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HOT TOPIC What Is So Hard About Entrepreneurship?

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Andy Black

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I suppose a (the?) hard part is you don’t report to anyone else. It’s all on you and whatever your limiting beliefs are. For some that’s liberating. For others it’s terrifying.
 

Bekit

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Hey,

I am really wondering, what is so hard about entrepreneurship?

What did you really struggle with?

Was it getting started? Getting financed? Making the product? Selling it? Administrative tasks? Finding people to hire? Marketing? Was it figuring it out?

Was it the whole process? Was it finding an idea? Was it the volume of work? Or its actual complexity? Was it believing you would make it? Was it not giving up?

Please don't say it was everything. There must have been tasks that were harder than others.

I read Bezos and Branson biographies and these guys were working a lot, sure, but it's not like they were crying everyday on their way to the office, which is the feeling I get when people like Peter Thiel say "building a company is like eating broken glass while staring into the abyss".

Is it really everyone's experience?

PS: please don't try to discourage me, call me ignorant, gullible or anything else, or tell me "you'll see" in a condescending manner. I am asking a genuine question. I obviously don't know much, and so it would be great to hear from others that did this before me. Thank you : )
I think the answer can be summed up as "whatever obstacle you're currently facing."

Entrepreneurship is a series of challenges. A series of problems to solve.

It's like when you're in school. When you're learning how to read, that's the hard thing for you at that moment.

Later on, reading is easy! But now you're struggling with long division.

And when you're learning long division, you haven't yet run into algebra.

It keeps going. Later there's trigonometry. After that, there's calculus. Etc.

I also think there's only limited value in finding out "what's the hardest part about entrepreneurship?"

If a second-grader asks a high-school graduate, "What's the hardest part about school," the answers could be all over the map. The high schooler could easily terrify the second grader's mind with all sorts of stories about "how hard it gets," from chemistry to foreign language grammar to relationships. And the second-grader could easily conclude, "Oh brother. I'd better quit school now. I know I'm not cut out for all that." So when Peter Thiel says, "building a company is like eating broken glass while staring into the abyss," it's kind of like he's the high-schooler enjoying the process of explaining biology dissection class and watching the little kids faint.

But this ignores an important fact.

In entrepreneurship, it's not really worth comparing the difficulty level of someone else's year 10 (or year 30!) challenges with the difficulty level of your year 1 challenges.

The only thing that matters is, how hard is it for YOU right then?

That little first-grade kid learning to read? It's really hard for him.
When that kid reaches third grade and is trying to learn long division, is it really any harder for him to learn long division than it was for him to learn to read?

Both things require growth. But both times, it's a reachable level of growth.

When that kid starts learning algebra, sure, algebra is objectively harder. He can probably do long division on autopilot now. And of course he can probably read without even trying. But still, the amount of NEW effort and growth that it requires is reachable. It's still hard to learn algebra. But it was hard to learn to read back when you were 5 or 6. Who can tell if this is any harder for you now than that was for you then?

My point is, there are challenges at every level. By the time you reach your year 10 challenges, you'll be doing your year 1 challenges on autopilot. Your year 10 challenges will be hard. Probably harder than you expect. But your year 1-9 challenges will have prepared you to tackle your year 10 challenges, thanks to the maturity and experience you will have built up.

In my opinion, it's not really worth your time to rank entrepreneurial challenges by difficulty or gawk at the hard stuff that's way down the road. Just be faithful in the stuff you're doing now. Face those challenges. Solve today's problems to the best of your ability. Keep learning. The nature of growth is that it's hard. Face it, own it, and make progress as fast as you can.

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much."
 

Kung Fu Steve

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Entrepreneurship is easy.

What's hard is working for someone in a job you hate for 40, 50, 60 years all the while hoping that someone will take care of you when you retire only to find out no one will.

Business is simple.

As the late and great Jim Rohn would say "have two bicycles, one to ride, and one to rent!"

Could you buy soap for $1 and sell it for $3? You're in business.

And sure, challenges are going to pop up but you just solve them.

The difficult part is overthinking.

Your question confirms that you're overthinking it.

You've got this.
 

