Obviously I knew going into full-time entrepreneurship would be a challenge, that it would be hard and stressful. My new reality is rolling out of bed brewing coffee and immediately sitting down at the computer. Then working all day until I hit a mental block only to look around and realize it's 12 hours later. Then, exhausted I take the iPad to bed and fall asleep while catching up on social media. I was prepared to be stressed about income, I was prepared to question myself and my decisions, I was prepared to make the extreme sacrifices needed to push the business. I was never naive about this being an easy journey. After all, if it was easy everyone would be a successful business owner.... Right?? However, I was surprised by the mental challenges and the mental strength needed to push forward everyday with the same conviction. Really, failing to work on yourself is planning to fail in your business.
Truth #1: You will feel like you are isolated on (what I like to call it) "The Island of Insanity"
Being an entrepreneur, especially one in which you can run your business 100% online can (and WILL) be isolating. We tend to lock ourselves in the house and work for hours and hours on the computer with no human interaction. The drive and determination that you cultivate allows you to go for days without actually noticing you haven't seen another human in all that time. The only thing that causes you to return to the human population is that you ran out of caffeine. While I hope that your friends and family are understanding of your sudden disappearance, it will be an adjustment for both you and them.
Tip: Find other entrepreneurs and build a kind of support group. I met a neighbor who is a videographer and he stays up late editing. Its helpful just knowing I'm not the only one up working late in this form of masochism. Although, we are in different fields we can relate as solopreneurs. Keep in mind you are not alone and schedule time to step away from the computer and spend time with friends or family. Even try working from a coffee shop once a week!
Truth #2: You don't even know what flexibility is yet! - Even though I am a very structured person I thought I would easily be flexible when it came to my business. FALSE! During the startup phase you are in grind mode and your schedule can easily get out of your control. Client meetings, pitch meetings, phone calls, networking events and your ever growing to-do list. It will be a huge adjustment to be able to go with the flow and become flexible with your ever changing schedule. Flexibility is a huge adjustment no matter how flexible you think you are, continue to work on this. It will only become an asset to you as your business grows.
Tip: Make a weekly list of items that need to be completed to ensure your business moves forward and your goals are reached even when you have pop-up meetings and last minute schedule changes. Also, (this may be obvious) but always have your laptop or iPad with you so that you can work on the go. You can get work accomplished in between meetings for example.
Truth #3: Some days the doubt will take over - Most days I am at the computer by 7am, work all day, get some reading done, catch up on my industry news, attempt meditation (not really good at it.... work in progress), networking events twice a week. But some days I look at my bank account and wonder if I am making the right decision. It's hard to work with that same conviction while you are building your business. Thats exactly what you are doing building. You may not (and most likely WONT) be generating much money, you will get a ton of "no's" and ton's of resistance.
Tip: Remember why you started and take it one day at a time. Cliche, I know, but consistency is the key to success in your business. (Maybe its not necessarily cliche if its the truth!). When you are having your moments of self doubt remind yourself what your goal is and look back on the progress you have made. You are doing this for a reason, you cannot let negative self talk derail your success.
Truth #5: You will want to do a million different things - From the beginning you will see all the things you eventually want for your business; marketing, growth opportunities, branding, different departments.... the list can go on forever! Between the freedom of owing your own business and your ambition it can easily spiral to the realm of crazy town. Trust me, I've been there several times! You can easily spend a whole day planning what you want your website and logo to look like even though you cannot afford a graphic designer and have a perfectly professional website. Without someone to hold you accountable to your goals and business plan you can easily become side tracked.
Tip: Make a list of your long term goals and short term goals. Once you come across something that is a future aspiration put it on the long term goal list and table it. Remember the short term goals and the tasks that you need to do now to accomplish your short term goals! It may also help to have an accountability partner. This can be a fellow entrepreneur, you both can talk to about what your goals are and who keep each other's head in the game.
Even though I have had (and still have) these struggles I feel so self aware and I know that every challenge I come across is making me a better person as a whole. I am still so excited that these are now my challenges and I feel stronger everyday when I face them. The things I am actively doing to
My current coping mechanisms are; my local support group of entrepreneurs, financial accountability meetings with one of my close friends, daily meditation, reading 1 inspirational book per month, daily gratitudes and constant cheerleading from my biggest fan (my dad!)
Hope this helped, whether you are starting a business or facing a new point in your life. What are your coping mechanisms. Let me know in the comments!