Small business owners often enter their field with high expectations. Unfortunately, reality hits soon after. Here’s how you can enter the business battlefield with confidence…

First, embrace optimism but don’t be blind to the obstacles in your path. You set yourself up for failure when your expectations are set too high. You must expect success. You should expect financial rewards. But you should also expect difficulties. There is a price to pay for success and sacrifices will be made. If you prepare, you won’t get discouraged when the hard times come.

Second, use this time to build and strengthen key relationships. Pre-conflict deployment is about more than just planning and organizing. It’s also about building a support network, a supply line if you will, of strong relationships that can sustain you through the battle you’re about to engage in. If you are married, use this time to get closer to your spouse. He or she can be your biggest supporter or your biggest obstacle. A new business venture can put a strain on even the strongest of marriages, so solidify this relationship above all others.

In addition to strengthening your relationship with your spouse, build strong relationships with friends and mentors who will offer honest and objective advice. Surround yourself with positive and realistic people who can contribute to your success. And, on a very practical note, meet a good banker, insurance broker, lawyer, and accountant. If possible, develop a personal relationship with these professionals. You are likely to stretch these relationships to the limit during the early stages of your business. If these people feel a personal connection to you, they are more likely to give to you when you need them.

Battle plans are drawn. The men and the material are in place. You are about to participate in one of the most incredible, rewarding, difficult and terrifying experiences of your life. You must stop for a moment and take a deep breath. Remember what got you this far. Remember that this will not be easy, but tell yourself that failure is not an option.