OverByte

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Hardest part for me was knowing when to stick with an idea and when to drop it. You don't want to have shiny object syndrome and you may just be just a few steps from gold, at the same time, you may not be. It's hard working on something through the desert of desertion and you need to be able to believe in yourself to make it through. At the same time, you have to question am I a few feet away from gold or am I on the wrong path, that's the nagging question you'll have in the desert. I've had many failures, I am starting to see some success now, one of the big differences in my approach was the way I went about evaluating ideas for potential and stopped focusing so much on the idea and more on the need it served, could I reach the market and explain it, could I test something at a small scale, what would my CAC be, my ACV, can I support paid acquisition, is someone else doing something similar so I have some validation before I get started, etc. When I first started I thought if I build this they will come, that was naive. Each "failure" is a lesson. I would say the hardest part about entrepreneurship is persisting through the lessons without losing site of your end goal. If you can learn from books, that's great save some time, but some of the best advice is to just do it, figure it out along the way and when you're knocked down, get back up again.

Now that I have a business with sales, my problems are more technical in nature, related to scaling and evaluating new opportunities, but these are funner "problems" to have and the sales keep the motivations in check and reinforce I'm heading in the right direction. When you're starting out you have no sales, just an idea (maybe several) and a belief in yourself. Don't let the belief die.
 

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What is hard about entrepreneurship is the risk.

Most people just can't live with the uncertainty.

The actual stuff you do is not hard. What's hard is that it's a wager.

People who think that stuff like hiring and managing is hard... have never done anything that is actually "hard" physically or intellectually.

The hard part is that you bear all the risks of the consequences, nothing else.

And that's the source of all fears, mental blocks, and lies we tell ourselves.

Entrepreneurship would be easy if you were fearless.
 

MJ DeMarco

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What Is So Hard About Entrepreneurship?​


Because it requires you to put other people's selfishness ahead of your own.

99% of the world is self-centered and focused on what they want -- it makes them blind to what other people want.

It is this reason, and this reason alone why "do what you love!" and "follow your passion" is so popular -- it allows you to backpack your selfish, hard-headed self-centeredness into the marketplace ... as if you could bend the universe and the marketplace to your will.

It also is probably the worst business advice anyone could follow simply because it is idealistic and introspective VS realistic and extrospective.
 

biophase

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I read Bezos and Branson biographies and these guys were working a lot, sure, but it's not like they were crying everyday on their way to the office, which is the feeling I get when people like Peter Thiel say "building a company is like eating broken glass while staring into the abyss".

Is it really everyone's experience?
Just because it wasn’t in the book didn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Do you actually think Bezos and Branson and Musk are doing any physical work when they work long hours each day?

No, they are using their brains and thinking. They are solving problems and doing strategic work.

The work you think is easy is easy. But how do you know it’s the right work to be doing? That’s the hard work.
 

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Over the long term, you learn that business is the extension of you (even if you're building a business brand and not a personal brand). Consequently, all your inner struggles and shortcomings will affect your business.

The hard part is thus not necessarily taking care of your business but taking care of yourself: your stress levels, energy, and mental health in general.

That's particularly hard in a world where you're expected to move and act all the time, even though you're most creative and most efficient when you're calm, relaxed, and lazy in a smart way.
 

spElle

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Interesting question. I've heard that what you're meant to do, your special skills and talents, are connected to what you loved to do from age 7-14. This could suggest how we're brought up has something to do with becoming an entrepreneur. I think there's more to it though.

I started making money through entrepreneurship age 12, loved every moment of it, and decided it'd be what I do forever. I made money every single month from 2010-2019 (when I sold my business), people called me lucky but I knew my skills were strong and my ideas were good. Creativity is definitely part of it.

When I went through two traumatic events (one was long-term exposure lasting over a year and a half) within the space of a couple of weeks, right after selling my business, my brain changed. It's given me a different perspective on entrepreneurship. I think belief is majorly important.

We have seen the things Kanye West comes up with and makes a success of even when there are millions of critics. He's stayed true to the beliefs he was raised with: that he can do anything. I always had a strong sense of self and confidence that I can achieve. I only experienced failure in a negative way when this changed.

It's essential you nurture the ability to bounce back from failure with self-belief. I had belief that I would be successful, so even though I only experienced success 70-80% of the time, I didn't let it affect me and was quick to move onto the next thing that was always a success.

The final thing as some other people have mentioned is risk-taking. However you become an entrepreneur, at some point you have to risk something, your time, your reputation, your money. I don't think you need to be as much of a risk-taker as you have to believe in yourself though.

I tried to avoid taking risk whilst experiencing trauma but it's counterintuitive (especially with low self-esteem) and ironically I lost more than if I'd just focused on what I wanted to do. If you're creative and smart about it, risk is naturally part of business and pays off more than if you worry.

