Airbnb. Pinterest. Square. These are just a few of the the hottest startups taking off today. People often marvel at how the leaders of these companies lead them to the promised land. What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? What’s that secret ingredient that helps them persevere through the seemingly impossible?
The answer is that there is no single ingredient that will make you a successful entrepreneur. In fact, there are multiple ingredients. In this post, 9 entrepreneurs chime in on the greatest struggles they face every day. Although the sample size is small, you’ll start to see some common themes start to emerge. The following entrepreneurs were asked this question: “As an entrepreneur, what is the greatest struggle you face daily?”.
Lost time is never found again. – Benjamin Franklin
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos | Twitter
“I think the biggest challenge is that there are so many great ideas but not enough time or resources to do all of them. The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is figuring out what not to do.”
One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular. – Tony Robbins
Neil Patel, Co-founder of KISSmetrics | Twitter | Google+
“My biggest struggle is focus. I have A.D.H.D like a lot of entrepreneurs and I want to do many things at once. Not just in the sense of creating multiple companies at the same time, but doing too many things within each company. Over the years I have learned to focus my time on one company and more importantly making the sure the company only does 1 thing… but that 1 thing really well.”
Pat Flynn, Owner of Smart Passive Income Blog | Twitter | Google+
“Hands down, the biggest struggle I have an an entrepreneur is focusing on one project at a time. I come up with new ideas and get excited about them all of the time, so it’s hard for me to just put those new ideas “on the shelf” for later. In the beginning it was really tough, but lately I’ve been doing well at training myself to finish something first before moving on, or at least get to a good stopping point in a project before moving on to the next.”
Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstoc | Twitter | Google+
“For me, it’s staying focused on the one most important thing. I ask myself the following question, ‘What’s the most important thing I can get done today, this week, this month to make the biggest difference in my company?’ Then make sure you spend the majority of this time solving those problems. Most of us don’t do this. Most of us have a long list of shit to do – STDs. We spend our time on these things, but these don’t help our businesses grow and move forward. There’s often a very small set of things that if we do right will make the biggest difference in our businesses. They’re often the hardest to do so we put them off. But if we continue focusing and leave those STDs alone, I promise you your business will grow.”
Sean Kelly, Co-founder of H.U.M.A.N Healthy Vending | Twitter
“Waking-up every morning and first deciding what I’m NOT going to do, being ok with it, and sticking to it…while simultaneously breeding a culture of “Yes!” around me that pushes our team to come-up with new, creative improvements on a perpetual basis. This is a tricky balance that I’ve forced myself to learn over the years and am still far, far away from perfecting.”
Building A Great Team
Recruiting is hard. It’s just finding the needles in the haystack. You can’t know enough in a one-hour interview.
So, in the end, it’s ultimately based on your gut. How do I feel about this person? What are they like when they’re challenged? I ask everybody that: ‘Why are you here?’ The answers themselves are not what you’re looking for. It’s the meta-data.- Steve Jobs
Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz | Twitter | Google+
“I’d have to say that for me, it’s the ability to build the right team. This isn’t just hard once – it’s hard every year because it’s a new and different challenge each year. The right people for a 5-person consulting shop are vastly different than the right people for a small software startup, and sometimes, even those “right” people don’t grow and scale successfully as the company matures. We’ve had some phenomenal folks come through Moz, but only a subset have stayed on. In my early career, I thought that was a sign of failure, disloyalty, bad hiring and mismanagement. While I’d say that those are sometimes to blame, it’s also true that individuals and companies don’t always take the same paths, particularly in a fast-growing startup environment. Becoming OK with that, learning to seek out the right strengths and managing the transitions – sometimes up and occasionally out – has been my biggest struggle.”
Jake Wood, Founder of Team Rubicon | Twitter | Google+
“Surrounding yourself with the right people. Everyone around you must share the same vision and passion; if those don’t align, then your endeavor is bound to just limp along.”
Ben Lerer, CEO of Thrillist and Jackthreads | Twitter | Google+
“For me the biggest struggle is dealing with the emotional ups and downs. I love Thrillist so much that a bad day at the office can physically hurt and the highs are downright intoxicating. I’ve gotten better at keeping things in perspective but its still tough to carry so much emotional baggage around in my professional life. Man, I sound like a whiny bitch. this ok?”
Time, focus, team building and emotion are the just the tip of the iceberg – figure out what you struggle with the most and then work on optimizing processes to make your life easier.
What’s the biggest struggle you face every day?