Get Real: Dealing with Unrealistic Expectations as an Entrepreneur

July 12 2020
Phil Bedford Written by Phil Bedford

Unrealistic expectations are a common issue in life.

You convince yourself that you can change the woman or man that causes you misery because you expect love to cure all things. You tell yourself that you can still have a great and productive day at work after you’ve spent all night binge-watching Netflix.

Most entrepreneurs enter the business playing field with an optimistic approach. They believe that they’re going to change the world, or at least their industry, in a matter of months. However, while it’s a good idea to be positive, your unrealistic expectations can also increase your risk of issues in the long-term, by making it seem like you’re failing when actually, you’re just achieving realistic results.

Since one of the most important parts of running a successful business is having the right mindset, today we’re going to look at some common unrealistic expectations for entrepreneurs. As part of our 7 deadly startup sins campaign, this article will guide you through the process of getting your expectations aligned with the real world.

Why are Unrealistic Expectations Dangerous?
Before we take a look at some of the most dangerous expectations you can have for your business, let’s take a moment to understand why the wrong mindset can be so dangerous for a startup. First of all, unrealistic expectations can cause you to make risky choices.

For instance, when you think your business is going to change the world, you might convince yourself to scale rapidly or invest more than you can afford because you believe so much in what you can do. Unfortunately, this could risk your company’s future and your personal finances too. Make sure that you don’t rush into things without knowing for certain if your business idea is lucrative.

Another way that unrealistic expectations can become problematic is by making you think you should give up on your goals. When you first launch a company, it’s unlikely that you’ll make a profit straight away. If you convince yourself that you should be making money from day one, then you’re going to end up feeling like you’re failing.

So, what are some of the expectations you need to address?

I Need to Work 7 Days a Week
A lot of business owners launching new startups need to go above and beyond to make sure that their company is thriving. The chances are, this will mean putting a few extra hours into your company and working longer hours at first. However, you don’t always need to be working seven days a week to claim that you’re a successful business owner.

There are plenty of communities out there that seem to celebrate the hustler – the person who’s constantly working to drive their company to the next level. However, you need to remember that balance is crucial in life. If you burn yourself out by committing to more than your body can reasonably handle, then you’re not going to succeed in the long-term.

Running my Business Should be Simple
When you start a company doing something that you love, it’s easy to assume that it should be relatively simple to accomplish great things. After all, you’ve planned everything out and made sure that you have the right finances and tools in place to set you on the right track. However, business is rarely as straightforward as it seems.

Sometimes you can do everything right, and still, struggle when it comes to things like maintaining a consistent profit or making sure that you always hit the nail on the head with product development. You’re going to have ups and downs when running your business. Don’t get caught up in the idea that every mistake or issue is a sign that you’re failing.

I Should Accomplish the Same Things as my Competitors
Competitor analysis is helpful when you’re running a startup. It allows you to set benchmarks so you know what you should be aiming to accomplish. However, comparing yourself to other businesses is rarely a good idea. Even if a brand seems to have started in the industry at the exact same time as you, and done the same things, you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.

Every company is different and keeping your eyes on your competitors all the time to see what they’re doing means that you’re not paying attention to your own growth. Focus on developing the best version of your business that you can, and don’t let yourself get stuck on comparisons.

Opportunities Will Come to Me
Most people know that the best opportunities won’t fall into their lap if they don’t do anything to pursue them. However, there are still business owners out there that assume that they can just wait for success to come to them because they’ve taken the right initial steps. For instance, just because you have a website where people can find your products doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly going to get a lot of traffic the moment after you launch your site.

To make sure that people are actually finding your company, you need to invest in marketing and promotional strategies, like paid advertising, SEO, and even social media. In the same way, being a part of an important networking group in your industry won’t mean you suddenly develop connections with all the market leaders in your space. You’ll need to engage in the conversations that make those relationships develop.

I’m Going to Fail
Finally, one of the most common unrealistic expectations an entrepreneur can have isn’t necessarily “My business is going to make me a millionaire.” Although there are a handful of people out there who think that they can accomplish a lot more than they reasonably can with their business, it’s far more likely that you’ll tell yourself that you’re going to fail whenever something small goes wrong.

Ultimately, running a business is hard. There’s a good chance that you might not achieve the success that you’re aiming for. However, if you go into your life as an entrepreneur expecting to fail, then you’re going to end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Making sure that you have the right mindset as a business owner isn’t about telling yourself that you’re definitely going to win or that you’re going to lose.

Instead, you need to be willing to take each up and down in your company as it comes and roll with the punches. Accept your failures and learn from them and tell yourself that you always have room to improve and get better. Stay positive but be prepared for anything. That way, you’ll be ready to tackle the topsy-turvy world of the startup.

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