Entrepreneurs typically start businesses when they notice an opportunity to serve an underserved market, creating an opportunity to profit. For some, it’s the draw of setting their own schedule and choosing where they work. For others, it’s the prospect of working toward making a real difference in the world and having a true interest in what they do each day. Having control over decision-making is another common motivator.
At the same time, business professionals understand that there is inherent risk involved with launching a new company. That risk can take on different shapes, and it often manifests in a series of obstacles, especially for first-generation entrepreneurs—those starting a business for the first time.
While these obstacles should not detract someone from pursuing their dreams, entrepreneurs would be wise to be aware of any possible complications—and prepare for them. Entrepreneurs should take into consideration this list of common setbacks so that they are better equipped to navigate them as they come about.
Securing sufficient funding
First-generation entrepreneurs almost always start out from scratch financially, which is a tough obstacle to overcome. New businesses require funding to get off the ground, and they need even more to keep growing. There are a number of ways that startup owners can secure funding, and finding the right way(s) takes an investment of time.
Safeguarding against legal liability
When forming a business, entrepreneurs should seek out the guidance and assistance of a legal professional. Bypassing this step can quickly create unnecessary stumbling blocks in the future. The issues business owners generally run into are some form of intellectual property dispute or matters of taxation structure.
Put simply, entrepreneur burnout is a very real thing. New business owners get caught up in the excitement of the process and try to do too much too fast, and they end up running out of energy. Pacing oneself and finding ways to automate basic processes is absolutely crucial to any entrepreneurial endeavor.
Mastering the art of delegation
Some entrepreneurs who finally get their project up and running find it difficult to let go and delegate what they’ve worked on for so long to someone else, even if it’s only the smallest of tasks. This leads to fatigue, but it also prevents the business from growing because the leader is never free to think about bigger matters.
Creating a strong customer base
Even the best products and the services in the world need strong marketing, especially when they are brand new. Along with marketing, entrepreneurs need to provide a memorable experience for their customers to keep them from going elsewhere. Building up an initial client base is no small task.
Dealing with loneliness
It can be lonely at the top without having someone to look up to for guidance or support. Plus, entrepreneurs typically spend significantly more time working than their colleagues or employees. Time spent alone is one of the toughest hardships of starting a new business, one that people rarely discuss.
Knowing when to listen to others
Alongside feeling lonely, entrepreneurs must also be careful about what advice they listen to and from whom. Plenty of people will be willing to offer their opinions and perspectives, but a startup owner doesn’t have the time to hear them all, nor does he or she have the ability to apply every suggestion. Finding a judicious balance between what to internalize and what to tune out is thus another obstacle.
Building the right team
Some businesses scale more quickly than others, requiring a rapid flow of talent additions. Just adding the first or second employee can prove to be trying, since the company is new and the culture has yet to develop. Even entrepreneurs who have a clear vision of what kind of employees they want still run into this challenge.
Improving the product
A big challenge many entrepreneurs face is knowing how to improve the product that they start out with. Whether that depends on new technology, resources, or a combination of factors, overlooking the need to refine and retool can be problematic in any business.
Many entrepreneurs decide to take the plunge while they are either still in school or working at another job. Figuring out how to prioritize responsibilities in these scenarios can be overwhelming until the entrepreneur is able to commit full-time to the business.
Realizing the difficulty of sales
After brainstorming a great idea, developing the dream product or service, and putting a business into motion, some entrepreneurs run into the stark realization that they don’t know how to sell, nor do they like it. Startup owners should keep this in mind and hire the right people to fulfill those responsibilities so that they can focus on what they do best: innovate and lead.