Being your own boss at the age of 22 may sound like a dream come true. No managers to answer to, no company rules to stick to, and no awkward team-building exercises. Beneath the glossy exterior, however, lies a much less glamorous reality that has its fair share of difficulties. These are some of the main obstacles I’ve come up against since setting up my company in January.
1. It Can Be Pretty Lonely
Working as a young entrepreneur is an incredibly solitary pursuit. Although some of my time is spent meeting potential clients or interacting remotely with my team who work across the UK, the day-to-day reality generally involves me, myself, and my laptop. While working alone gives me a great amount of freedom, I miss out on the social perks that a team working environment would provide. You can’t really go out for drinks with the team on a Friday night when your team live in different cities (work drinks over Skype aren’t quite the same).
2. You Have to Be Insanely Self–Motivated
Everyone has those days when the alarm goes off and all you want to do is hit snooze and crawl back under the duvet. For most people, the realities of a 9-5 working day, having a boss to answer to, and the prospect of being fired means that this isn’t an option. As a young entrepreneur, however, you have to find that motivation from within, which on some days can be a struggle. As well as motivating myself to get up and out and structuring my own working days, I also have to set my own deadlines. If I don’t meet a deadline, the only person I have to answer to is myself. While to some extent this is motivation enough (because of what I have to lose if I don’t get the work done), it takes a whole new level of organisation and willpower.
3. You Probably Won’t Have Any Money
For the majority of young entrepreneurs, the first few years involve a lot of investment. Unlike my friends starting out in entry-level jobs, I don’t have a regular salary coming in, and while being able to set my own salary is exciting, I’m not currently at a stage where I want to take money out of the company. My business, WOAW, is entirely self-funded, and my day-to-day living comes out of savings of which, unfortunately, I don’t have an infinite supply. While the financial flexibility and freedom of entrepreneurship is one of its long-term perks, when you’re first starting out, the lack of stability can be a real challenge (particularly if you live in London).
Despite the challenges, however, I wouldn’t change a thing.
The freedom and fulfilment I get from working for myself, as shown through my occasionally-excessive Instagram stories, completely makes up for the challenges I’ve encountered along the way.
If you’re considering setting up your own business, however, it’s important to know what you’re up against.
It won’t be sexy, and it definitely won’t be easy, but if you think you have the drive and determination to succeed, it will be worth the risk.