These days, it is sexy to be an entrepreneur. Startups are the New Black and being the master of your domain is better than toiling away in a cubicle.

But being an entrepreneur is difficult. It’s a challenging not to have a regular paycheck, benefits or vacations that let you disconnect. Running a business is intense, involves lots of hours and lots of ups and downs.

It is probably why becoming an entrepreneur is a scary proposition, which is why most people never do it.

For people, however, who have the drive to become an entrepreneur, crossing the chasm isn’t always easy. There are concerns about leaving a full-time job and how they’re going to attract business.

As well, people give themselves reasons to not become an entrepreneur because there is risk involved. Some people believe the time isn’t just right, or they need more experience.

In some respects, taking the leap is like standing on the dock at a cottage. You believe the water is cold so there is a hesitation to jump in. Then, someone pushes you in the lake. At first, it’s a shock to the system. In time, however, the water is refreshing.

When you decide to become an entrepreneur, it’s quickly you against the world. Your survival hinges on how well you can adapt to marketing, selling and eating what you kill. It easy to be overwhelmed and it takes a lot of energy to do everything to tell the world that you’re open for business.

For many entrepreneurs, the first year is the most challenging because there’s so much work. Often, you’re learning on the fly and hoping people will have enough faith to buy your services. If you can survive year one, a foundation for success is established.

For people thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or those who have taken the leap, here’s some advice:

It’s not about the money. It sounds strange but starting your own business is more about pursuing a passion, dream or lifestyle. It is being your own boss, controlling your destiny and, hopefully, selling a product that you believe in.

You need to take a new approach to how much you want to make. Some compensation will be money to pay bills, the mortgage, groceries, etc. Some compensation will be taking off Friday afternoons, walking your kids to school in the morning, or playing early-morning hockey. Some compensation will be not spending hours commuting to the cubicle.

Make it easy for people to know what you do. Be clear about the product or service being offered so potential customers can easily decide if they’re interested. When I started my consulting business, I told people I did everything from messaging and writing press releases and blog posts and doing workshops. As well, I was writing a column for a newspaper. It was a buffet of services that people found confusing. I had to drastically reduce my “menu”. The less I offer, the easier it became to sell.

We live in a digital world but business happens when you meet someone face-to-face. It is a coffee meeting, speaking at an event or attending a conference. The more you get out there, the more opportunities will emerge. People buy from people they like.

Drive leads and sales with a Website that enhances your brand. You need a Website that lets people quickly learn about you and your products and makes it easy to contact you. A Website that is confusing or looks like someone’s nephew built it does not build confidence. You need clear messaging, information content and good design. Remember, you usually get what you pay for.

Always be selling and closing. Regardless of how much work you’ve attracted, more potential customers need to come into the pipeline. When you’re doing work, you still need to sell. When you’re selling, you need to be doing work. It’s a tough balancing act.

Running a business is an always-on proposition: At times, the hours are lengthy and your business never stops running. Even when there isn’t a lot of activity, there is always things to do: checking email, writing blog posts, meeting for coffee, reading content, etc.

Being an entrepreneur can be an amazing journey. You will be challenged, always be learning and, hopefully, create something that delivers a quality lifestyle. If you don’t take the leap, it is impossible to know what’s involved.

Are you a startup looking to jump-start your marketing? I helped dozens of startups drive more awareness, leads, and sales. There are different ways we can work together – everything from messaging to strategic planning and content to get customers into and through the sales funnel.