The decision to start a business of your own is one of the most important ones you could ever make. Entrepreneurship is a journey that will transform you in more ways than you can possibly imagine. You’ll learn things about yourself and others that will open your eyes and challenge your long-held beliefs.
However, it will likely take some time to achieve the level of fulfillment you desire. Along the way, you’ll face various obstacles that would quickly discourage the average person. How far you get in the business world will be determined by how you choose to handle these difficulties when they arise.
Here are the top 7 challenges you’ll face as a young entrepreneur:
#1. Finding the right business.
The first challenge you’re likely to face is finding the right business to get into. If you’re not providing something people actually need, you’re not going to get far. You also have to believe in what you’re doing and in everything you say that you stand for. If you don’t, you won’t be able to convince others to believe in you, either.
Remember that while you may think you’re selling your products or services, what you’re really selling is yourself. You are the one who has to deliver whatever it is you are promising and if you can’t provide that kind of quality, they will look elsewhere and your business will fail.
#2. Financial and legal issues.
Financial and legal issues will be with you from day one. First, you’ll need money to start your business. How much you need depends on the nature of your business, but there’s a good chance you’ll end up borrowing at least some of it. You’ll also have to learn how to manage your money properly and the more simply you live, the easier it will be to create a budget you can live with.
Don’t forget to set money aside for your taxes, legal protection, and whatever permits or licenses your type of business may require. The last thing you need is for the government to step in and crush your dreams before you’ve had your first taste of success.
#3. Finding suppliers.
If you are selling physical products, you’re going to need suppliers of one sort or another. This means you’ll have to open distributor accounts with various different manufacturers. While it’s not terribly difficult, it can seem that way when you’re just getting started.
This is especially true when you lack the business and/or personal credit that can make them feel good about doing business with you. In these cases, you’ll either need references from other companies you’re doing business with or you’ll have to prepay for a while. Just remember to be patient. If you’re nice and easy to work with, you will soon put them at ease.
#4. Finding customers.
Finding customers will be one of your most difficult challenges, when you’re first getting started. Unless you’ve stumbled upon a product or service that is completely unique and in tremendous demand, you’re likely to have competition everywhere. Fortunately, today’s interconnected world makes it possible for you to reach customers from around the world, as well.
The biggest hurdle will be luring them away from larger companies with more brand recognition and a more established reputation. You’ll have to provide higher quality, lower prices and a more personal touch than what they’re typically able to offer. Chances are, their overhead and expenses are much higher than yours. This means you should be able to charge less for your products without taking a hit.
#5. Hiring employees.
When it comes time to hire employees, you’ll probably have to learn as you go. It’s not easy to identify, recruit and train the right type of people and it could take some time before you have the winning crew your new company needs. This can be particularly challenging in a small town, since top talent has a way of migrating away to the bigger cities, in search of greater opportunity.
Keep in mind that if your business is the type that can benefit from telecommuting, you’ll have a tremendous advantage over other businesses that require their employees to live in the area. You’ll save a ton of money on utilities, office supplies, and even your lease, since you won’t require as much space. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a good chance your employees will be happier with this arrangement, preventing you from having to spend your time looking for replacements.
#6. Rejection and criticism.
If there’s one thing you’re sure to face as a young entrepreneur, it’s criticism. Your family and friends might indeed mean well, but you can’t expect non-entrepreneurs to understand why you would choose to take on such risk when you could more easily land a job working for someone else. They won’t share your passion for what you’re doing. Whatever you’ve set out to accomplish is something special and close to your heart. They probably won’t be able to relate to this and may not give you the credit you deserve until you are well-established and the money starts coming in.
As if that wasn’t enough, you probably won’t be taken very seriously by others in your industry. You’ll be fighting stereotypes based on a negative view often associated with today’s millennials. The only thing you can really do about this is to prove them wrong.
Even if you are successful right away, there will be those who feel threatened by your success. If they’re older entrepreneurs, they may be envious of the fact that you’re doing better than they ever have. Older friends and relatives may view your sudden success as a slap in the face, especially if they have always prided themselves on being the wise ones. The bottom line is that you should expect several of your cherished relationships to change in some way, even when you have done everything right.
#7. Stress and self-doubt.
While you will undoubtedly benefit in many ways from the experience of entrepreneurship, the challenges mentioned thus far are likely to cause you plenty of stress along the way. You’ll struggle to make money and you’ll struggle to keep it. Many entrepreneurs have shared stories of living in their cars or offices for several months, while trying to get their businesses off the ground. That’s a level of commitment that not everyone can manage.
When you allow stress to get the best of you, you may begin to doubt yourself and wonder if you made the right decision. This type of self-doubt can be very depressing, especially if you have poured all of your savings into the venture and taken on a substantial amount of debt. This is why it’s particularly important to take care of your physical health. The effects of stress can ravage your body and quickly take matters from bad to worse. You’ll find that exercising regularly, eating properly and meditating can go a long way toward helping you cope with the rigors of entrepreneurship.
Ultimately, you’ll have to deal with far more setbacks and challenges than can possibly be mentioned here. The most important thing to remember is to never give up. You must be fully committed and prepared to get back up each and every time you’re knocked over. If you can learn to do that, you’ll have what it takes to be a successful young entrepreneur.