The good news is the brain is malleable and you can work on changing your thoughts. I have a lot of money and time so I've been taking risk more, such as betting and doing other tasks I'd have normally avoided due to the risk involved. Hopefully I can start to approach business in the same way again.

You can work on self-belief with self-love, critical thinking, finding and interrupting repetitive thought patterns, telling yourself good things, surrounding yourself with people who believe in you. If you're friends/in a relationship with someone who makes you feel less valuable, especially repeatedly, leave ASAP! I've been working hard for the best part of a year on increasing my self-belief and it's still a struggle. I really think self-belief is the most important factor, so even though I feel really good about myself now, I think you need to be where you feel excellent about yourself.

Entrepreneurship is so hard because so many of us let in opinions of the people who don't believe in us. Our mind takes in that negativity and adapts using the harmful information as a reference. Hearing things like you're stupid, you can't do anything right, what's wrong with you, etc. daily for over a year completely changed the makeup of my brain in a hugely detrimental way so I encourage anyone with unsupportive friends, parents, partners, to get away from those people and start loving yourself and recovering.
 

BizyDad

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Hey,

I am really wondering, what is so hard about entrepreneurship?

What did you really struggle with?

Was it getting started? Getting financed? Making the product? Selling it? Administrative tasks? Finding people to hire? Marketing? Was it figuring it out?

Was it the whole process? Was it finding an idea? Was it the volume of work? Or its actual complexity? Was it believing you would make it? Was it not giving up?

Please don't say it was everything. There must have been tasks that were harder than others.

I read Bezos and Branson biographies and these guys were working a lot, sure, but it's not like they were crying everyday on their way to the office, which is the feeling I get when people like Peter Thiel say "building a company is like eating broken glass while staring into the abyss".

Is it really everyone's experience?

PS: please don't try to discourage me, call me ignorant, gullible or anything else, or tell me "you'll see" in a condescending manner. I am asking a genuine question. I obviously don't know much, and so it would be great to hear from others that did this before me. Thank you : )
Fear of never making it. Its that nagging self doubt that constantly asks if all this hard work is ever going to be worth it? It reared it's ugly head in the beginning when I didn't have any idea what kind of business I'd be in. Then once I had businesses, it reared its ugly head until I felt like I had made it.
 

Andy Black

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The difficult part is overthinking.
Which reminds me of one of my favourite lines:

“Overthinking is the art of solving problems you don’t have.”

... which seems somewhat appropriate for this thread I feel. (As in ... why go looking for problems you don’t have?)
 

djcoax

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School prepares us for factories or cubicles. It’s there to ensure most people can keep a roof over their head. Even those who take advanced study are just studying technical knowledge to a higher level, they’re not learning how to get ahead in life unless it’s to get a higher paying job.

A niece is straight out of college and thinking of doing digital marketing. It saddens me that she’s so conditioned by the script that she’ll likely spend €1,300 on a course in Dublin rather than get a client and learn what she needs when it’s needed. I’ve had a wee chat but I may as well be from another planet.

I'm starting to think it is possible to plot down a formula for guaranteed success in business.
But even with the formula in hand - you have to see the light first. The rock-bottom FU point MJ describes in his books. It's about having the correct mindset and focus.

1. Focus on creating value/helping others

Think about all the successful people in this world. They have one thing in common and that is that they all create some kind of value for the world.

2. Focus on the process- not the endpoint

Habits > Goals. Goals are moving targets - habits are in the now.

3. Do. Act. Deliberately step out of your comfort zone every single day

Do something scary that propels your business forward every day. So many people are action faking.
Deliberately plan to do something scary first thing in the morning.

4. Exercise and Meditate Daily. Eat Healthy. Sleep 8hrs.

This is the foundation of everything. Without a healthy mind and body, there is nothing.

5. Be Grateful

Be thankful you are here. You are alive. Enjoy !

I honestly think adhering to these five principles will get you quite far.
 

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mon_fi

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Hey,

I am really wondering, what is so hard about entrepreneurship?

What did you really struggle with?

Was it getting started? Getting financed? Making the product? Selling it? Administrative tasks? Finding people to hire? Marketing? Was it figuring it out?

Was it the whole process? Was it finding an idea? Was it the volume of work? Or its actual complexity? Was it believing you would make it? Was it not giving up?

Please don't say it was everything. There must have been tasks that were harder than others.

I read Bezos and Branson biographies and these guys were working a lot, sure, but it's not like they were crying everyday on their way to the office, which is the feeling I get when people like Peter Thiel say "building a company is like eating broken glass while staring into the abyss".

