Expectations are half the battle. If you’re prepared ahead of time, it may give you that extra push to stick with it until you break through. Here’s a slice of what you’re getting yourself into and possible outcomes when you starting a business (don’t worry – it’s not all negative!)

1. Not every business idea is going to be a home run (or even work).  But that doesn’t mean you’re not cut out to own a business

We all love the idea of hiring a private chef and traveling around the world first-class, but it takes a lot of work just to make any money with a business, let alone Uncle Scrooge-level coinage.

When starting a business, be prepared to make very little, nothing or even lose money in the beginning after you factor in startup costs. Knowing that ahead of time is going to help you get through the initial rough patch and actually give a chance to succeed. That being said, not all ideas are money-making ones. Sometimes it comes down to timing (you may be too early or too late), market demand or even you. You may not be able to give that particular business the attention it deserves to make it work.

All of this said, it doesn’t mean you’re not meant to own a business. Don’t read into it! It just may mean this business won’t work right now.

Want a peek into the future regarding the viability of your potential business? Read this post on validating your business idea.

2. Just because a business didn’t work one way, doesn’t mean it won’t work ever.

We are firm believers in choosing a business model, pricing, and marketing that matches your resources and goals. If you don’t have a ton of capital to work with, going with a brick and mortar business model with lots of overhead is pretty much setting yourself up for failure. But perhaps that same service or product could have been sold a different way? Or priced and marketed to a higher-income level demographic?

If you can’t get an idea out of your head and you just know it will work (even if it’s already failed!) don’t give up just yet. Thomas Edison failed ONE THOUSAND times before making the lightbulb work. These three quotes from him sum up this section perfectly:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”

You may think, “Well I’m not Edison.” But even if you tried an idea a fraction of the times he did, you’d be way ahead of all the people who stop as soon as they hit an obstacle.

Want to make your idea successful? Put in the work to make it happen and don’t give up!

3. Sales aren’t the measure of success – profits and impact are.

Am I doing something to help others? Am I able to pay myself a reasonable wage? These are probably the two most important questions to ask yourself as you launch a business. It is completely normal to be in the red or not making much money when you first start out. But if you’ve been at it for a while (years) and you’re still not able to turn a decent profit, you may have a hobby on your hands – not a business.

One HUGE thing to remember: Sales are just the revenue you bring in. The profitability (and success) of a business is determined by what’s left after you deduct the costs to perform the service or make the product (materials, labor, overhead, marketing costs, etc.). Many of those just starting out may factor in the obvious stuff like costs of materials, but it’s the little things that can add up and kill your profit margin.

Don’t underestimate the impact part though – if you are helping others and making a difference, that is important. But if you have to make a living too, you may have to change course to make it work.

4. Starting a business requires sacrifice & perseverance, so you better pick something you love to do.

Entrepreneurial burnout is a very real thing, and it happens to people incredibly passionate about what they do. So imagine how quickly you’d burn out working at something tirelessly (sometimes without pay) that you’re “meh” about.

Passion is so important in a business. If you can’t be super passionate about the subject matter (we are small business 24/7 at our house!), then focus on the impact and the other benefits that having a business provides, such as freedom and flexibility. But ideally, you’d love it all!

5. A fancy education or years of experience don’t guarantee success when starting a business.  Hard work, a willingness to learn and adapt, and a desire to help others matter way more.

Starting a business is the great equalizer and it’s why it’s called the “American dream.” You can come from nothing and be wildly successful (just take a look at most of the sharks on Shark Tank), or you can be born with a silver spoon in your mouth and fail miserably. Money won’t make people buy your stuff if you’re a jerk, and 175 business classes are not going to prepare you for the day to day situations you’ll face in your specific business. It’s theory – not real life.

But good news! We’re living in the age of information, where a kid can upload a video to YouTube and be a millionaire pop star a year later. All the info you need to run business is out there, as well as business coaches and other support from folks who have done it. It just may take longer if you’re DIYing. (P.S. if you are a DIYer, check out this post on using Fiverr)

Many make the excuse that they’re unqualified or won’t be taken seriously because they are bootstrapping and don’t have experience. You may actually be in a better position than those who come into a business thinking they know everything and throwing a bunch of money at it (a great book on this is “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John). They have an ego and false sense of confidence that will likely get them in trouble immediately.

Business is about providing a service or product that people want. NOT what you think they want. Bazillions of dollars have been lost on hubris and thousands of businesses have failed because of this.

So if you are a good listener, willing to take feedback and adapt and think beyond just profits, we’re putting our money on YOU.

6. Marketing and sales won’t matter if you don’t have the basics built.

Everyone thinks if they just get more people in the door, or more leads, or if they had money to advertise that everything would explode. But all the money in the world won’t help if your business is broken. Things like poor customer/client service, spending money on the wrong tactics, or even developing products without sound research and feedback are just a few examples.

Develop a sound business first, then promote it. It takes some time and it’s not sexy, but that’s how it has to be done.

7. Get ready to be uncomfortable, feel awkward, and get rejected if you’re going to break through.

We hate to ruin the pretty dream, but not everyone is going to love what you do. And not everyone is nice about telling you so. For the haters, it often comes from a place of jealousy and insecurity. They don’t have the courage to do what you’re doing so they want to bring you down to their level. If it’s family or friends, they often don’t understand and they don’t want to be left behind. To succeed, you’re going to have to accept that this may happen and learn how to tune it out and do YOU.

Fear is perhaps the #1 reason people never get their business started. Fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear of rejection, and on and on. They like their safe space where everything is stable and predictable. If you haven’t figured it out already, owning a business can often be the opposite of that. But man, it’s FUN! And very, very rewarding both personally and professionally.

There are a million quotes about why you should chase your dream, take the risk, be courageous, and do what you feel called to do. But the truth is that entrepreneurship is not for everyone. The purpose of this post is to keep it real and give you a little preview of what it’s like – the good and the not so good.

We hope you’ll read this and choose to charge ahead. The world needs you and what you have to offer!


Are you ready to start your business? Let us know in the comments what your next step is, or get in touch with us on Facebook or Instagram if you want some help figuring it out!