Entrepreneurship is a journey filled with obstacles that every hopeful business owner must defeat if they want to prove they have what it takes to succeed in the business world. And while some obstacles are easier to overcome than others, some can be lifelong hurdles entrepreneurs will need to work to climb in order to find true success and happiness.
To share their own insights into this journey, 10 members of Young Entrepreneur Council discuss the biggest hurdles most new entrepreneurs struggle to overcome and why and what they recommend doing to emerge victorious on the other side.
1. Feeling Uncomfortable
In my experience, the biggest hurdle entrepreneurs face when starting out is the fear of the uncomfortable. Entrepreneurship is unique in that there is always something new to learn—a chef now needs to learn QuickBooks, a dentist now needs to grasp paid ads strategy and an accountant suddenly needs to understand leads and funnels. The solution to this hurdle? Lean into the discomfort. Lean into not knowing. Lean into adaptation. Lean into doing the things that feel a little awkward but that are crucial to your growth. Comfort should be the thing that truly scares you. Comfort breeds complacency, and complacency stunts growth. – Daniel Voskin, Goals Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery
2. Facing The Fear Of Failure
Many new entrepreneurs face a visceral fear of failing. Starting a new company comes with significant risk and responsibility, which can lead to apprehension. Add in the uncertainty of a pandemic and accompanying economic turmoil, and there’s obviously additional anxiety for both new and seasoned entrepreneurs. My advice—which one of my mentors shared with me as I founded OJO—is to embrace this fear and channel your focus toward making sure it doesn’t become a reality. Instead of trying to eliminate fear, harness it to propel you forward. This mindset has helped me see around corners, conduct business and make decisions that protect the company against unknowns. Ultimately, it was this approach that allowed OJO to thrive and grow through challenging periods. – John Berkowitz, OJO Labs
3. Understanding Their Finances
One huge hurdle many entrepreneurs struggle with is understanding their finances. Just because there is money in the bank does not mean there is profitability, and if there is not enough cash in the bank, that doesn’t mean the company is not profitable. Entrepreneurs tend to confuse cash in the bank with profitability, and often it is a timing issue. Understanding your gross margin by business line or service, gross profit by customer, gross profit by employee and other metrics like this will help you understand where you are making money and where you might be losing money. It’s critical to slice and dice your numbers and understand your finances. Some key metrics I find important are your current ratio, days sales outstanding (DSO), inventory turnover and days cash on hand. – Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc.
4. Remaining Patient And Consistent
I would say the biggest hurdle is patience and consistency. You must make up your mind to keep going, and you won’t regret it. The accumulation of steady, consistent and incremental efforts over time is what constitutes “overnight” success. This applies to making sales, building a team, generating revenue and so on. Sadly, the vast majority of would-be business owners give up and throw in the towel just before they start to see significant results. – Chimezie Emewulu, Seamfix Limited
5. Doing Everything Themselves
The biggest hurdle that most new entrepreneurs struggle with is trying to do everything themselves or overextending. While this might be necessary at first, if you do not have help when first starting your business, it is critical to get yourself to a point where you can rely on the experience and expertise of others to move your business forward. I’ve struggled with this and sometimes continue to fall into the mindset that I have the time to do certain things for the benefit of my business, even though it may not be the best use of my time. If you do not delegate, you will absolutely burn yourself out, and the business will suffer as a result—not to mention that you will not be in the right frame of mind to bring your best to the table. Focus on your priorities first, like revenue generation. – Kristy Knichel, Knichel Logistics
6. Feeling ‘Behind’ Everyone Else
So many new entrepreneurs think they are never going to “catch up” to the people who are achieving huge things in their niche. Endless scrolling online does nothing for a new entrepreneur’s self-esteem and puts them in an endless comparison game that can kill momentum and belief. The solution is to use the people they admire as inspiration by seeing those people as evidence of what is available to them. Where others are winning is simply evidence of what is also available to you. – Leanne Lopez Mosley, GROW Coaching Solutions
7. Prioritizing And Managing Their Time
Being passionate about the product or service you’re offering is vital, but entrepreneurs often fail to realize that time management and prioritization is often more important, as it determines the path your business will take and how other departments will take action. When outlining your business plan, ask yourself: What are the tasks that will have the biggest impact? Am I being realistic about timelines and deadlines? What can I do now to help my team improve efficiency? Should I ask for help? Being an entrepreneur is a privilege, and once you understand the responsibility you have—not only to your business, but also to your employees, customers and yourself—you’ll learn to turn your passion into strategy, intentional decisions and a long-term commitment to everything you do. – Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow
8. Letting Underperforming Employees Go
Entrepreneurs have to overcome the fear of making personnel and organizational changes, particularly when it comes to letting go of employees. Some of the startup CEOs I know did not make the timely decision to let go of underperforming employees because the conversation is hard to handle and hiring takes time. They hope that if the employees stay around for a while, they will eventually fix their performance issues. Letting go of underperforming employees, especially for an early-stage startup, is crucial to keeping positive team morale. CEOs need to provide employees with all the coaching they need, but they also have to be transparent when an employee is underperforming. – Chenyu Ren, Markai, Inc.
9. Focusing On One Idea
The biggest challenge when it comes to being an entrepreneur is focusing on one idea. The more you bounce from idea to idea, the less focused you become on whether your solution is better than what is currently out there. A great idea becomes successful when you focus on an idea so much that the finest details of the solution are completely thought out. – Kevin Marcus, Versium Analytics, Inc.
10. Dealing With Setbacks
A lot of people give up after their first failed attempt, but it’s important to remember that failure is part of the journey and it’s only through continuous effort that you will eventually achieve your goals. Perseverance is key for any new entrepreneur. It’s also important to be resilient and have a positive mindset. No one ever achieved anything great without enduring some hardship along the way. So, stay focused on your vision, keep pushing forward and don’t let anyone or anything get in your way. The only person who can stop you from achieving your dreams is yourself. So don’t give up, and never quit. – Kelly Kercher, K3 Technology