Is it really everyone's experience?

PS: please don't try to discourage me, call me ignorant, gullible or anything else, or tell me "you'll see" in a condescending manner. I am asking a genuine question. I obviously don't know much, and so it would be great to hear from others that did this before me. Thank you : )
 

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JAJT

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Holy sh*t man! How did you get out of that one, if at all?

Re-designed the product with the manufacturer, excluding the aspects that the competitor made proprietary.

I spun it as an upgrade to customers.

Cost me maybe 2 months of downtime though during the process and I had to run my existing stock dry on Amazon before I could send in the new version because I had to edit the listing with the new information and I didn't want two different types of stock under one listing because that's a fast track to 1-star city if customers don't get what your listing shows/promises, obviously.

Had to also get new photos done, of course. And test the new product myself to see if it would work.

The competitor ultimately won though - because even after all that they reported all my listings as a HAZMAT violation due to a firestarter (magnesium rod) that was part of the product. I fought with amazon for months over the issue because this competitor (and Amazon themselves!!!) had hundreds of listings using the SAME firestarter but Amazon didn't care.

Had to "fire sale" the entire product line, which was my most successful at the time.

I got really jaded about Amazon after that.
 

socaldude

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What did you really struggle with?

Probably the reasoning and perceptual skills that are needed to spot opportunities. Because once you have that sorted out it becomes pretty obvious what you need to do. If you are really good, you can compete with almost anybody.

You see RISK is mostly dependent on YOU. And how good you are at executing. If you don’t use your head then of course it’s gonna be super risky. This is what makes this so much fun. Once you know how to think you can outplay the competition and execute projects almost with perfect predictions. Like when you play poker, the risk is mostly your responsibility.
 

SteveO

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What is hard about entrepreneurship is the risk.

Most people just can't live with the uncertainty.

The actual stuff you do is not hard. What's hard is that it's a wager.

People who think that stuff like hiring and managing is hard... have never done anything that is actually "hard" physically or intellectually.

The hard part is that you bear all the risks of the consequences, nothing else.

And that's the source of all fears, mental blocks, and lies we tell ourselves.

Entrepreneurship would be easy if you were fearless.
Yes!

Once you have an established business or backup money, everything is much easier. The risk does not feel so great.

The risk helps work motivation though. It can be harder to start if your feet are not held to the fire.
 

Think Expand

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In own opinion, the hardest part of entrepreneurship is driving more sales and revenue. If you can sell more, you will make more money and your business will cash flow... and you can buy as many Lambourgini you want.

But when getting sales is hard... the business struggles to survive. Even big companies go bankrupt when they fail or struggle to sell.

The second biggest thing is collecting account receivables from customers after the sale is closed. If you run a business where you offer 70/30 or 50/50 or offer credit to customers.,... then it might be tough collecting payments from some customers. Some customers are just stubborn and lack ethics.

I run a business consulting firm in 2015 which collapsed purely because we had lots of account receivables in our books, but not enough cash to run operations. We were profitable in the books, but cash poor in the bank. That's very hard and painful if you have been there and know what I am saying!

So the business collapsed. That I will say is tough! It's not easy chasing customers for your money... they start to think you're the bad and evil guy... when it is okay for you go and chase them for your money.

The last thing I will say is the hard part of entrepreneurship is dealing with employees, suppliers, bankers and all the people you work with. Business in itself is EASY, but working with people is the HARDEST part. Therefore, having patience, people skills and courage is crucial in dealing with different kinds of people you will meet in business.
 

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I think the most difficult thing is sales, in theory having a business is easy, you have a website or physical store.. technically anyone can own a business, but having a successful and profitable business is the hard part.

Like Mark Cuban says, nothing else really matters, sales cures all.
 

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Fear of never making it.

I had that before, but then I realized that whatever I started eventually taught me something, so even it it didn't work, it wasn't for nothing.

I also thought that if I do something and it works, great. If I do it and it fails, then I'll write a book about my failure and its lessons, and it will also be great. In a way, I am a winner whatever happens.
 

Diogo Santos

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Yes. That is the most difficult thing for me. :D I've struggled with anxiety most of my life thanks to two major traumas in childhood, so thinking too much and overthinking things are the main problems in business for me. But normal business stuff and getting the right things done is not so hard. It's just, I can't stop thinking about it :D

I'm with you on this one, overthinking it's definitely my biggest issue as well.

