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The 8 Things Nobody Tells You About Being An Entrepreneur

Sometimes, you might have to dumpster dive.

24/07/2016 2:33 PM AEST | Updated 30/07/2016 9:11 PM AEST
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Being an entrepreneur means learning to deal with the unexpected.

So, you've taken the plunge into the entrepreneurial waters and it's all going swimmingly.

But over time, you realise that the things you thought you knew go out the window and you're forced way out of your comfort zone.

If only someone had given you a head's up. Here, four small business owners do exactly that, letting you in on the eight things nobody tells you about being an entrepreneur so you can prepare, as much as possible, for the unexpected.

1. Flexibility is crucial

Kristy Withers, founder of children's furniture brand Incy Interiors, said being an entrepreneur means you have to think on your feet, be flexible and able to change direction in a heartbeat.

"You get things humming along smoothly and then something changes and what was working fabulously yesterday is now a complete flop," she told The Huffington Post Australia.

"It's important to remain agile and deal with situations as they arise."

Incy Interiors
Kristy Withers, founder of children's furniture brand Incy Interiors, says as an entrepreneur, you need to be flexible.

2. You become an expert in many different fields

"From manufacturing to marketing, you will have your hands in every single aspect of your business," said Chloe Brookman, founder and creative director of global home decor brand Olli Ella.

"Just doing what you are great at, or really enjoy, is not really on the table. On the plus side you do become an expert, and at the end of the day that feels pretty great."

3. Mental health has to be a priority

Jock Fairweather, founder of co-working space Little Tokyo Two, said that being an entrepreneur was exhausting work, and while that was OK, you had to compensate for the mental stimulation and focus it requires.

"You have to set aside time for yourself so you can keep hitting your goals," he said.

He said you also needed to learn to switch off -- your phone.

"You will find that your phone goes with you wherever you go and you become reliant on it," he said.

"It holds your contacts, calendar schedule and ideas. The first time you accidentally leave your phone somewhere, you will most likely feel a stab of panic. How will you reach people? Remember a phone is just a phone, don't let it give you anxiety and backup your information for extra peace of mind."

Olli Ella
Chloe Brookman, founder and creative director of global home decor brand Olli Ella, has become an expert in her field.

4. You never switch off. Ever

Detch Singh, co-founder of curated influencer marketing company Hypetap, said no matter how hard you try not to, you'll always be thinking about your business.

"It will be that thing you think about in the shower, when you're in the car and before you go to sleep at night," he said. "The amount of time you spend on it also means that it is often how people define you. Expect it to be a major topic of conversation with old and new friends alike unless you choose to steer away from it."

Brookman agrees.

"It doesn't matter what they say about work-life balance or switching off -- as an entrepreneur, it's impossible," she said.

"If you aren't talking it, you're thinking it, and when you're not thinking about work, you're dreaming about it. It's that little twitch in the back of your mind, a little itch that never really goes away."

5. You have to get your hands dirty

Being an entrepreneur means that sometimes you have to do the dirty work, Withers said, like "jumping in a skip bin in the pouring rain".

"That was me yesterday! It's unbelievable the things I have done over the last six years just to make sure things get done properly," she said.

Little Tokyo Two
Jock Fairweather, founder of co-working space Little Tokyo Two, says entrepreneurs need to learn to not panic if they're separated from their phone.

6. Expect an uphill battle, at least initially

Singh said that if you're trying something new with your business, don't expect people to see the value right away.

"As the first influencer marketing software in the Asia Pacific, we spent our first six months trying to convince agencies and brands that influencer marketing was going to be a huge category," he said.,

"While a small number thought it was a good idea, the initial demand wasn't great at all. It took months of education sessions, meetings and market maturity before we saw the real fruits of the work we'd put in as a team."

7. You have to lead, but accept you can't do it all

Being able to delegate is a big lesson you need to learn if you're going to be a successful entrepreneur, Bookman said.

"On the one hand you need to lead by example, inspire your staff and set the tone for your brand, and on the other you need to be able to let go of aspects of your business that would be better served by someone else and delegate these tasks to them," she said.

Fairweather says that even though you might think you can do it all alone, you don't have to.

"When you start out it is necessary to take on a lot of responsibilities but being the jack of all trades and master of none is not going to be the most efficient way to grow your business and get the results you need. You'll come to this realisation on your own that it's OK to ask for help and, in fact, you'll have no choice."

Hypetap
Detch Singh, co-founder of curated influencer marketing company Hypetap, says entrepreneurs are always thinking about their business.

8. Where you start, might not be where you stay

The business you start with may not be the business you end up with, Singh said.

"We started out as a pure software tool, but having a regular dialogue with our clients helped us realise that there was a huge gap in the market," he said.

"Remaining open minded and willing to change the business was really helpful in helping us mature as a company."

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