As much as I love being my own boss, working for oneself can pose a few challenges sometimes. Don’t get me wrong – I know how fortunate I am to be able to do what I want, when I want and without someone telling me how to do it. Yet, the life of an entrepreneur isn’t always rosy. Here are 5 challenges to being an entrepreneur that I’ve faced.
I mainly work from home and while I interact with a range of wonderful individuals including my employees, suppliers and consultants in design, marketing and technology, it can be challenging to rely on your own company day in and day out. Although I’m often on the phone and spend a fair amount of time on email, it’s not quite the same as being able to socialize around the coffee machine and exchange pleasantries about the weekend.
I try to combat this by making a point of leaving the house at least once a day, whether it’s to go to an exercise class, check-in at our shipping/warehouse facility or meet a friend or supplier for coffee or lunch.
2. Sticking to Deadlines
Since I’m the one making the deadlines, there is nobody to answer to if one gets missed. I’ve found that making lists is very helpful and it’s useful to revisit the list daily and weekly as well. Striking out lines on a list feels very pleasurable and so the list making will continue. Despite the fact that I’m generally not a procrastinator, this is a hard one to adhere to at times.
3. Staying Focused
The creative side of me is always coming up with new ideas and because I have sometimes a million ideas a day, it’s hard to continue on with the mundane (month end reports anyone?) when a shiny, sparkly new thing is calling your name. Staying focused is something I battle with all the time so if anyone has tips to share re this, I’m all ears.
4. Cash Flow
Not so much now, but definitely in the early days, when sales were spottier and expenses were a constant, maintaining cash flow is something that I think most entrepreneurs struggle with. Thankfully, as your business grows and you achieve more steady sales, it becomes less of an issue. However, the cash flow beast can raise its ugly head if your business changes or unexpected circumstances land on your doorstep. Becoming friends with your bank manager can be particularly beneficial in this case.
5. Always Being the Decision Maker
While you can ask employees for their input and discuss strategy with consultants, the final decision is always upon your shoulders. Since there will be nobody but yourself to blame should things go wrong, for an entrepreneur, decision making often feels daunting and sometimes leads to inaction, while you weigh the pros and cons of one direction over another. In this case, I’ve learned that if you’re struggling to make a decision, that it’s best to defer it. There’s usually a reason why one direction doesn’t feel quite right and given enough time, you’ll figure out why.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, yet despite all the challenges, I can’t imagine doing anything else.