How do I stay positive in entrepreneurship?
I've started a few business ventures & my biggest problem is staying positive when things get really difficult. I think if I could overcome this my ventures would go a lot further. How can I stay positive when things start to go wrong?
Being around other people who are positive helps me. It also helps that I have a very understanding wife, two supportive children, and two loving dogs. :-) P.S. I'm on my third entrepreneurial adventure in 10 years; so I have seen the "difficult."
The number one "hack" to coping with bad stuff is to not start by yourself.
There are stats on this, but the bottom line is that if you are having a hard time coping with the stress of the start-up rollercoster, you really aught to have a parter to complement you. If you're downtrodden, get with someone upbeat. If you're sales-y, get a non-tech to help.
Starting a business is already super hard and tough on people. Doing it alone compounds the challenge exponentially. External support is great, but I suspect you've already got some cheerleaders in your corner. If I was a betting man I'd say the problem is that cheerleaders don't always understand the stakes or the nature of the stress, and can rarely offer constructive and actionable feedback.
Get a partner. Trust me.
Most every entrepreneur has moments of fear, doubt and frustration when things don't go as planned -- and they seldom do. Here are a few suggestions which might provide you with an infusion of positive energy to keep pushing ahead even when you feel negatively about your prospects. They have helped me and some of my clients:
1) Build a network of other fledgling entrepreneurs to serve as a source of advice, encouragement and support. This group dynamic eliminates the feeling of isolation and struggling alone with a problem -- one of your contacts might have an answer for you. Don't hesitate to ask advice and to provide advice in return. Always be prepared to provide encouragement;
2) Most start-ups fail because of poor planning, poor management and an inability to optimize the use of limited financial resources. Never stop looking (daily!) for free resources to help your business. Stick closely to you budget and review you income and expenses (inflows and outflows) every day - do you see patterns or trends? Take action to build on the positive trends and avoid or reduce the negative ones;
3) It might be wise to take in a partner with similar business interests so that you can strengthen each other's positive drive, enthusiasm and do a bit of healthy leaning;
4) Have a very brief list of between 5 and 10 things wish you want to accomplish each day. When you've gone through that list and checked off a good number of items (do load the list with excessive traffic and ridiculous or unrealistic detail), you will feel an exhilarating sense of accomplishment;
5) Don't isolate yourself. Do plenty of telephone calling (both business-related and social), and fill your day with conversations, bits of good advice and communion with other soldiers in the entrepreneurial trenches;
6) Get away from your work at least once daily to get some fresh air and to do some exercises. Not only will this make you healthier, and give you a great opportunity to just set your worried mind free, but you'll find that the exercise and accompanying change of scene will make you feel more energized, more creative and more positive.
Douglas E. Castle
If I can be of further assistance, or if you just need someone to talk to to, you can reach me on my website, or through the CONTACT section on my blog. Stay strong, and don't let yourself get trapped in a dungeon of depression. Please give my simple advice a try. It works!
How did your ventures do? Did some succeed? Or did they all "get difficult and go wrong?"
One rule of entrepreneurship is, "Fail till you succeed." Learn from your failures so that your next venture will more likely succeed.
But you make it sound like you're making bad choices, selecting the wrong ventures to get into. If so, perhaps you need more hard-headed advice before you jump into your next venture, so that you choose one that is less likely to go wrong. I have talked many starry-eyed entrepreneurs out of jumping in to things that the numbers showed had little chance of success.
Do you start with a group of people, or as a solopreneur? If you don't have enough people to speak to about what you're doing you're going to loose that positive energy. Of course that's not easy - most employees, friends, family and even your partner - are either not interested, are not suitable or not qualified to bounce ideas off.
The best solution is to join a peer board... meet with other entrepreneurs monthly in a setting that allows you to talk confidentially and learn from others (outside of your own industry). This will also allow you to think strategically - rather than get pulled into the day-to-day details, so will give you perspective. The right group will also make you accountable and will inspire you.
You could start a group yourself, or investigate others that are running locally. Your local chamber of commerce should be able to assist, or you could check out this link - TheAlternativeBoard.com
Surround yourself with people who believe in you and what you are doing (but will also ask questions). Make sure your family is on board and understands that sometimes they will need to be positive for you.
And remember that if you stick it out, you will eventually succeed.
Also have a plan that you work and stick to it no matter what.
