Entrepreneur Daniel Priestley in his great book, “Entrepreneur Revolution: How to Develop Your Entrepreneurial Mindset and Start a Business that Works” shared seven hard truths of entrepreneurship and I found them to be very true and helpful. He writes:
Seven hard truths of Entrepreneurship
TRUTH 1: IT’S HARD AND IT GETS HARDER
Entrepreneurship isn’t easy: you’re taking on people’s problems. You are taking on problems for your customers, for your staff, for your family and ultimately yourself. This responsibility is something that your family and your staff won’t or can’t grasp (and nor should you try to make them – it’s your journey not theirs). Entrepreneurship is so hard at times, it’s not even worth mentioning how hard it is. Rather than hoping for the day it’s effortless, you need to embrace the challenge. Realise that you aren’t digging ditches or scavenging for food and water.
Entrepreneurship is so hard at times, it’s not even worth mentioning how hard it is.
Your problems are entirely of your own making and you are engaged in a meaningful struggle to bring your vision out into the world. Stop looking for reprieve and start making things happen – accept that it’s hard, but you’re living in the most exciting time in history and it’s hard because you’ve chosen a new path.”
TRUTH 2: NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE YOU
There’s no entrepreneur coming to ‘take you to the next level’ – they are already building their own businesses. There’s no world-class manager who’s coming to join your team and fix every issue – they already work for Google and they would want crazy money to leave. They certainly wouldn’t want to work for someone who needs saving.
In every way, you are in the driver’s seat and everyone is looking to you for leadership. Great people on your team will be great because you made them great – you trained them, developed them and believed in their potential, even while they made mistake after mistake.
Removing the hope that someone is coming to save you leaves you with the realisation that this business is in your hands, and your hands only. Stop searching for the White Knight and start showing up with bravery and leaning in to your challenges.
TRUTH 3: IN ORDER TO DO THE WORK YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO WIN THE WORK
Here’s the problem, in order to do the work, you need to win the work. You have to get a client to transfer the money, sign the cheque or enter their PIN. Until that happens, it doesn’t matter how cool your ideas are or how good you are at delivering value to a client.
There’s no easy sales system that generates clients passively. Great companies with billion-dollar brands still need excellent sales professionals to secure new business. No amount of content generates automatic sales, beautiful branding won’t do it either, and great sales people will only perform on your team if they can see how you sell first.”
“Sales skills can be learned. You can craft brilliant presentations, get better at listening and work on your communication skills.
Eventually, you can inspire a team of people who help win business – but only if you can find your groove when selling first. Lean in to the sales process and never take your foot off the accelerator.
TRUTH 4: THINGS DON’T WORK FOR LONG
There’s no foolproof system, there’s no magic bullet and there are no people who just work hard without leadership. Every system will need to be refined, every cutting-edge strategy will become commonplace, every hot product will cool off, every ace team member will need training and every asset will need developing.
Business requires you to juggle and there’s no such thing as a ball that just stays in the air, there are only people who get good at juggling. As soon as you give up on the expectation that things will just work, you suddenly embrace the challenge of dealing with more and more complexity. You discover a rhythm of pre-empting what needs your attention, and you begin to fix things just as they begin to break rather than waiting for them to get completely destroyed. Expect people and things to break down over time and lean in to the process of reinvention.
TRUTH 5: YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL
Despite your best thinking and most diligent planning, most of what you do won’t work. Your best advertising will be ignored by most people. Your best sales presentation will be rejected by a huge portion of people you present to. Your foolproof solution will fall apart at a crucial time. You’re going to lose a battle you should have won. You’re going to be at a low point and then another thing is going to come along and crush you. You’ll have days that you just can’t get yourself fired up no matter how hard you try.
Some of the best entrepreneurs have had complete business failures and gone bankrupt. Even when the worst things happen, the sun comes up the next day and you have another opportunity to try something else.
Let yourself off the hook for being perfect – it’s not even a possibility. Get on with doing the best you can and expect delays. Lean in to failure because it’s a great teacher and it’s part of the process.”
TRUTH 6: IT’S UNFAIR
Sometimes people don’t keep their word, some deals go badly and situations unfold that everyone agrees is wrong. Even when this happens, don’t become jaded or bitter. Don’t complain how unfair things are – accept it and move forward.
Keep the perspective that life in general isn’t fair and there’s a good chance you’ve been on the right side of the unfairness before. You were probably born in a country that gave you an unfair advantage, you probably had lucky breaks, you probably had an education millions of people dream of. You probably have an unfair amount of health and good looks. If you have running water and healthy food available, many people would consider those basics of life aren’t fairly distributed. As an entrepreneur, you must never complain about how unfair things are for you, instead champion the causes of others less fortunate than yourself and solve problems others won’t solve for themselves. Then you will be fine. Lean in to the unfairness and be grateful that you have the opportunity to overcome your unique set of challenges.
TRUTH 7: YOU’RE NOT ENTITLED TO REWARDS
You’re not on this planet to be the recipient of riches and great rewards. You’re not entitled to travel, to have a big house or to enjoy endless holidays.”
“You’re here to solve problems for others. Your most rewarding work will be in the service of others, doing meaningful but challenging work. You might not get recognised for this work, the credit might go to someone else, or the people you help might not be grateful at times.”
“It just so happens you’ve already won the human lottery. By virtue of the fact you’re alive at this moment, you’re educated, have access to technology, medicine and information, you’ve already got the rewards. You’re luckier than 99.9% of every human being that has walked the earth. Now it’s time to bring your A-game for helping others.
As soon as you give up on the idea that you’re doing this business for a payoff, and you just serve others as best you can and as sustainably as you can, you’ll start to gain huge satisfaction from the work itself. Everything on top of the opportunity to serve will be a bonus. Additionally, without any sense of entitlement to rewards, you will be the one who chooses to reward yourself as and when you want to rather than expecting the rewards to magically arrive. Lean in to serving others and accept the rewards you choose.”
Business is tough, but it’s great. It’s a challenge that forces you to perform at your best and it won’t tolerate anything less. The main thing that makes business miserable is juvenile expectations that it should always be fun, fair, easy and rewarding by default. If you want it to be easy, it gets damn hard. Paradoxically, if you embrace the struggle, it’s a lot more fun and you start to realise just how lucky you are.
All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.
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