I also end up not enjoying my days because I know I'm supposed to, let's say, search for a potential product or market but for some reason, I always end up procrastinating and not doing the tasks I need to. But I don't use my time to go out or to play video games or whatever I just action fake and never get out of this loop, so I don't enjoy my days and get frustrated because I have done nothing productive all day.

"Just start" I've seen this over and over on this forum. I actually saw a video a few days ago about fitness in general where the person said something like this: "When you go to the gym you don't learn all the perfect positions and perfect forms, you go and you adapt along the way, you don't wait until you know every exercise and every form, to start going to the gym" this is the equivalent of "don't waste time on your logo and on the perfect website etc.. just start selling and adapt along the way, but for some reason the gym one really hit me because I can relate to it better. I wanted to improve my body, so I just started going to the gym. But with creating a business I'm wasting time on "know everything, before starting". I guess this is fear of failure as well.
 

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I was just browsing job listings in my area and came across one that I clicked on. It turns out to be a small company that bought the same piece of land I was considering buying for a business idea I had a year ago. They have been executing and I've been procrastinating. They are hiring and I am looking for employment. So it goes.
 

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Which reminds me of one of my favourite lines:

“Overthinking is the art of solving problems you don’t have.”

... which seems somewhat appropriate for this thread I feel.

So good!
 

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JAJT

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- Mental health
- Loneliness
- Lack of stability
- Financial troubles before success (if success ever comes)
- Choosing from an unlimited number of options while feeling like only a few of them will result for success (but not knowing which)
- Learning advertising and marketing, then getting it right, if you can get it right (before you run out of funds)
- Customer service, the entirety of it
- Minimizing expenses (death by a thousand cuts applies here - everyone in your entire business chain is going to take a small cut)
- Trying to decide when to keep pushing and when to call it quits
- How much to re-invest and how much to draw for yourself
- Handling those days where everything goes wrong, you waste or lose a ton of money, and feel like the house is going to collapse on top of you and you can't breathe
- Deciding how to allocate a limited amount of funds across an unlimited amount of services, all promising to help you achieve success and all offering alluring benefits
- When a competitor wipes out your most successful product line with an exclusivity agreement with your supplier and you wonder how the hell you'll problem solve this one (ask me how I know this one...)
- When your essential partners (like amazon) f*ck you over or cut you off when you did nothing wrong
- When you forget to collect taxes all year because of a checkbox you forgot to tick on amazon and your accountant is all "sooo... yeah.... you owe...."

I mean... it goes on. I could go on. And this is just in my very limited experience and off the top of my head.

Nothing about it is easy. It's worth it. But it's not easy.
 

Andy Black

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I personally don’t think execution (or anything) has to be exceptional.
 

YanC

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Over the long term, you learn that business is the extension of you (even if you're building a business brand and not a personal brand). Consequently, all your inner struggles and shortcomings will affect your business.

The hard part is thus not necessarily taking care of your business but taking care of yourself: your stress levels, energy, and mental health in general.

That's particularly hard in a world where you're expected to move and act all the time, even though you're most creative and most efficient when you're calm, relaxed, and lazy in a smart way.
This resonated VERY MUCH with me.

I'm finding that what lurks behind most of my business related difficulties are almost always my own shortcomings. I usually solve them once I have done the work to get better and grow into the person that is able to tackle them.

Financial success is yet to come, but I realize that being in business made me a better human being and incredibly improved all aspects of my life.
 

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SamHalen

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Constantly leaving your comfort zone.

First it was marketing even though it felt unatural as an introvert.
Then it was customer service and learning when to ignore flame/criticism online.
Then it was hiring contractors after being scammed on Upwork.
Then it was recording youtube videos of myself.
Now it's learning about taxes.

As soon as I become comfortable doing something it's time to move on.
 

mon_fi

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I think I know what is so hard about entrepreneurship.

You have to figure out everything by yourself.

At school, your teachers tell you what to do, and how to do it. You don't have to be smart to succeed at school. You just need to obey and understand what your teacher expects from you.

No one tells you what to do in entrepreneurship. No one tells you what the result is supposed to be. And no one gives you a list of instructions, tightly arranged in ordered bullet points.

You're on your own. You don't get any feedback but the customers'. And there aren't many people to ask questions to.

So I guess for me, the harder would be to identify priorities (I also struggle with this in my life). I see everything as equally important because every action is serving a future purpose. I consider these purposes as important as all the others.

I have 5 projects going on now, and this is way too many.
 

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