the end of the day, it’s you against you, and if you’re struggling to be alone with your thoughts and fears, this will be a challenging road for you. If you are a new leader, feel comfortable if you feel uncomfortable and find a network to support you now. Find the person you can break up with, a rational mind to talk you off the ledge, and most importantly, someone you can safely celebrate your victories with. I come from a lower-middle-class upbringing, and when we hit our first seven grades, I had no one around me to say who wouldn’t be offended by my success. Find the people who will be there no matter the season and keep them close. You need them. – Trivinia Barber, PriorityVA
2. Leaving to start a family
One obstacle I didn’t foresee when starting my business was what would happen if I started my family and had to take time off after the birth of my children. I knew I’d be gone and focused on taking care of my baby, but I assumed I’d still have brain space to control the business. As it turns out, I really needed to be disconnected from work for at least three months, and while I had a team to keep things running, I would have liked to have done more training with them, so I wasn’t obligated at all. In the end, I was much better prepared for my second parental leave, but I wish I had spoken to more moms beforehand to hear their experiences. I believe it is possible to keep a business going, but you just need the right expectations and plans while on maternity leave. – Natalie Lussier, AccessAlly
3. Sell my business
When I think of unexpected obstacles I’ve encountered in my career, selling my business comes to mind. I never thought my company would be big enough to sell. Once I realized this was a possibility, I learned there was more to it than simply handing my company over to someone else for a big paycheck. There’s a lot of legal paperwork and technical details to take care of before you sell your company or merge with a bigger brand. You also need to train the incoming team so they know how to keep things running smoothly. And if you’re like me, you want to find a partner or seller with similar values and passion for the industry. I suggest preparing for this obstacle by researching potential buyers and sales processes as soon as you think you might want to sell your business. – Jan Bracket, Smash Balloon LLC
4. Need to find a business partner
An unexpected obstacle I faced early in my career as an entrepreneur was finding a business partner. What I’ve learned over time is that enthusiasm for entrepreneurship can easily blind us to our weaknesses. Engaging a business partner to balance one’s strengths and weaknesses can make a huge difference in what’s possible. Being able to identify the right type of partner is therefore a core skill that every entrepreneur with big ambitions should learn as early as possible. To discern the best business partner, it is essential to interview many candidates rather than choosing a friend. Learning the goals and struggles of the partner you’re considering is crucial to developing an effective business alliance. Taking these steps will also promote communication that is essential for success. – Richard Fung, Assistance with a disability
5. Dealing with Copycat Companies
When I started my business, there was no one else offering the niche services we had. I expected to be told ‘no’ and to close the doors – which happened several times in the beginning. What I didn’t expect, however, was that dozens of copycat companies would pop up and model their business after mine. Many of them chose to offer exactly the same services and packages as we do, and a handful even took the words from our website and incorporated them verbatim into theirs. This helped me learn one of the most important skills of a successful entrepreneur: innovation. We are not afraid of change and growth, which has made us pioneers in our field. – Leila Lewis, Get inspired PR
6. Facing endless rejection
When I started, I never thought I’d be prepared for endless investor rejections. Attracting investment is a dream come true for most entrepreneurs, but finding the right investors can be a challenge. Even when you eventually find them, they are often unwilling to invest because you are new to the industry. I faced countless rejections, which really shook me up. Although I didn’t give up and eventually found the best people to invest in my venture, it was very difficult to receive so many rejections and keep going. To prepare for this, I advise entrepreneurs to focus on PR and making contacts. The more you are connected to the right people, the more likely you are to attract investment. Also, be prepared for rejection, but never give up. – Jared Achison, WPForms
7. Dealing with the evolution of e-commerce
I own an ecommerce business and the changes that have had to be made to our systems, software, processes and more since day one are more than I can count. Just when things are working seamlessly, something changes beyond our control and we need to react and adapt. The best way to prepare for this is to build an agile company, website and processes. Keep up with trends in your industry and try to stay ahead of the competition when you can. Make sure you have the right talent on your team (or are accessible as contractors) to help you make changes as they happen. In e-commerce, change is the one thing you can always count on. – Jonathan Prichard, MattressInsider. com
8. Accept a lack of control
The hardest thing for me in my career as a leader has been accepting that I am not in control of everything and never will be. However, if something goes off the rails, the person responsible for it is me and I must own it. If you’re young and unprepared, getting a customer complaint about something you thought was taken care of, or getting a negative review from a former employee when you didn’t see it coming, can really hurt and discourage you to proceed to. To overcome it, I had to change my mindset: all successes belong to the team, but all failures belong to me. – Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.