As an entrepreneur, your curiosity, passion and knack for creative thinking all push you to explore new ideas and break new ground whenever possible. Because you’re always striving for better products and structures, you’re also working toward a better self.
After all, you’re the founder of your company — the idea person, the leader — and it’s your responsibility to lead your company in a successful direction. Your livelihood depends on it, as well, perhaps, as that of your family and possibly your employees and their families, too.
That’s a lot of pressure, and there aren’t many entrepreneurs in the world who’ll say they’re already as good as they could possibly be. Instead, most entrepreneurs are constantly wishing they knew more or were more skilled in certain areas. This is the hallmark of all entrepreneurs, new and experienced.
Almost every entrepreneur wishes he or she were more experienced in the following five areas:
Though entrepreneurship and leadership are two different things, being an entrepreneur almost always entails some degree of leadership. You’ll be responsible for making major decisions for the company, establishing a new direction when necessary and bringing on the right people to carry your vision to fruition.
You’ll have to give instructions, give feedback and motivate people to work for you — and you might even have to serve as the public figurehead for your company. There are some basic skills that go along with being a leader, like remaining calm in tense situations and always being willing to listen to others’ opinions, but there’s no such thing as a perfect leader.
You’ll always make mistakes, and you’ll always have room to learn more about how to serve your people well.
Nothing good happens overnight, and though there are occasional stories of “overnight successes” in the startup world, the reality is that those entrepreneurs have slaved away for years, seeing other businesses collapse, before getting to that point. Still, after you’ve played with your idea for years, spending thousands of dollars of your own money to start things up, and you’ve waited months through the stages of early development, you might find it maddening to wait and wait for that “turning point” when your business becomes successful.
Patience doesn’t come easy, but all of us wish we had more of it.
Decision-making goes along with the territory in entrepreneurship. You’ll make big decisions, such as where to move the company, and small decisions, such as whether to approve an employee’s request for vacation, every single day.
Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon, and facing so many decisions can make you question whether any of them are the “right” ones. Again, there are best practices here that can help. You can reduce stress by eliminating other decisions, and use pro/con-style analyses to find the most effective solutions. But, ultimately, you’ll always find yourself wanting to make decisions just a little bit better.
4. Resource management
You’ll manage a variety of resources as an entrepreneur, from cash flow and employees,to vendors and partners. And you’ll never have a perfectly well-oiled machine to helm, but you can choose the right components and take proactive measure to ensure your employees continue to work well together.
Effective resource management demands time and diligence, both of which you’ll find in short supply, as an entrepreneur with more important priorities. The result: Most entrepreneurs find themselves wishing they could somehow do resource management in an easier way.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way. While, by combining delegation, experience and focus, you can get better at effectively managing your resources, you’ll always have to dedicate time to this task.
5. Achieving a healthy work-life balance
You’re so heavily invested in your startup that chances are, you don’t notice when you’ve been working on it for too long. Either that, or you’re so buried in work and behind on deadlines you can’t stop to think about the last time you took a vacation.
Striking a work-life balance is difficult in any field, but especially for entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, there’s no solution that works for everybody, and there’s no strategy that can give you a perfect balance all at once.
None of these characteristics are simple, and none can be learned through traditional means. Rather, you have to live these topics, experiencing them for yourself and finding your own unique ways of mastering them. You have to experiment, find out what works and what doesn’t and be unintimidated by the fact that you’ll never be perfect at any of them.
Entrepreneurship is nothing if not an ongoing learning process, so keep these five topics in the back of your mind at all times, sharpening your take on them gradually; and never lose focus on improving yourself. For more, see The Modern Entrepreneur: How to Build a Successful Startup, from Beginning to End.