Leaving the 9 to 5 to start a business for yourself is a dream to which many people aspire. We want freedom. We want to work on our own terms. We want to be creative in the work we do. Most of all we don’t want someone telling us what to do.
As exciting as that seems, leaving your job and becoming an entrepreneur also comes with many challenges. Most of them are in your head. You can get to that place of freedom, but it requires breaking out of old, comfortable mindsets and starting on a path toward continuous growth.
Here are 4 major shifts you need to make if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur after being an employee. These are hard truths to embrace, but they will make all the difference in your long-term success.
As an employee, someone else will tell you what to do. They will make the decisions and you’ll do the work. As an entrepreneur, you will have to make the decisions, then you have to do the work. You are responsible if it fails. You can’t put in on anyone else.
That can be a scary thought. It can also be incredibly freeing. You now have creative control over the work. You can take advantage of the opportunities that arise. You can choose who to work with. You also have to live with the choices you make. Business relationships are on your shoulders, now. You have to work things out between you and your clients.
All of the decisions fall on you. You decide what has to be done, and when it has to be done. Then you have to make sure it actually gets done – the right way. Take responsibility. “Own” the business.
Sitting in an office all day is not the same as working to grow your business. Many employee-type jobs require you to spend your 8 hours every day in an office. As you get more proficient at your work, it will take less time to complete it. Eventually, you’ll have several hours in the day where you can coast.
It’s easy to get comfortable with the idea that as long as the boss sees you in your office every day he will assume you’re a valuable asset to the company. Essentially, you learn to do “enough” to keep your job and continue getting that paycheck. Even if you spend most of the day browsing social media or watching cat videos, you can always fall back on the comfort that you at least traded your time to be there.
When you shift to entrepreneurship, you can sit in an office all day, every day if you want, but if you aren’t doing the work it won’t matter. That familiar “employee mentality” stress might sneak its way in to your mind, and you’ll want to sit in that office until 5:00 so you feel good about yourself. Meanwhile, the work isn’t getting done.
No one is going to force you to work. There is real work to be done and you have to do it. No one will know if you did it but you. The only person you have to be accountable to is you. Be honest about your motives. Don’t lie to yourself. And then…
Checking email is not real work. Browsing Facebook for “leads” is not real work. Reading the news is not real work. There are plenty of things you can do to fill up the time and give yourself a false sense of productivity. Being an entrepreneur means putting your head down and hustling. It means grinding out the work that needs to be done – the work that actually contributes directly to growth. Sometimes it’s fun and exciting. Many times, it’s not.
As an entrepreneur, you will encounter many learning curves. You’ll find yourself face-to-face with a task that you have little to no experience in. So, you have to learn it. You may have to be bad for a while so you can get good. Do it anyway. You will get good, eventually.
You also are responsible for all of the work and whether or not it gets done. At some point, you just have to do it. The fear of failure can easily sneak in and derail your productivity. We often call it procrastination. Don’t kid yourself. It’s really fear. Facing fear and conquering it is a major part of being an entrepreneur.
Do the real work.
Sometimes you’ll get rejected. Sometimes a plan doesn’t go “as planned”. Sometimes an opportunity falls through. Things happen, and ultimately you have to decide the course of action to take. The easy road is to work for someone else, and rest in the comfort and security of the employee path. Sit in your office for the required 8 hours and do enough of your job to stay there – safe and predictable. But to be an entrepreneur is to take a different road – one that isn’t charted yet. There are no guarantees.
As an employee, you’re hired to do one job, usually something you are already skilled in. Anything that is not related to your position goes to someone else. You wear one hat. That’s comforting to know.
As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats – all of them at first. You can’t pass the buck. Everything comes to you. When you take responsibility, force yourself to come up with creative solutions, learn the things you don’t know, and embrace the process of unpredictability you will see tremendous growth, not just in your business, but personally as well.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If something needs to be done but scares you, do it anyway. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish if you force yourself to come up with a solution.
Most of all, do the work.