Although all successful entrepreneurs, these founders admit that there were some less-than-stellar aspects to starting up.
Question: What has been your least favorite part of starting up?
1. Admitting You Can’t Do it All
When starting up, there are a lot of best practices to be mindful of, yet it’s impossible to achieve all of them immediately. It was difficult for me to take a step back and force myself to focus on the most critical priorities — leaving the others to a future phase. However, this approach was imperative to maintain a healthy financial position as well as some semblance of life balance.
2. Watching Friends Whiz By
In the early stages, it was challenging to see my peers seemingly whiz by me in their careers and in some ways, their lives. They were making great salaries, getting promoted and hitting the mile-markers we’re often told to reach. They were also traveling and spending their free time how they pleased. Early on in your company this is rarely the case, but eventually you join or surpass them.
3. Learning Everything the Hard Way
When it’s just you calling all the shots, you learn a whole lot of lessons the hard way. Seemingly common-sense lessons are constantly punching you in the gut at first. You go through a lot of “why didn’t I think of that?!” moments.
4. Spending Time Away From Family and Friends
In a lot of ways, starting a company is like raising an infant. In the beginning, it needs constant attention, supervision and time. When you start a business, it takes months (or sometimes even years) before you can trust it with anyone else outside of your care. There will be missed dinners, birthdays and celebrations. It’s a tough adjustment, but it’s worth the sacrifice in the long run!
5. Working Without Clear Answers
When it’s your business — your life that depends on the success of the company — every decision counts. Not always having someone to bounce ideas off of, or having to make decisions without clear outcomes, can be stressful. Eventually you learn that you don’t always make the right decision, and that’s just part of the process.
6. Tackling Paperwork Roadblocks
Starting and running a business is about much more than having a great idea. Beyond the fun of creating and growing your product or service, there are lots of details that have to be just right to keep your business running smoothly and legally — tracking finances, having proper contracts in place and paying taxes to name just a few. It’s hard not to get bogged down by paperwork when starting up.
7. Dealing With Loneliness and Isolation
I love the people around me, but with my friends and family mainly working corporate jobs it can feel like they just don’t understand my entrepreneurial life. Building a company from scratch is an investment of your time, energy and money, and only other entrepreneurs truly get it. Being around other entrepreneurs is awesome, but I can’t help but feel a little isolated still sometimes.
8. Waiting for Results
I’m a big believer in testing different aspects of new business ideas, but it can also be frustrating — you have to wait to actually get some numbers in that will let you make the right decision, and there may not be too many other steps you can take in the meantime. While entrepreneurship involves a lot of work, there’s a ‘hurry up and wait’ aspect that can drive me crazy.
9. Living With Unconscious Anxiety
Before having a business I used to have vivid, wildly wonderful dreams every few weeks — driving a boat, exotic trips, or hanging out with my “best friend” Jimmy Buffett. Since starting ZinePak those dreams have been replaced with ones about missed deadlines, client woes, or sleeping through my flights. The underlying anxiety of entrepreneurship is something even your unconscious can’t escape!
10. Dealing With Resistance
As a women in her 20s running a business, you do get some resistance from people that have been in the industry for as long as you’ve been alive. You are constantly trying to prove yourself, so confidence and knowledge is key.
11. Learning to Ask for Help
It took me a long time — and some hard lessons — to realize the strength required to ask for help. What I once thought of as a sign of weakness, I now see as the ultimate show of strength and power.
12. Finding a Home for the Business
Finding office space for a startup is an unfortunate distraction. So far we’ve had two ‘homes’ for our company over two years, and we’re going to have to look for another space before this year is out. Between growing in size and bouncing between short-term leases, I’d say finding office space has been my least favorite part.
13. Working Through the Economic Crisis
2008 and 2009 were really rough years for my company because my clients started to go out of business or at least cut their budgets. I’m very grateful that I pivoted and made it through better than ever on the other side. But the economic crisis was a very unpleasant experience.