The line grows and grows, full of anxiously waiting people. Some have even camped out overnight to reserve their place at the forefront of the crowd. When the doors open, they swarm inside—racing, pushing, pulling hair and snatching packages from each other. To some, this might sound like a nightmarish situation, but ask the people who brave Black Friday or wait in line for a new product or movie, “Was it worth it?” and most would probably say, “Yes!” Why else would they go through all that? Similarly, take the doctor who goes through years of expensive and grueling medical school and then a rigorous residency or internship. When they get an official job, it still isn’t easy. Long days, night shifts, emergencies, lawsuits and witnessing the pain and suffering of others are all things they continue to deal with on a regular basis. But is it worth it? Again, most doctors would undoubtedly say “Yes!” When you want something badly enough, you are willing to pay the price because the payoff is worth the sacrifice. The same idea holds true for being an entrepreneur. Is starting and running your own business easy? No. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Here are some areas where I’ve experienced both challenges and rewards while building my own company: #1. Taking on a Business Partner There are definitely advantages to working with a business partner. They can help you spread the work and risks, acquire investment cash, bring contacts or skills you lack to the table, etc. But, in exchange, you give up some control and decision making power. Sharing responsibility with someone who has a different perspective and opinions can make things easier…or more frustrating or complicated. Ultimately, if you decide to take on a partner, you hope the value they bring to the table will better enable you to reach your objectives. Payoff When I started thinking about starting my own business, I’ll admit I was a bit nervous. I was highly motivated to try, but I wasn’t sure I could make it happen on my own. However, after talking to others who shared my goals and vision, I felt encouraged and knew we could make our dreams a reality. Without these partners, I don’t know if I ever would have taken the plunge and started my business. Sacrifice This rewarding payoff did not come for free, however, as I soon discovered. The longer I worked with my partners, the less aligned we seemed to be. Their dedication didn’t seem to match mine, so I ended up putting in the lion’s share of the effort. I was stressed and frustrated, which created a lot of tension in the business as well. I tried everything I could think of to help rebalance the relationship but after a while I could see that it was time to go our separate ways. We parted on good terms and the business got back on track. Was it Worth it? While dealing with the stresses and pressures of a dysfunctional partnership was hard, I’m still grateful to my partners for giving me the courage to start my business. I honestly don’t think I would have done it without them and would have missed out on the best job I’ve ever had. The fact of the matter is people are unpredictable and taking on a partner may work out the way you want or it may not. Those that don’t last still have something to teach you that you can take with you as you move forward. Those that do make it are certainly worth the effort. #2. Hiring/Firing Even with the best business partners, your business still needs hard working employees. Your staff can make or break your company. Moreover, the right position and timing are important factors to consider when bringing on a new hire. Sacrifice Unmotivated employees can suck an enormous amount of effort and resources from the company. In addition to not completing their own work, they distract those around them. Having had to deal with a few of these under-performing employees, I’ve experienced firsthand just how much time and effort they can consume. Plus, I care about my employees, so it’s disappointing to see them be unsuccessful, especially if you have to fire them. Payoff On the flip side, a productive staff member who pulls their own weight benefits the company in many ways. Not only do they drive more income, they become a positive influence in the work atmosphere by motivating their peers. I’ve had numerous employees who didn’t seem like a great fit at first, but when they pushed I decided to give them a try. Interestingly, they soon became some of the top employees at the company. Why? Their motivation and drive outweighed their lack of experience and sent them on the fast track to success. Is it Worth it? Observing both motivated and unmotivated hires has helped me to pinpoint the things that make employees successful and teach those things to my other employees. It also helps me as I interview to know what kinds of things to look for in potential hires. And, of course, the low performers help me appreciate my high performers so much more. #3. Clientele Any business depends on their customers. Their continued satisfaction and business is what keeps your company going. Unfortunately, the wrong customers can also be a huge drain of time and energy. Sacrifice It’s natural to expect your customers to abide by their contracts and to maintain a truthful and respectful relationship, but some don’t. Many times, the wrong customers have breached their contracts and not paid their bills, wrongfully tried to take us to court and hurt our company. Over time, we’ve learned to identify the wrong potential clients before they sign up, but it’s been a painful and slow process. Payoff However, for every difficult customer we’ve had, we’ve had several customers who maintain a professional and mutually beneficial relationship with our business. Customers like this are priceless. You even grow to care about some on a more personal level and care about helping each other’s businesses succeed. It is these associations that provide me with the motivation to keep working hard not only for the success of my own company, but for theirs as well. Is it Worth it? Working with both types of customers has helped me to better foresee mismatches before they even begin. Then we can cordially part ways without any collateral damage. And, thanks to the bad eggs,I have an even deeper sense of gratitude for the good relationships that make all the hard work worth it. Without the troublesome experiences, I would not understand how lucky I am to have the good ones. #4. Family and Friends While your relationships outside of work may not seem like a part of starting or running a business, without the support of friends and family, it’s impossible to be an effective entrepreneur. Your work life and your personal life are deeply connected—for better or for worse. Sacrifice Most entrepreneurs are highly driven to succeed at work. However, if you aren’t willing to do what it takes to maintain work-life balance, both your work and your home life will suffer. For example, if you stay late at work trying to finish up a project and come home to a rightly frustrated spouse, you might end up have a long and difficult conversation. That conversation can leave you emotionally out of sorts for an important investor meeting the next day. However, if you put your priorities where they belong and take the time to communicate well with people at work and at home, you’ll be more focused and convincing in your meeting. Believe me, I’ve seen firsthand how home problems can affect you at work. To balance your work and home life, you have to be willing to make sacrifices in both. But, if you’re willing to make those sacrifices, things always work out in the long run. Payoff Luckily for me, my family and friends are fantastic. They have hung in there while I have tried to find the right balance in my work and home life. They have helped me to face uncomfortable truths about myself and my life and make the hard decisions. Is it Worth it? While it does take time and effort away from work to develop personal relationships, in the long run I have been a better entrepreneur for it. My family provides me with motivation to work hard. They help me grow and progress as a person and help me to take time off to relax so I can come back to work healthy and refreshed. Conclusion While you might not get your hair yanked at work, starting your own business often feels crazier than holiday shopping on Black Friday. And, just like any Black Friday shopper, I’ve certainly had those moments when I thought, “Is this really worth it?” Despite all the challenges of starting and running my own business, I don’t regret my decision. When things don’t work out the way I want, I still learn something from the experience. And, when things go according to plan, the payoff is so worth it, I feel ready face whatever challenge comes next. What do you think? Has the sacrifice been worth it to you?