The 5 toughest things entrepreneurs face when starting a business

Starting a new business is exciting, especially when you have an idea you know will help others. But having your own business is also stressful.

Even when you take all the right steps — selecting a business model, writing a detailed business plan to attract potential investors, leveraging social media to build a customer base, and focusing on cash flow — your small business may still struggle along the way.

Here are five of the biggest challenges new entrepreneurs face, even with extensive planning and determination. Don’t be afraid of these common challenges. Almost all successful entrepreneurs overcome them at some point, and you can too.

  1. Lack of support

  2. A lack of support is one of the many challenges you may face when starting your own business. It can be tough when others don’t believe in your idea, your ability to succeed, or you as a founder in general.

    Get a mentor or business adviser to build support when family, friends, and colleagues aren’t there for you. Even other young entrepreneurs can provide support because they may have experienced some of these challenges and found a way to move past them. Their advice and hard work can inspire you to keep going even when those closest to you may not support your vision.

  3. Lack of money

  4. No one likes going without money, but you may have to forego that regular paycheck or deal with no revenue until you can get to market with your product. It’s even worse when you don’t get the venture capital funding you thought it would be easy to tap into.

    Focus on what you need to do to generate revenue. Keep a lean budget so you can stretch what you do have. Learning to operate a business with little money may help you stay judicial with your finances even when the revenue is rolling in.

  5. Lack of confidence

  6. It’s easy to succumb to self-doubt because of your own worries, criticism from others, or lack of support from friends and family. You may wonder whether you’ll be able to succeed. These feelings may also creep in when your target audience doesn’t respond as enthusiastically as you thought they would or if external factors slow your business growth.

    To get past your lack of confidence, dig deep and focus on what you’ve achieved and how far you’ve come. Make a list of achievements; this may help you realize just how much you’ve already accomplished, including barriers you’ve overcome. It may also be helpful to consult with a business coach or mentor to talk you through this mental block.

  7. Lack of a clear pathway

  8. Despite having a clear vision, you may reach a point where you don’t know how to align your business goals with that picture. There’s also a chance that you’ll be hit with something unexpected and have to deal with problems that you didn’t think would ever happen to you.

    Stay calm and address these issues as soon as you can. Focus on moving ahead. Look at your business plan to see where you are.

    Reviewing your overall strategy, time line, and tactics may clarify that pathway. If not, it may be time to conduct more market research to determine if you need to take a different approach to moving your business forward.

    Not having a clear pathway may mean a pivot is necessary, which is another reason to conduct more research.

  9. Lack of experience and knowledge

  10. Eventually you‘ll hit a point in the learning curve where you feel clueless. Maybe you don’t know how to create an effective marketing strategy or how to develop a new product. Maybe you lack experience making a budget, negotiating, hiring talent, or balancing the books.

    You may feel lost, but what’s really happening is that you’re just early in the process. Take time to learn how to do the things you’ve never done before. Benchmark what others have done rather than reinventing the wheel.

    For instance, look at what the competition has done with their social media or lead generation to see what worked and what didn’t. Doing this can give you much-needed experience while helping you avoid costly missteps.

    Other ways to build your knowledge include taking online courses, attending a workshop, or participating in an industry conference. Some entrepreneurs watch every YouTube video they can find on a subject and learn that way. Work one-on-one with your team members, like your developers, to better understand what they do. You can absorb that information to make better decisions about investments, tactics, and roles.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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