When two or more entrepreneurs get together, often the masks come off and people start sharing their real stories.

Sometimes, people share wins because they know the other entrepreneurs will understand what it took, and celebrate with them in a way that someone who hasn’t grown a business can’t.

But, more often, when the masks come off real struggles are shared.

I frequently say that being an entrepreneur is great and terrible. I could sell you on it or caution you against it on any given day. It might even be within the same conversation.

I’ve had some deep conversations with several successful entrepreneurs lately, and I realized the stories of successful exits and going public are fantastic and definitely happen, but they are the rarity.

I think it’s important to share the whole story of what happens as you grow a business. To date, I have never met someone who hasn’t experienced all of these.

The Grind

Showing up day in and day out whether you feel like it or not can be brutal months and years in. Nobody cares if you’re sick or if you didn’t get any sleep. Your clients expect you to show up and work your magic.

Keeping your marketing mojo going is really hard. Creating compelling content and finding new ways to get your message out there can feel overwhelming.

Making yourself follow up again on that proposal the client needed ASAP (and then went dark on you) is maddening.

Trying to power through your to-do list that just keeps getting longer and longer can feel futile.

The Failures

I had a call recently with an author who published a book that his community loved, but alienated the corporate clients who paid him big money to speak. Oops. It takes a lot of time to write, publish, and promote a book, and to feel like you bit the hand that fed you can’t feel good.

And then there are things that worked well for a long time but just ran out of steam. I’ve heard several people say that online courses were very profitable for a few years and now not so much. Some of the bigger players have moved on to other things.

The Cash Flow Crises

If I want to build immediate credibility and rapport with my entrepreneur to employee career transition clients, I just have to float the idea that as an employee, managing cash flow and making payroll will be someone else’s headache. They immediately offer up the times they couldn’t pay themselves or vendors or employees – or all three.

Managing around 90-day receivables from big corporate clients can put enormous stress – or even break – a small business.

The Other Side

Hopefully, if you stay on the path and adjust your course as market conditions change, you will get to the other side where there is some predictability, and maybe even a successful exit. I wish that for you (and for me).

But, if you’re in the throes of struggle, go talk to a few other entrepreneurs and realize that you are definitely not alone. If you take off your mask first, it’s likely you’ll hear some incredible stories.