The IDEA of being an entrepreneur sounds sexy, right?
I’m not talking about raising millions of dollars in funding to start the next Uber or Airbnb.
Although that is certainly a dream for many and a goal for some.
I’m talking about what you might call “solopreneurship” or even “lifestyle entrepreneurship”.
Ever since I read the 4-Hour Work Week a few years ago, the idea of being able to generate a great income without having to spend 60+ hours in the office every week…
Without working for someone else…
Without wasting my life away in endless back-to-back meetings…
Without having to constantly navigate messy, frustrating and time-consuming office politics…
Has had massive appeal.
It took me a while, but in 2018 I finally decided to give this online business thing a serious shot.
You can find more details about my story HERE.
In the more than two years since I have learned a lot about myself, and about what it takes to be an online entrepreneur.
Perhaps my biggest and most important conclusion is that it is definitely worth it. The last two years have been by far the best of my working life. Bar none.
I don’t regret it for a single minute.
That said, perhaps my second biggest conclusion is that building an online business is NOT for everyone.
There is a big difference between dreaming about it and actually doing it.
To start with, it takes hard work, focus, discipline, organisation, consistency and persistence.
If you look at that sentence and see yourself, that’s a great start.
HOWEVER, in my opinion there are a lot of employees who would fit most or all of those descriptors, but are still better suited to staying an employee.
If you take a step back, in my opinion there are four (4) core things that you need to have in place.
Four elements that you need to give yourself the best chance of success.
1/ You Must Be Comfortable With Ambiguity & Risk
This is not like a job.
There is no job description.
You don’t have someone telling you what to do.
There is no-one looking over your shoulder.
If you pick the right course you may have a process to follow… but it is entirely up to you when, how and even whether you do it.
You don’t have a salary that gets paid to you every week no matter what.
There may be weeks when sales are down… or maybe don’t come in at all.
There WILL be things you do that you think will work, that won’t… you’ll lose money and the time and effort will seem like it was wasted.
You have to be OK with that.
2/ You Must Have A Growth Mindset
This is one I’ve personally struggled with in the past.
Maybe you’ve heard the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”.
Essentially, someone with a fixed mindset believes that character, intelligence and creative ability are static, and we are stuck with what we got.
They believe that success is the product of those things, and tend to avoid failure at all costs because it implies a shortage of character, intelligence and/or creative ability.
Someone with a growth mindset believes that those things can be developed.
They thrive on challenge and believe that failure is merely an opportunity to learn and a springboard for growth.
As an entrepreneur, you WILL make mistakes.
You WILL fail.
If you embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, you will give yourself a chance to succeed in the long term.
If you’re going to avoid failure at all costs to protect your ego, then I’m sorry, but you’re fucked before you even start.
By the way, it’s very easy to SAY that you have a growth mindset.
It’s a lot harder to actually do.
Particularly if you’re coming from a corporate background, where failure, especially repeated failure, is more likely to get you fired than to lead to success.
If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur you need to embrace failure.
You need to take massive imperfect action with no fear of failure.
3/ You Must Be Decisive & Action-Oriented
This brings the last two points together.
As an entrepreneur you will encounter a lot of ambiguity.
There is no job description. No-one telling you what to do.
Yet you need to take massive action, and execute consistently.
That means you need to be self-directed, and decisive.
4/ You Must Have A Strong 'Why'
This last one is in some ways the most important.
At some point, things will get hard. Likely very hard.
Your revenue will fall. Your new funnel won’t convert. Your traffic will dry up. Technology will fail you. A competitor will come along and take a chunk of your audience. Your supplier will deliver late, or maybe not at all. Facebook will cancel your ad account.
At some point you’ll work your ass off for weeks, and have nothing to show for it.
I’m not saying that to scare you off.
It won’t all be like that - most of the time it’s awesome, fun, and well worth the effort. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy… especially at the beginning.
If it was easy, it probably wouldn’t be worth doing.
So what happens when it inevitably gets hard?
Staying in bed with the covers over your head will feel vastly preferable to working.
You’ll think that just sticking (or going back) to the 9-5 grind will be easier than this.
When that happens…
And it will…
How will you keep going?
What will get you out of bed and back on the computer?
I’ll tell you: your “why”.
Your reason for doing this in the first place.
You’ll need to remind yourself of your why, and if it’s strong enough, then you’ll keep going.
You’ll work through the issues.
Tough it out.
Make it work.
BUT if your “why” is not strong enough…
Maybe you’ll roll over and go back to sleep.
Maybe you’ll dust off your CV and look for another 9-5 job.
If you’re going to do that when the road gets a little rough…
Then it’s a waste of time starting in the first place.
So Are You Ready To Be An Entrepreneur?
Hopefully I've given you a couple of things to think about if you’re new to online entrepreneurship, or you’re thinking about getting started.
To be clear, I’m not trying to scare anyone away.
I’m just giving you the reality.
I know that if I was in your shoes, I’d rather know this up front before I even start down this path… than realise it after months of work and thousands of dollars.
And then give up.
So if you feel that you’re:
- Comfortable with ambiguity and risk
- Have a growth mindset
- Are decisive and action-oriented
- Have a strong “why”
… awesome, you’re in great shape. Let’s go!!
If you don’t, you need to either get them… or stick to your 9-5.