5 Things I Wish I knew Before Becoming an Entrepreneur - Lean in Canada

I had a successful sales career, consistently hit my targets and was making a great living, but there was still something missing. I felt unfulfilled, unsatisfied and couldn’t seem to muster the passion for my work. I realized that in order to do something I was truly passionate about, I had to do it for myself. That was the moment I decided to become an entrepreneur.

1. You will be broke.
As someone who planned to leave a steady job and chase entrepreneurship, I put money aside to get me through the dark days of business building to cover essentials like rent, food, and maybe some fun. But even with that preparation I still found myself bordering on a $0 account balance – and boy, was it rough. Coming from a well-paid sales career, my lifestyle was pretty frivolous. I love shopping, I love eating, I love wine and I love travel – all of those things cost money; more specifically, disposable money. As an entrepreneur, all your money goes into your business, or essentials like groceries and rent. As you can imagine, it was quite the adjustment, and a little bit of a realization that I may have had a shopping problem. I eventually adjusted my lifestyle to cater to my new financial situation, but for the first couple months it was a total drag.

2. You will think about going back to work… often.
Yes, entrepreneurship is great in the sense that you are the master of your own time. No one is telling you what to do, you can make your own decisions, and ultimately you are your own boss. But even when things are on the up and up, the allure of taking the easy route will always creep back in. Not a week has gone by that I haven’t thought about throwing in the towel and going back to a regular sales job. However, every time I really consider it, something in my gut stops me. It pulls me back and reminds me why I chose this path in the first place. While this sounds great, the feeling is usually temporary.

3. You will be ULTRA emotional.
Prior to being an entrepreneur, I can confidently say that I was a highly unemotional individual (in fact I think my tear ducts never fully developed). Fast forward, and I am a huge ball of emotions ready to burst at any moment. Consider this: the working world is the norm. It’s the structure we’ve been raised to understand, and there is a ton of comfort in knowing that a regular paycheck is always on its way. Now, consider entrepreneurship. You are the provider of that (hopefully) regular paycheck. Your bank account, and whether or not you can afford to feed yourself that night, depends on every single action you take. If you fail, you have no money.

Stressful, nerve racking, ominous and terrifying, right? Yes, it is. You will confront emotions that you didn’t even know existed and, as a new entrepreneur unaccustomed to managing the emotional ups and downs of running a business, it’s a challenge.

4. Friends and family won’t support you.
This is the most heart breaking of all the truths, and as a first time entrepreneur, it hit me the hardest. I come from a very close family, so when I decided to start my own business I immediately expected that the floodgates of support would open and that I would be bombarded with well wishes. I was wrong. I was met with radio silence, lack of interest, and doubt – it crushed me.

At first I was super sad; the sadness turned to anger, and the anger started to turn into resentment. The only thing that brought me back from completely cutting off the people I loved was talking with other entrepreneurs going through the exact same thing. I quickly learned that entrepreneurship is a very lonely road, and the lack of support from friends and family wasn’t because of a lack of love but a lack of understanding. I’ve come to terms with it now, and instead of looking to traditional sources for support, I’ve built a support system of amazing, like-minded people who understand what this path is like and are willing to share insight and be beacons of inspiration when times get rough.

5. It’s not glamorous.
Coming from a client-facing role where I had to look great everyday, take prospects out to lunch and generally schmooze, not leaving the house for three days at a time was a huge adjustment. I love dressing up, and built a beautiful professional wardrobe to always keep me looking fresh in front of clients. But when it came to the first couple months of entrepreneurship, I realized that I wouldn’t be using that pretty wardrobe anytime soon. Business planning, website design, research, etc. – all of these things didn’t require dealing with other people, and for two months straight it was just that. I truly realized that this life was going to be much different and when I was filming a daily vlog series it hit me. I looked up and realized that I was wearing the same sweater in three consecutive posted videos! What had become of me?

Finally, it’s a rush and a truly rewarding experience.
Aside from all of the hard truths mentioned above, I ultimately don’t regret my decision to become an entrepreneur and build a business. While every day has had its ups and downs, the level of fulfillment I have received from pursuing something I’m truly passionate about has helped me overcome the hurdles of entrepreneurship. I still have a lot to learn, but my biggest piece of advice to anyone considering the road less traveled is this – do what you can to prepare, understand that there will be a ton of unknowns, and ultimately resign yourself to enjoying the experience.

About the author: Heidi Fortes is a regular person who chose to do something extraordinary. Find out more at heidifortes.com.

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