This article was published on June 23, 2014

16 surprising things you learn about yourself when starting a business

16 surprising things you learn about yourself when starting a business
Danny Wong
Story by

Danny Wong

Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award-winning luxury menswear company). He is also a marketer-at-large for Conversio (an all Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label (an award-winning luxury menswear company). He is also a marketer-at-large for Conversio (an all-in-one ecommerce marketing dashboard), Tenfold (a modern phone intelligence platform) and Big Drop Inc. (a web design and development agency). Want to connect? Reach him through his website.

Danny Wong does marketing at Shareaholic, is the co-founder of Blank Label and likes to write every once in a while. Feel free to find him lurking on Google+ or Twitter. This post originally appeared on the Coworks blog.

Starting a business is one of the most challenging, yet most fulfilling things you could ever do. In the process of starting up and growing a company you learn a wide variety of new things, including – but not limited to:

  • Incorporating your business
  • Setting up business banking
  • Streamlining payroll
  • Hiring (and firing)
  • Driving sales
  • Setting up and managing a marketing budget

At the same time, you discover incredible things about yourself – some encouraging, others not so much. Amazingly, this is all part of the adventure that is starting a business.

The rest of this article is full of spoilers, so if you’d rather learn these things on your own, stop reading and start doing. Otherwise, if you want to prepare yourself for the journey ahead, see what starting a business reveals about you.

Don’t miss: The guide to measuring customer loyalty effectively

1. Some days you’re invincible, other days you’re completely fragile. But you’re completely OK with that because, now, you’re more honest with yourself about your emotions.

2. You love breaking the rules, especially if you can get away with it. In order to get ahead, you learn to break conventions because there’s, both, something sexy about running against the current and walking the fine line between what you actually can and can’t do.

Just make sure you’re not screwing anyone over in the process because bad karma can really suck.

3. Sacrifices — financial, physical and emotional – are easy to make, tough to balance. You assume credit card debt without giving it a second thought. You exercise and sleep less, eat more junk and sometimes forget to leave the house. You shut out friends and become married to your work.

Of course, doing anything well requires a lot of discipline and is a perennial balancing act. You’ll want to make select sacrifices; you just have to be smart about them.

4. Money matters, but not as much as you’d think. You won’t stop caring about money, you’ll just care less.

Most entrepreneurs take unimaginable pay cuts because they get to do what they love and see no appeal in a higher-paying job that they know will be unfulfilling.

5. Others’ needs come before your own; sometimes, you’re selfless to a fault. In order to grow a successful business, you’ll need to make customers your number one priority and know that your team also comes ahead of you.

6. Your gut instinct is almost always right. Notice how I said almost?

7. You quickly realize who you love working with (so you hire them) and can’t stand to see in the office (so you fire them). Just be prepared to act as soon as you realize this.

8. Some things are better left unspoken; others are better communicated via email. Meetings suck. Most are filled with unproductive jibber-jabber and worst of all, they’re disruptive to workflows. Therefore, you learn to communicate effectively through email or instant message, especially if your team is remote.

9. You need others because you can’t possibly succeed alone. Quickly, you realize your own limitations and that scares you; so, you find people that can complement your skills and build things you could never build on your own.

10. Time is more valuable than money. So you spend it wisely, optimizing for performance when you can and paying for tools or services that’ll help you work smarter, not harder.

11. Free time is worth cherishing. As your work becomes more and more consuming, you begin to realize how much you love the downtime you budget. There’s always something to be said about scarcity.

12. You’re your own obstacle. Competitors aren’t a real threat. You’ll realize you should be most worried about self-sabotage.

13. You can work hard, really hard, and still have enough energy to run a marathon. As exhausting as it is to run a business, it is also invigorating if you know how to appropriately channel your energy.

14. You’re too stubborn to fail. As much as the media and startup folk around you assert, “Failing is good,” you, instinctively, spend an excessive amount of time trying NOT to fail because you’re too scared to.

Eventually, you’ll get over this fear and will learn to embrace failure, especially when you realize your inability to let things go hinders greater forward progress.

15. Your work provides a lot of meaning to your life. Sometimes, you lean on it too much as a measure of your own self-worth. But in time, you develop a healthy relationship with your work which makes it incredibly meaningful without defining who you are at your core.

16. AND you realize that work isn’t the only thing you should be doing. So you develop hobbies outside of your business, which make you feel fulfilled and productive even when you’re not at work.

For better and for worse, starting up a business changes you. It’s not an adventure for the faint-hearted, but for those with the will to do it, there’s a lot to learn, especially about you.

Don’t miss: The guide to measuring customer loyalty effectively

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