"Being an entrepreneur is fun!"
These words were spoken to me -- tongue in cheek -- by a client and friend, who was having a stressful week in her business. She started off one of our phone calls recently by saying that she had been reminding herself that, "Being an entrepreneur is fun." I know the feeling, 100%!
When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you take a leap of faith into a new job that you are so passionate about it hurts. With that kind of passion comes anxiety.
And if you think this whole entrepreneur thing is scary, you aren't alone. I love this passage from a recent Inc. Magazine article likening the "fearless" entrepreneur to the man riding the lion.
"Toby Thomas, CEO of EnSite Solutions (No. 188 on the Inc. 500), explains the phenomenon with his favorite analogy: a man riding a lion. 'People look at him and think, This guy's really got it together! He's brave!' says Thomas. 'And the man riding the lion is thinking, How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?'"
As an entrepreneur, we care so much, sometimes unnecessarily, about every detail. It can be frightening! So how does a budding entrepreneur handle the stress of it all so that we can focus on the successes? Start here...
Never forget who you are and why you started your business. Make sure you have, in writing, a list of the fundamental principles on which you want to run your business and stick to them religiously.
People will get in your way. Other people's energy won’t be in sync with yours. Unexpected problems will surface. Some days, running your own business feels like... lion training. Concentrate on the forward motion of it all, making sure that each step you take is in line with your core values.
Work With Intention
There’s nothing more important than setting intentions. Without them, it’s easy to get caught in the day to day demands of work and lose sight of the big picture. Surround yourself with intention by aligning your office space with visual cues in whatever way works for you, be it a vision board, quotes, or whatever else keeps you focused.
The other day, while working on a particularly challenging project, I wrote my intentions down on the pad next to me, because I genuinely needed an extra reminder of what my intentions were. The paper read, "Be kind and be quiet."
In this specific case, the other vendors on the project were getting tense and I needed to remain calm, be kind, and let them make some decisions for themselves without jumping in to "save" them. As a vendor on just one part of the project, it was essential that I allow the rest of the team to find their way. I also wanted to remind myself to speak to everyone with kindness, no matter how much the lion roared!
More and more, I am witnessing a lack of respect for disconnection. It seems that in business, people’s expectations are shifting to that of constant responsiveness. This is not healthy! The good news is, you own your own business so you can make your own rules. Disconnect!
Make sure that there are times in your day where you disconnect from work. Turn off your phone, if need be. Feel free to disconnect from email -- even during the workday -- if there are moments when you need to be creative or if you find you are at your most productive without interruptions. (I know I am!) It’s OK to turn it all off!
So what if lots of people expect you to be connected 24/7?! Just because everybody else does it, doesn’t make it right. You mastered that life lesson during puberty, right? To be your best, most productive self, you absolutely have to claim time for self-care, family, hobbies, physical activity, and outside interests.
I am an entrepreneur, in part, so that I can lead a rich, adventurous life and that life extends beyond work. Take care of you by...
Embracing healthy daily habits.
Exercising: 20 minutes a day of cardio will save your life; add some strength training if you can.
Write it down!
I often manage a heavy workload with one simple trick: I get things out of my head and onto a piece of paper. This frees my brain to be creative and productive!
And while I do use software for my most essential scheduling needs, and Google docs for many of the things I need to catalog, when it comes to getting something out of my head, nothing matches the pleasure of writing it down on the piece of paper sitting next to me.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a business partner at Oak Street Social. She is the person that I count on when times are truly tough.
You don’t need a business partner, but you do need support. Whether it be a friend, family member, or spouse, you’ve got to have someone you can turn to for help or even just someone who is up-to-date on your situation and can encourage you to try again.
“Entrepreneurs often juggle many roles and face countless setbacks— lost customers, disputes with partners, increased competition, staffing problems—all while struggling to make payroll.” So says this article in Inc. Magazine about the psychological costs of entrepreneurship.
Here’s the thing, being an entrepreneur is tough in many ways. And yet, it’s rewarding in many more ways. If, like me, you have an unending call to create, what choice do you have but to answer it?
The only thing better than the anxiety-ridden fear of failure is, of course, the adrenaline rush of success. You can’t have one without the other. The beast may never be tamed, but the successful entrepreneur does it all for the thrill of the ride.