COST. It is not a bad four-letter word but it makes most entrepreneurs wince! Sure, you are supposed to know the cost of doing business, cost of ownership, cost of product, cost of marketing and so on. Most entrepreneurs know about costs and how important it is to control them especially when first starting out.
Those are the costs you can see, the costs you can plan for. Unfortunately, there are a great many other hidden costs associated with pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams and you need to take a full accounting of them before you dive in and fully commit to your project. They are not easy to identify and many times are almost impossible to plan for.
So what are those hidden costs?
If you’re like most start-up entrepreneurs, you’ve got no shortage of big ideas. The problem? There is just one of you. Unless you have a fat trust fund to fall back on, you’re going to find yourself having to make hard choices.
Which dream do you pursue first? In making your choice, will those other dreams sit idly by and wait for you? Is it more likely that by the time you see your chosen dream coming close to fruition, the moment will have passed on the others? Odds are excellent that this will be the case. Choosing the “right” dream to chase can be a truly agonizing decision. If your business venture fails, and you find that the moment has passed for the one you didn’t pursue, you’ll find yourself plagued by doubts and questions about what might have been.
Entrepreneurs are generalists in a world of specialists. You know a little bit about a lot of different stuff. You’re the person who HIRES experts such as a web designer or an accountant because you’re not one yourself. That’s great. And necessary for life as an entrepreneur.
Relationships With Your Friends Will Change
Friendships are tricky for entrepreneurs. On the one hand, wouldn’t it be great to invite all your buddies to come work with you on your latest project? The temptation to do just that is great. Often, this leads naturally to your desire to give them a share of the company’s ownership. Because they’re your friends. So why not, right? Sadly, that can have tragic consequences. There are innumerable examples of great friendships flaming out when people start working together. This is even more likely to cause problems when a stake of the company’s ownership is involved.
Work-Life Balance Is In Jeopardy
Most entrepreneurs would probably work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, if they could. It feels as though that’s what is required to succeed. Unfortunately, that kind of determination is generally hard on marriages. If you’re an entrepreneur and have a spouse, it’s important to remember that businesses come and go, but your spouse is with you for life. If you get so wrapped up in your project that you lose sight of that, you could wind up losing your marriage. And the company too.
Take time to explain or involve your spouse and rely on his or her good judgment to rein you in when you start getting too focused on the work. Don’t resent them for it, celebrate it! Talk about the business. Get each other’s support in both business and daily-life challenges. You’ll be better off in the long run.
Remember too that your spouse is probably making monumental sacrifices and probably even putting some of his or her own ambitions on hold so that you have the space to pursue your dreams. Never lose sight of that. He or she is probably the one shouldering most of the responsibility for keeping your household running and keeping a roof over your heads while you’re building the company. Without constant care and attention, that relationship can weaken quickly. It’s very easy for your spouse to start feeling used and neglected.
Your Children Are Important Too
If there are children in your marriage, it will become even more important that you both understand how and when to ask for each other’s help. Or to solicit outside help to give you both some relief. Who is going to take your daughter to the dance recital tonight? Your son needs to be at his soccer practice by 5:00 pm. Do you take some time off to enjoy and celebrate your children’s special events? Setting priority will become an inevitable task you cannot ignore.
Take Care of Yourself
You live and breathe 24/7 with your enterprise on your mind. You can no longer expect a regular paycheck every Friday or at the end of every month. Business is slowing down. Will new orders continue to come in? You need to make payroll and to pay suppliers. It’s another month-end. What about the new clients? No worries. You worry. All the time.
Take a break. Spend a few hours doing something you enjoy. Simple things. Go for a long walk. Exercise. Play sports. Read a book. Or just do nothing or meditate for a few hours. Relax. Allow your energy to be recharged. Let your subconscious mind work for a while.
None of these costs will show up in any balance sheet, or can it be monetized. But that doesn’t stop them from being incredibly important to monitor. These are things you should consider carefully before taking the plunge.
The life of an entrepreneur can be immensely exciting and satisfying, but it can also quickly alienate you from your friends and family if you’re not careful.