Looking into the mirror makes you admit that they were right all along. You are crazy! You’ve wondered this about yourself for a while, but now you know it. Only crazy people start businesses right? Who else would leave the security of the 9 to 5 for the uncertainty of entrepreneurship? People like you and me. When you started on this journey, you had hope and a vision to conquer the world. The mirror reveals fresh wounds and old scars from the mistakes made along the way. It’s been a bloodbath of a battle. You’re on the EntreCoaster, the entrepreneur’s emotional roller coaster. It is the ride of a lifetime with a small warning statement that reminded you not to ride if you have health problems. You got on anyway. You’ve never been more excited about actually working until this happened. The venture brought highs, lows, and winding turns that rocked you until you wanted to barf. You’re scared but you dare not get off the ride as it might be the only way to ever experience true freedom. Dramatic? Yes, but oh so true for the seasoned entrepreneur. In today’s post I’ll share perspective on the wild ride of entrepreneurship, what I’ve learned, and how I stay on track.
1. Remember How Far You’ve Come
Last month, I met with a friend who wanted some help with his blog. For about an hour, I poured into him with ideas and suggestions. When he left, I gave him a book about blogging and emailed him my 2 pages of notes. He thanked me and asked if he could pray for me before he left. In his prayer, he thanked God for “how easy this marketing stuff came to me” and how smart I was. I called my wife on my way home and shared with her the prayer to see what she would say. Easy? We both had a good laugh because we KNOW the truth about building a business and entrepreneurship. It is NEVER easy! Looking back, nothing about learning marketing has come easy for me. It took time, patience, and ongoing personal pressure to learn and grow.
Part of staying on track is to simply remember how far you’ve come. You’ll never arrive as an entrepreneur or marketer, but you are getting better every day. In the last six years I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. But we learned from them and moved on. We’ve built something we’re proud of and something that has a future. There will always be mountains to climb. But every once in a while, stop and look back. Taking a few minutes to reflect and see how far you’ve come will keep you motivated to keep going on.
2. Understand the Challenges
Recently I wrote about the importance of having mentors in your life. I mentor some people in marketing and also have mentors myself who help me with other aspects of business. Over the last two years, one of my mentors has brutally kicked my butt on almost every occasion. He’s an old school businessman who does things with pen and paper. In his mid-seventies, his longevity has made him brilliant with numbers and he always says what he thinks without hesitation. Not only is he smart, but he’s also a multimillionaire and the former president of a fortune 100 company. He is by far the smartest business and financial person I’ve known and I’ve grown to respect what he says as gospel.
However, when I first started meeting with him I had resentment because I felt like he treated me like a child. I would leave the meetings angry and complaining about how he didn’t understand how my business worked. As I started on a new journey and business plan in 2012, he told me I was about to learn the truth about the hardship of working a business plan. Little did I know how much he would be right. As I’ve said before, writing a business plan and working it are two different occupations. I underestimated how hard it would be to get things done. The ideas took 10 seconds to think, five minutes to write, but months to complete. My friend knew I was naive. He expected me to have major challenges. He understands what business is. It is work. It is heart wrenching, back breaking, hard work. It is finding solutions and thinking outside of the box.
Many entrepreneurs derail their dreams and run for security when things get tough. I’ve seen it with my students when they’re discouraged. They lose perspective and give up. Yes, you’ll have some hard days. You’ll want to scream, cry, and try some kickboxing on your computer. Expect it! Bank on it! Trying days will come, guaranteed. Every successful entrepreneur starts out with a dream and will face huge challenges along the way. Finishing well means you not only expect adversity but you face it head on. While battling the challenges, you remember that if it were easy, everyone would be rich. You dig deeper for the resolve and find a way to win.
3. Be Relentless
My last bit of advice for entrepreneurs is that you should be relentless with your dreams. Relentlessness means hanging on to the vision like it is the lifeline between you and an 87 story fall. You have to remember WHY you’re doing this. You keep your personal vision in front of you day and night. You don’t listen to critical opinions and keep moving forward in spite of fear and uncertainty. You have a job to do and a destiny to fulfill. You know there will be bumps, winding turns, and you’re not quite sure how you’ll get there, but you can see that place in your mind. You see your family better taken care of financially. You see yourself home on the weekends. You see yourself driving your dream car. Whatever that vision is, hang on to it for dear life.
In my years of being an entrepreneur, I can honestly say I’ve been relentless. This week, I’m meeting a couple of the guys I’ve trained who live in Florida who are RELENTLESS as well. They fought and won. Remember, the entrepreneurial journey isn’t a paved road. At least not while you’re starting out. It does get easier and you’ll get better, but sometimes you’ll have to pioneer new routes to your destination. It means getting out the old machete and whacking through the dense forest. The perspective of failure must change for you to be relentless. There is no trying in entrepreneurship. Come hell, high waters or Satan himself, you don’t give up. Wrong decisions, failure, and mistakes are all part of the equation. You’re not alone. Everyone has troubles and your setbacks must be embraced as lessons along the journey showing you what to do differently