What You Don’t Want To Hear About Becoming A Successful Entrepreneur

So you want to become a successful entrepreneur? One that’s doing something that actually means something to you and to other people, and you want to be making a living doing just that right?

Yet you’re struggling. Really struggling.

Listen I feel you… things are tough for you and your situation isn’t ideal.

You were on a train speeding towards some destination that appeared great at first  (let’s call it “study hard, get a job, get married and live happy ever after”) and everybody else on that train kept reminding you of how awesome the destination was but you caught glimpse of where the train ends up and it’s not awesome at all. It sucks bigtime and it’s not where you want to end up at all.

So you jumped off and boarded another train.

Now you’re freaking out because everything’s crumbling around you, people around you (those still on that other train) are treating you like you’ve lost your mind, and the train you opted for (let’s call this one “the entrepreneur journey”) isn’t ideal either. It’s de-railing and you’re scrambling to find some kind of stability.

Despite this you’re staying on the train.

You value your dignity, your freedom and your life far too much to stop what you’re doing and you have far too much pride to give up the idea of doing things your way and being in full control of your own life. Sound familiar?

Let’s be real here for a moment.

You’re struggling. Really struggling.

You’re not making the income you want, you’re living in an environment that is not conducive to unleashing your creative genius and you’re surrounded by people that seem to hold you back more than anything else. You’ve tried to make it work and followed some of the steps outlined by others and yet you just can’t seem to get a break. Life is treating you like a bitch ain’t it?

Stop. Take a long deep breath and centre yourself.

Some of what I’m going to tell you next will probably rub you the wrong way and it’s not going to be nice and pretty but you need to read it, otherwise you wouldn’t be looking at this right now. If it evokes some kind of negative emotion in you then good. I want you to pay attention to that because it’s what’s getting in your way right now from everything that you want. Read that last sentence again.

I’m sharing this with you because I don’t want you to fall into the same trap that I, and many others that I know of, fell into many years ago. I’ve learnt these lessons the hard and expensive way so if I can somehow save you a whole lot of time, money and disappointment then I’m doing something right.

I do believe that you are capable of creating the life and business that you want… as long as you’re fully clear what you’ve signed up for.

Reality check #1: Being an entrepreneur is friggen’ hard. 

Anybody telling you otherwise is lying.

I’ve yet to meet any successful entrepreneur that hasn’t said the same thing – it’s a tough ride and it’s not for everybody.

For those of us who are crazy enough to go on the journey and stick with it then it’s worth it, but not necessarily in the getting filthy rich kind of way. What you get can be far more rewarding.

You get to make a difference. You get to put yourself through some very challenging times and come out on the other side. You get to find out what you’re really made of.

You also get to ask yourself some very important questions.

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions. So ask great questions.

Badass entrepreneur Tom Morkes blogged about the Entrepreneur’s journey and he shared this enlightening visual (click to enlarge):

Read Tom’s full post and view the full graphic here.

Reality check #2: Turning your passion into a viable business takes time, hustle and in some cases it takes money. 

You’re struggling if you:

  • Are just scraping by wondering where your next pay cheque is coming from;
  • Can barely pay rent or are living at home with family or on a mate’s couch;
  • Are living on instant noodles, fast food, or eating crap food to save money and in turn a feeling the negative effects that’s having on your health and wellbeing;
  • Are avoiding going out with friends and social contacts because you feel guilty or embarrassed every time you’re invited somewhere and have to decline, or you view going out to be a “waste of time and money”;
  • Have very little savings and would be in major strife if you or somebody you loved had a medical emergency and you couldn’t fit the bill;
  • Have been avoiding doing your taxes because you have fear, guilt and shame around money;
  • Are struggling to get clients;
  • Are finding yourself wasting time trying to create the perfect website, logo, flyer, pitch and so on instead of actually going out there and getting customers

If you’re struggling right now then you need to handle that first.

If you’re struggling right now then you need to handle that first. Share on X

Are you really ready and willing to do whatever it takes to create the life that you want?

Many people will answer ‘yes’ to that last question but when it comes down to it they’re bull-crapping themselves. They have bought into a myth that doesn’t serve them, or you. The myth is this – that you can get everything that you want and you can have it in an instant with minimal effort.

“Work smarter, not harder” they shout out from the roof tops.

I don’t disagree that to build a lifestyle of luxury (let’s face it – the majority of the planet are in survival mode, only a very small percentage truly have the freedom of time, money and energy to be doing what they truly want) requires intelligence and systematic design but that’s not what I’m referring to here.

What people seem to conveniently miss is the first word – “WORK”.

