The job market is currently more competitive than ever. With college tuition debt increasing and job prospects low, college graduates are looking for options their forebears never considered—including being an entrepreneur.
But while droves of college graduates are becoming entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship isn’t all sunshine and roses. Here are three key things you need to know before you take the plunge and become an entrepreneur.
1. It’s not just one job.
“Entrepreneur” may sound like a single job, but it encompasses many duties. Your business idea may center on your favorite hobby, but that won’t be your only task. Instead, you will have a variety of tasks that you may not even enjoy.
You will have to a number of hats in the beginning:leader, follower, and worker. Before your startup can even get off the ground, you will have to create a business plan or make a proposal on your own, unless you have partners or investors. If your business involves sales, you will need to learn how to build a sales funnel and work on promotions. And as an entrepreneur, it will be up to you to speak to investors, potential stakeholders, clients, and customers. In other words, you will need to handle finances, planning, operations, and marketing, all while being easy-going, communicative, and persuasive.
Clearly, you’ll have a lot to do, but there are only 24 hours in a day. Your organization skills and time management skills will have to be top-notch, especially in the early stages of running your business. Once your business is up and running, you can start hiring people to take over some of the less pleasant tasks. Until then, though, it’s all you.
2. Remember, you run the show.
In the first year or so of your entrepreneurship journey, you will be solely responsible for everything that happens in your company. You’ll need to brainstorm small business marketing ideas and plan out your key performance indicators. You will also need to work on your brand identity and your logo design in order to set yourself apart from competitors. (Take a look at this brand building guide for more advice on branding.) You’ll need to know your market and promote your product in a way that reaches your target audience and compels them to buy your product or service.
Once the profits start to roll in, you can build a marketing team that will help you grow. (You can read more about marketing team structure here). But until you earn enough to hire employees, your business is all you.
3. You might encounter problems along the way.
When you look at some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, you may think that they’ve sailed through the business world without any problems. But it’s important to remember that every startup has its roadblocks, especially at first.
Many new businesses experience financial issues in the first couple of years.You will very likely need to take out a loan, so you will be starting off your business in debt. You must keep your accounts updated and stick to a bookkeeping schedule so that you can always keep tabs on your finances.
If you have investors, you will need to continually prove that your business is profitable so that they will continue to sponsor you. If you can’t show that your business is thriving, you could lose your investors.
You also want to avoid legal trouble. Be honest and transparent in your business dealings, and stick to the rule book to the best of your abilities. To prevent legal hassles, hire a lawyer early on Risk prevention isn’t too exciting, but it will ensure that you don’t run into problems that could scuttle your startup before it’s even begun.
The early days of entrepreneurship are not as glamorous as you might think, but they’re important to the future of your business. By putting in the hard yards, you will eventually be able to create a life that is fulfilling in every way.