You’re listening to a guru pitch you on his program for wealth, dreaming of millions in the bank. You leave the seminar pumped up, pockets a little lighter due to the cost of the weekend training, but ready to take on the world.
Except it’s not that easy. Here’s one thing no guru will tell you: success is hard and the further you go, the harder it gets.
Making it in the entrepreneurial world takes lots of work, flexibility, and a willingness to take risks. Work ethic is the most important factor in the game, but I’ll say it again, to drive the point home:
The further you go, the harder it gets.
This is important, because a lot of times, it’s ignored. When would-be entrepreneurs start a business, they hope to eventually sit back and coast on the revenue stream, having paid their dues early on.
The sad truth is, most businesses don’t work like that. Often, the more success you have, the more you grow, and the more success you need to sustain that growth. Instead of getting easier, the challenges become larger in scope as the stakes become higher. There’s a reason why more than half of small business fail within five years. If you’re one of the lucky ones that make it past the five-year mark and $1M in annual revenue, the simple truth is that it doesn’t get any easier.
“…the skills that helped you start your business are often different from the skills it takes to lead that business to success.”
The guru’s pitch about passive income, working 15 minutes a day, and making millions on the beach sounds amazing. I admit… The Four Hour Work Week changed my life when I read it in 2007. But it’s just a mirage to the majority of entrepreneurs.
The reason why it gets harder as your business grows is because the skills that helped you start your business are often different from the skills it takes to lead that business to success. You have to adapt, and that’s difficult for many people. You have to let go of the daily things that make you successful and think strategically. You have to understand that you can no longer do everything and everything takes longer to happen—which is by far the most frustrating part!
With that said, why would any sane person want to build their own business? If your only reward after success is longer hours and more struggle, why keep going?
Because a steeper climb isn’t the only reward. As the stakes grow higher, as your company grows more, so do the financial incentives. So does your own inner strength and sense of purpose. And, perhaps most important of all, you become your own boss. You get to call the shots. But the struggle is real; the climb does get harder. And as it becomes harder, it’s important to ask yourself why you’re in the game, and how you’re going to cope with these new challenges.
Here’s what I’ve learned during my journey: I’m really only good at a few things.
1.) I understand the business of hard money loans because I LOVE IT! I love the risk/reward, the people, the math, the creative solutions… I love it all! It’s my passion—and working on your passion is its own reward.
2.) People trust me because I’m not afraid to have the tough conversations and tell them the truth—even when it doesn’t benefit me.
3.) Because of reason #2, I’m able to build relationships with people that will ultimately create real and lasting mutual success. This approach has been described to me as “shoulder to shoulder” sales—and it’s where I shine.
Everything else… I’ve learned to defer to people that are a lot smarter than me. I spent the first three years of Rain City Capital all by myself. From 2009–2012, I was basically begging people to trust me with their money, even though I’d just lost my entire net worth.
Talk about an uphill battle! I did every little loan I could do and then called the borrower once a week to see if they were going to pay me off. I drove by the house of my first loan every two weeks until it paid off four months later—it was the longest four months of my life!
2012 was when Rain City hit the “hockey stick” of growth. Since then, we’ve grown to $200M in annual loan volume, almost $100K in annual charitable giving, and a team of twenty-eight amazing and dedicated people who have fun and get s#!t done.
“Imagine being the teacher and all your students are smarter and more capable than you, but expect you to show them the ropes.”
Although I’m proud of my company’s success, the simple fact is that I have very few discernable skills. I’m completely unorganized and lack experience in growing a company. My shortcomings were highlighted every step of the way. But now, I have twenty-eight people staring at the least skilled person in the room looking for answers.
Imagine being the teacher and all your students are smarter and more capable than you, but expect you to show them the ropes. It isn’t easy; however, when I talk with successful entrepreneurs, the one thing I see is people being themselves and hiring to their shortcomings. We all have shortcomings. Understanding yours and owning them is what separates the most successful entrepreneurs from the rest.
The further you go, the harder it gets, but if you hire the right team to share the burden, you’ll make it to the top.