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As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, it’s not always easy. In fact, it’s almost never easy. Most entrepreneurs have to start out with little financial backing and sometimes even less moral and emotional support. If you think back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what most people crave is stability.
Being an entrepreneur is all about rocking the boat. You have to go against the grain and take a risk.
According to Gerard Adams, founder of Elite Daily, one the most important qualities of being an entrepreneur is perseverance. Because the likelihood is that you’ll face a lot of ups and downs on your road to success.
Many a door will close in your face and you’ll feel like giving in. You’re probably also going to get lonesome on your journey to the top. Here are 10 reasons why entrepreneurship will make you feel alone:
1. Entrepreneurship Means Breaking The Mold
People feel more comfortable when they do things in groups. We seek the validation of our peers to gauge if what we’re doing is right. We follow a pattern. We stick to social norms and conventions.
But if you’re an entrepreneur, you have to fly in the face of all that conventionalism and break the mold.
This is a hard step to take. You have to have faith in your convictions, your product or service, even when society (and maybe even family and friends) is telling you differently.
When you feel like you’re the only one invested in your idea, it’s easy for self-doubt and loneliness to creep in.
2. You Need to Deal With Rejection
It’s likely that throughout your entrepreneurial journey, you’ll be turned down more than once. Whether it’s a pitch to an angel investor to attract finances for your business, or a new client you desperately want to woo, you’re going to face rejection.
But being given negative feedback can have a negative effect on ourselves. Being rejected can make us feel lonely. We start to question what’s wrong with us, our product, our service, our idea.
But before you get caught up in self-doubt and fear, remember: you’re not alone. Actually, you’re in great company. Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Madonna, and even Albert Einstein were all turned down at some point along the way. Even Steve Jobs was fired from his own company.
3. Entrepreneurship May Leave No Time to Socialize
You probably already know this, but just in case you need a reminder: being an entrepreneur is hard work. Especially at the early stages when you’re cash-strapped and wearing various hats.
It’s easy to lose touch with family and friends when you’re working round the clock on a presentation or trying to close a deal. You may not realize it at first. Maybe it sinks in one day as you flick through your Facebook and see photos of your buddies at a party without you. Or that your best friend’s baby has started walking and you haven’t even met her yet.
I could lecture you all day about the importance of finding work/life balance. Because looking after yourself and your support network is important. But it can also be impossible at times. And during those times, entrepreneurship will make you feel alone.
4. You’re a Leader, Not a Follower
Being an entrepreneur takes courage. You’re a leader, not a follower – and you have to be brave. Setting out on any journey alone can be daunting, especially when you feel like you’re going against the tide.
But learning to be a leader means learning to deal with feelings of loneliness. Often, you need to defend your decisions on more than one occasion.
CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA, Heidi Hayes, knows a thing or two about that. Before she figured out what she wanted to do, she studied her undergraduate degree in political science followed by a Master of Arts degree.
After serving in the Peace Corps, she decided to change direction and go into medicine. Hayes’ personal situation inspired her to learn the business of assisted reproductive therapies, and today she’s CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA, offering national egg donor programs and helping couples start their own family is now her life’s mission.
Not everyone was supportive of her decision and change of direction, just as not everyone will be supportive of yours.
5. Staying Ahead of the Pack
Once your idea or plan has backing and your company is up and running, you have to continually separate yourself from the competition. Staying ahead of the pack means keeping a safe distance from the pack. And being separated from the pack can make you feel alone.
When the competition is snapping at your heels, you have to think of innovative ways to stand out from the rest. Sure, you may have a team of experts on board with you now to keep you company. But the basis for a sound friendship is not one where you’re paying people to spend time with you.
6. Learning to Delegate is Hard
Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll tell you – learning to delegate is one of the hardest, but probably most important things to learn. You get so used to doing everything yourself in the beginning that giving up control isn’t easy.
You may like doing things a certain way. You may have made the wrong hiring decisions in the past. Your trust issues might get in the way of rescinding control again.
But taking a step backwards isn’t only good for your health, it’s essential for the health of your business. Building a team of people who are smarter than you or better in certain areas is the key to continued innovation.
Plus, having someone to bounce ideas off can help relieve your isolation.
7. Making Important Decisions is Tough
You’re going to have to make some really hard and really important decisions as you progress down the entrepreneurship path.
Sean Hopwood, President of Day Translations was just starting out his company when he scored his first big client.
But he had to agree to their payment terms of net60. Between assigning resources and hiring translators, the whole project was going to cost around $25,000 to complete. A lot of money for a bootstrap startup. What happened after successful completion? The client refused to pay.
Hopwood was left with the dilemma of not paying employees, or being out of pocket (and potentially out of business) himself. So he took out (and maxed out) a credit card for $10,000 and emptied his personal savings.
His belief in his company paid off when they made $2.7 million at the end of that same year. But the burden to carry was his alone.
8. You May Intimidate People
Let’s say your big idea succeeds, your company’s successful, and you’re turning a handsome profit. You may have even reached the stage where you can take a backseat and catch up with some social dates. So, why do you still feel alone?
Because being successful can come with unwanted side effects. You need to surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to challenge you. That bright light you exude leaves a lot of people blinded.
If you’re always surrounded by yes-men and women, eventually your business will suffer. You’ll feel alone and unfulfilled, unchallenged and unmotivated.
9. No One Seems To Understand You
Let’s face it: once you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll always be an entrepreneur. You may find that your family and friends don’t understand you, or what drives and inspires you. They may never even understand what it is that you actually, physically do.
Take multi-billion dollar entrepreneurs like Richard Branson or Bill Gates. They certainly have enough money to stop what they’re doing and retire. But something causes them to continue innovating and creating. It’s in their entrepreneurial nature.
So if entrepreneurship makes you feel alone (it’s lonely at the top, they say), you can find support in like-mined communities. Join networks of entrepreneurs who understand you. Whether you’re just starting out or you want to impart wisdom and experience, check out places like Fownders, Startup Grind and Young Entrepreneur Council. They can all be great places to meet, network and find your community.
10. You Fall into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
If you’ve spent your whole life being branded as weird or feeling like a black sheep, then you may fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you hear enough statements repeated about yourself you might start to believe them.
But just because a lot of people say the same thing, doesn’t make it right. Being different isn’t a bad thing.
In fact, being different is more important than being better. Only you have the keys to your destiny and the choice of who you let into your life.
Be aware of these pitfalls so you can avoid them. Don’t let entrepreneurship make you feel alone.