The best way to stay positive despite the inevitable vicissitudes of daily life is to evaluate things in the context of why you chose to be an entrepreneur. It’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your dream Fortune-500 mega corporation be. Business is all about taking incremental, yet decisive steps toward advancing your goals. As long as your taking prudent steps toward achieving your vision, you can take rightful solace in the fact that you're not only doing your best, but you're also doing exactly what you love and want to do. If all else fails, think of the Serenity Prayer: "Please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."
Have you thought of finding either a business mentor or a business coach. If you know anyone who is a successful business person whom you trust, why not ask them if they could give you some pointers and would mentor you for a few months. All successful business people have been through tough times in their careers and most would share how they got through these difficult times. If you surround yourself with the right positive influences, they will pull you through as long as you are willing to share your problems and listen to their feedback. Good luck and don't give up.
Before you started your venture you had a goal and vision in mind, through difficult times look back at the reasons that made you start your venture and you will find the motivation you need to keep going. Its not always easy to have positive people around you so finding the strength within yourself is critical to get you through the hard times.
No-one understands your business ventures better than you and only you can get yourself over the slumps and keep going.
Focus on WHY you started and you will find your drive to continue.
Here's what helps me. I am on Linked-In and have joined professional groups in my profession, and I find articles and things to read. I have a couple friends that are also 'treps and I like to share ideas with them too. Lastly what helps me is by finding someone to help, outside of my industry, but not out of my knowledge.
Being around entrepreneurs and helping startups, the ones that succeed and make progress are the ones that are meticulous in their planning and exhaust every single option to help their business grow. They also have a strong network and believe strongly in the "WHY" that John Elcik mentions. They feel that purpose behind their work, and continuing to remember that and do exhausting every option through proper planning is what I've noticed keeps them going.
The fact that you are approaching your network shows you are ready to think outside the box. Some suggested tips:
a - Reading (Balcony People - Google it and buy it - great investment)
b - Find a mentor (affirmator as the book quotes)
c - Who are you associating with?
d - Why would things get really difficult? Is it revenue, risky venturers, high investment of your hard earned cash? Are you seeking advice and cautiously investing and achieving returns?
e - Would you be able to divest in less risky ventures?
f - Is there a possibility to supplement with a FT job?
Merely staying positive when things get difficult would not likely be realistic.
Not knowing what ventures you are involved in makes it difficult to address with a proper solution.
Ask for help. In all honesty, in my experience, that is the biggest downfall of an entrepreneur. Many want to to keep their ventures a secret or not want to share what they are doing and fall flat. If you do not seek the help you need, you will not only become frustrated at your inability to remain positive, but you won't succeed.
I learned that in order to keep going, you need to seek out places like this to know you are not alone when it comes to not being able to remain positive. Open up more and find those who share your passion for what you do. If you don't, it will only build up further and further until you reach a breaking point.
Case Story: Entrepreneur starts a business venture in South Africa with a great model for operation. He wants to keep the success for himself, though he locates key people who will assist him in furthering his venture. What he failed to do was ask for help and identify what his failures were and how to overcome them. In short, people were left out of a job and the business failed. The whole time he is disillusioned that the business was going to work out and he stayed positive, but it was not enough. Case Point: If something is going wrong, ask for help. Being positive can help, but it can also give false hopes if you do not recognize that ups and downs are part of the business. Identify whats going wrong and seek out the help needed.
I surround myself with others that support me and encourage me. I also listen to motivational audio tapes/videos that inspire and uplift me
Plan, Plan, Plan!
for the biz: Always plan for the worst case scenarios so that you will have a 'Plan B' in your pocket when when things go wrong.
On the personal side, develop and network with other entrepreneurs who have been where you are and can help you deal with the emotional ups and downs of starting a new biz. And give you needed and valuable advice or at least get you out of your funk. A phone call. A breakfast, coffee, lunch, or dinner meeting. Whatever communications method works best for you.
For me, I usually set up networking lunch meetings or coffee sessions at least 1-2 per week. It keeps me informed of what is going on in the industry that I may not be aware of. And I get a chance to catch up with old friends, mentors and smart business people.
That and regular exercise keep me emotionally and physically conditioned for those inevitable down days.
Hang in there Rob!
Hi Rob. I am an entrepreneur too, and know the feeling all too well. The way I see it is, none of us wants our business growth chart to look flat-lined. Only when there are dips, can there be unimaginable highs too. And that's why we're in business after all, not working for someone else.
While I'm not particularly religious, here's something inspiring. Focus on the last line.
"And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:10
Finally, soldiers and marines wouldn't have been the best at what they do if the initial selection and training processes were a cakewalk now, would they?
Good luck with your business ventures.! Stay strong.!