What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be an entrepreneur!!!
That’s what all the kids are saying these days. Instagram quotes and happy YouTube videos are tricking people into thinking that entrepreneurship is glamorous and fun. It’s the opposite.
For me, being a business owner wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. The truth of the matter is that I have a terrible attitude, an authority complex, neurotic tendencies and emotional insecurities. I’m not suitable for a regular job. It wouldn’t matter how much money it paid.
Eventually, I would get fired because I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut. Living this way is my only option. I’ll die on my sword.
Being a business owner isn’t the same as being an accountant. There are no classes that teach you how to refrain from having a nervous breakdown when you’ve lost your biggest client or when you’re burning tons of cash every month.
If you are thinking about starting your own business, I would first ask yourself why you want to start a business.
If you want to be an entrepreneur because you have a calling or a burning desire inside of you, then being an entrepreneur is what you are. But if you want to be an entrepreneur because you think it’s cool, I suggest first that you take some time to reflect.
It’s not what it looks like on social media. There are some things you will need to learn. There are some hard realities to come to terms with.
This article is designed to make you aware of those realities. These are the things I wish someone taught me.
1 – Tax Code is Really Important
It absolutely blows my mind that we are never taught us tax code when we were young.
On average, 1/3 of all your money will go to taxes, and yet our school system never takes the time to teach us how to manage our money, how to manage our expenses and most importantly, how our spending habits will affect our taxes.
How is this possible?
Let me paint a scenario for you.
You open up a business. Your dad tells you that you should start an LLC because that way you can separate your business from your personal finances. If your business ever gets sued, you won’t be sued personally.
You get your first client.
You hire a web designer and you pay that designer $600 to get you a simple design. After that, you pay a writer $200 to write some blog posts and content. But soon, you bring in more revenue so you decide that having an in house employee is the next step.
You hire your first employee. She says she wants to be hired as a formal employee, she doesn’t want to work as a contractor. That means you need to set up a payroll system. This means federal income tax, medicare, state tax (maybe), and unemployment.
About 7 months go by. Your accountant tells you that you should set up your LLC as an S-Corp. But you say that you want to keep it an LLC because that’s what your dad told you. Your accountant says that you can do both.
Finally, the end of the year comes around. Your accountant says that you need w-9 from your contractors to send them 1099 and w-2 from your employees to send them their w-4. He also needs to get you your k1. You need to report all of your expenses and then add up how much money you set aside for your taxes. Subtract that by what you donated and then run that by how much you put in your IRA or your 401k.
What the fuck?
Everything I just described is surface level accounting. That’s not even getting into write offs, losses, investments, real estate, owning a home, health insurance and a ton of other factors.
If you want to own your own business, you need to learn tax code. You need to learn it in and out and you need to take it seriously. It’s incredible how much money people miss out on because they don’t understand how to leverage their money to save on taxes.
No one ever taught me about taxes and I wish they had.
2 – Personalities are Real and You Need to Manage Them
Everyone is different.
Everyone is motivated by different things.
Some people like to tell dirty jokes, other people get extremely offended. Some people like to put their head phones in and work and others like to be involved in conversation.
When you hire employees, you’re doing more than bringing in a body, you’re bringing in a new personality.
In the beginning of my entrepreneurial career, I needed to believe that I was in charge. I was the one writing the checks every week, so I should be the one that people listen to.
“Just do what I need you to do.”
But the reality is that in order to build a successful business, you need to be constantly replacing yourself. You need to let go of control and most importantly, you need to trust the people working for you.
As soon as I took a step back and I made an effort to be more open to different personality types, the sooner I was able to learn from the people on my team.
Everyone has something to offer. Everyone is good at something and the truth of the matter is that everyone I have ever worked with has taught me something valuable.
If I was never able to build up the courage to let people take charge, I never would have been able to scale.
I still have so much room to grow. I still have so much to learn. But I wish I learned this lesson years earlier than I did, because I would have saved myself so much stress and so much unnecessary tension.
No one ever taught me how to work with other people. I probably offended and upset everyone I’ve ever worked with because I didn’t know how to deal with different personalities. Learning this skill is one of the most important skills I’ve ever learned.
3 – Being an Entrepreneur is Painful and Uncomfortable
I have anxiety every second of every day.
When you first start your own business, you are full of optimism. You see only bright blue skies and success in your future.
Which is great!!
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is enjoying the success. Right? If not, then why would we do it?
Except no one ever tells you what it’s like to live with such uncertainty. Every single day you wake up is a day that you are 100% in charge of your life. If my business is slow, I have to figure it out. If my sales are down or my web traffic is down, there is no one for me to blame and there is no way out.
I have to solve the problem.
Every entrepreneur will learn that it’s better to be proactive about avoiding problems than it is to let problems sneak up on you. So every day, entrepreneurs are looking over their shoulders, trying to see what’s coming around the corner.
I’m always looking for the next catastrophe that is going to fuck my life up.
No matter how successful you get, there will always be fires to put out. Very rarely are my days filled with comfort and celebration. My days is filled with problems, serious problems that I need to solve.
No one ever told me how uncomfortable it is to be an entrepreneur. No one ever warned me about the tension and anxiety and uncomfortable conversations. No one ever warned me about the constant worrying. No one ever taught me how to keep people motivated and looking in the same direction when things aren’t going well.
Over the years, I’ve been forced to learn.
That is the reason why most people fail.
Being an entrepreneur is a painful experience, full of ups and downs and highs and lows. Full of stress and angst and tension and pain. When the pain becomes greater than the desire to succeed, that’s when you will quit.
I’ve always wanted to succeed more than I’ve wanted to avoid pain. I’ve learned how to manage my emotions in times of uncertainty and that is the reason why I never crack under pressure. Entrepreneurs need to be prepared for this, because the hard times will come. Believe me.
I love this shit.
I love it. I love my work. I love what I do. I love the challenge. I would encourage anyone to start a business or a personal brand because the lessons you learn will change the way you see the world. It’s an amazing test of stamina and will and discipline.
But sometimes I worry.
I worry about the trendiness of being an entrepreneur. I fear that people (especially young people) will skip out on an education or learning a trade because they are excited about calling themselves an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur is more than a career or a job, it’s a lifestyle. Your entire life is centered around your work. If you have the stomach for it, if you’re willing to endure, I think you will find that owning a business is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your life. The juice is definitely worth the squeeze.