Hustle is the secret sauce to success.

This might mean that you go and get a casual or part-time job, sign up for welfare benefits (or similar in your local city or country), or do some pro bono work in exchange for services and/or testimonials.

Hustle also means getting resourceful. If you don’t have the money to buy equipment to do a certain job don’t let that stop you. Ask around. Borrow it. Call in a favour. Barter something for it – offer your valuable skills (and it may not be the skills you’re trying to get paid for but it helps if it is). For example, I get 1-on-1 sessions with my personal trainer in exchange for me helping him with his marketing.

If you never ask you’ll never know what’s possible.

You need to handle your business (rent, food, savings, etc.) before you can handle your business. Does that make sense?

You need to handle your business (rent, food, savings, etc.) before you can handle your business. Share on X

Joe Brachocki, founder of The Opportunity Lens, went from full time corporate IT employee to running a successful dog training business and now he’s starting his own non profit to help women in Kenya. In an interview that I did with Joe during a recent visit to Sydney (I’ll be posting this soon so watch this space!) he shared something profound with me.

Joe explained that the often touted mantra of “Do what you love and the money will come” can cause people to become trapped in a frustrating cycle of passion hunting. Instead, Joe advocates focusing on doing work that pays you (even if it’s minimum wage) as long as you enjoy it and it sets you up for creating more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment. That’s exactly what Joe did when he started out.

“Right now, you just want to find work you enjoy, be happy, and have more free time.” – Joe Brachocki

Once you have stability and your bills are taken care of, then you are in the right emotional, spiritual and energetic space to be building your business. This process may take a while but it works. Contrary to popular belief building a successful business is not a sprint, it’s a bloody marathon.

Think very clearly of where your ideal clients are hanging out and then go and get a low paying job or volunteer there so that you are able to access them frequently.

This serves you three ways:

  1. It allows you to establish relationships with people who could eventually become your clients, build trust with them, and really get clear on what their challenges are.
  2. It allows you to get paid so that will help with your financial responsibilities.
  3. When the time is right you can offer your products or services to solve your potential clients’ problems.
No shame in working a job, helping someone build their dream on your way to building your own dreams. Share on X

Something else that has helped me tremendously is the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS), a program provided by the Australian Government for individuals who are wanting to start their own businesses. Visit the official NEIS website to see if you qualify.

Reality check #3: Stop wasting time and money on distractions and do one thing each day that actually brings you money or is directly related to you producing great work

Listen, even though it may sound like I’m saying that it is… it ain’t all about the money.

It’s about you showing up each day ready and available to serve fully, and you cannot serve another fully if you can’t even take care of yourself.

I am reminded of the safety speech air hostesses give when you’re about to take off on a plane. They always recommend that “if you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person”.

This same mindset applies to business, relationships and all areas of life. Secure your own stuff first, and then assist the other person.

Now let’s talk about distraction. It’s easy to become an information and/or seminar junkie. I was one for many years, and I know many around me who are in that phase.

I’m now really wary of popular “ra-ra” programs that are designed to take advantage of your vulnerable state, leave you walking away at the end of a “transformative” weekend feeling like you’re ready to smash it but a week later you’re feeling depressed, overwhelmed, abused and more confused than before you attended the event.

Anyone telling you that you can create a gazillion dollar income by finding your passion and then applying some kind of system (oh, gee look at that… it happens to be their system) isn’t telling you the entire truth.

Their advice could be downright dangerous and could get you deeper into debt, despair, and even depression. 

So be careful who you listen to and ask yourself “What am I not seeing here? What’s on the other side of what appears too good to be true?”

Question everything and listen to your intuition. If something doesn’t sit right, even if your head can’t explain it, then dig deeper and do your homework. You can definitely talk to people you trust but the main person you need to be trusting is yourself.

Stop thinking, stop consuming, and start executing.

I did a 90-day Disconnect to Reconnect: Info Cleanse Challenge a while back and the whole idea was to remove as much external influence as possible. I unsubscribed from the majority of the email lists I was on, stopped attending all but a handful of seminars and webinars, and stopped consuming other peoples’ content. I focused solely on uncovering what I could offer and serving people using my unique talents, experience and gifts.

Ignore fads and quick gains, because they’ll surely kill the enjoyment and appreciation for your journey to awesomeness. We leave a legacy by living a journey, not by collecting the trophies. Patience. Persistance. Progress. – Jon Low

There’s a whole lot more that I can say about this topic but I’ll save it for another time. This rant has gone on long enough. I hope it’s been valuable to you in some way.

So what’s been your experience? Post your comments below to continue the conversation.