The Hard Part about Being an Entrepreneur

I used to think being an entrepreneur was hard. I still think that, but for different reasons.

Being an entrepreneur is technically very easy: Solve somebody’s biggest problem. Charge them for the solution. 

The secret formula isn’t so secret. Ask people to describe the pain they’re in, and what it would mean if that pain went away. Listen. Tell them about the solution you’re going to make. Get them to pay you BEFORE you make it. Go build their solution. Sell it to them (and other people like them). Charge enough so you can keep doing it. Refine, then repeat the process.

I used to think being an entrepreneur meant coming up with a brilliant idea, one that could sell itself. I thought it meant you had to know how to run all the separate parts of a business — accounting, advertising, logistics, etc. I thought it meant you had to be working around the clock, just to ensure survival.

It means none of those things.

The best entrepreneurs I’ve met don’t trust their own ideas; they only trust their customer’s problems. 

The best entrepreneurs I’ve met don’t run every part of their business; they delegate everything that’s time-consuming, annoying, or difficult.

The best entrepreneurs I’ve met don’t paddle like crazy; they set up systems that run automatically, selling their products and services while they sleep.

All of those things are actually fairly easy to do. They take a lot of work, sure, but they can be done.

The hard part about being an entrepreneur is battling yourself.

You have all these doubts and insecurities running through your brain, all the time. Those thoughts don’t go away when you have successful experiences under your belt; you just get a little better at pushing through them. But that’s not the only problem…

You don’t think you can sell to people without being scammy. You don’t charge enough because you’re afraid you’ll upset your customers. You want everything to be done perfectly, so nothing gets done. You do everything yourself, so nothing is great. You believe it’s someone else’s fault whenever something doesn’t work out. You focus on the complete wrong thing (social media, networking, non-urgent “URGENT” emails) — anything but talking to your customers and selling.

You spend more money than you have, on things that make no difference. You don’t spend enough on your employees. You mentally whip yourself for past failures. You keep your head in the clouds about future successes. You’re never in the present moment. You work timidly because you’re not clear which direction you’re going. You don’t collect email addresses because that might annoy the customer. You don’t use your email list because that might annoy the customer. You don’t know your own numbers because it takes five minutes to look up, and that’s too long. You never ask yourself, “What if this fails?”

The list goes on, and on, and on.

I used to think being an entrepreneur was hard.

And it is, but only because you’re the one who’s in charge.

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Charlie Hoehn is a speaker and the author of Play It Away (“Here's the cure to your stress!” -Tony Robbins) and Recession Proof Graduate. He has presented at the Pentagon and three TEDx events. His article about the importance of play is the #1 result on Google for the search “cure anxiety." He was the former Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss, and helped launch The 4-Hour Body (#1 NYTimes bestseller, million copies sold). Charlie's work has been featured on NPR TED Radio Hour, Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.

This Post Has 9 Comments

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  3. Dave

    I am jealous of your beard and your grizzly-man-who-just-found-Play-It-Away-on-the-forest-floor photo. Oops sorry that just slipped out. Charlie, man. This post is gold. Thank you.

  4. Alec Barron

    It’s like you’re reading my mind!! :)

    I think this battle over self is a challenge for more than just entrepreneurs. It’s a battle for anyone trying to make something of their life.

    As Plato writes, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.”

    Until you can do this, you’ll keep on struggling to do anything meaningful. Unfortunately, I’m still figuring out how to conquer my self.

    Great post, Charlie.

  5. A.K.

    I relate to this a lot- I’m a part of Noah Kagan’s “Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur” course- and the number one sticking point people have is not an external factor. It’s always some self limiting belief or untested assumption that holds them back.

    This post came at a good time. I needed this.

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