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3 hard truths about being a founder

young woman entrepreneur in her business

These days, it seems every other person wants to be an entrepreneur. Social media’s exalting of ‘hustle culture’ perpetuates a fantasy of the startup founder—overnight success, untold riches and a life of freedom and Ferraris.

Of course, anyone who’s actually started their own companies knows this image couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are the challenges of creating and running a successful company immense—fundraising, building the product, getting a good team together, marketing, etc.—the whole process takes a huge toll on your emotions, and even once the company is running smoothly, the threat of chaos and disorder is always around the corner.

Here are three hard truths every potential founder should know before starting their own business:

1. Work-life balance is a myth

man working at his desk late at night
Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash

Running a startup will consume everything. The sheer amount of energy and time required to get it going, then maintain it, will be more than you’ve ever expended before. You will work insane hours and be forced to give up on a lot of the pleasures you enjoyed in the past.

Your personal relationships will suffer, whether it be missing family occasions or foregoing dinners with friends; you will have to stop some of your hobbies, or at least spend a lot less time on them; and, unless you’re very careful or monkishly disciplined, you’ll eat badly and be too exhausted to exercise, so along with your mental health, your physical wellbeing will take a hit, too.

2. You’re pretty much on your own

Yes, you might have a friends who are founders. You might even have a mentor. But as a founder you are ultimately on your own.

All the snags and issues that inevitably arise during the startup phase and beyond—not having the cash to pay your team, conflicts with co-founders, disgruntled investors, problem employees—these are are things that you will basically have to deal with on your own. You are the leader, you are at the helm, so all of it is ultimately your responsibility.

3. The sacrifices will be significant

close up of man's hands with dirt on them after working
Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

While we’re often presented with image of the founder celebrating another successful round of fundraising, or selling their business and retiring at 50, what’s not seen or spoken about much is the hard sacrifices they had to make to get to that point.

As a founder, no matter what is going on in your personal life, whether it be relationship issues, family illness or your own wellbeing, you are always expected to show up to provide ideas, solutions and direction. And even if you have a strong team who are all on your side and working hard towards your vision, there will be occasions when nobody but you will be prepared to make the sacrifice required to move the business into its next phase of growth.

Sound tough? It is. But…

One of the best things you can do to ease the burden is join a peer group. Regular meetings with other founders and business owners gives you the space to air your fears and concerns (as well as celebrate successes).

A peer group will also put you at the same table with more experienced founders who have been there and seen it all before. They will be able to offer invaluable, real-world advice and perspectives. Being part of a peer group also means you’re less likely to trip over the same entrepreneurial hazards as others, because the knowledge and experience you’re exposed to will help you avoid them. A good peer group will also offer strategies for better wellbeing.

Being part of peer group will encourage you to keep going when things get hard, make you accountable and, most importantly, make you feel less alone.

  • Find out more about Evolve’s peer groups here.
  • Find out about our Leader’s Community here.

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