It happens to every entrepreneur and business owner: that period during which you are overcome by self-doubt, anxiety and uncertainty. You question whether all the hard work and stress is worth it.
One of the realities of business is that success is not defined by how one reacts when things are going well, but by how one reacts when things are going badly.
The world’s greatest business icons have all been through testing moments when they’ve had to dig deep in order to make it though an exceptionally tough time.
Steve Jobs was fired as Apple CEO before being asked to return to lead the company a number of years later; Richard Branson had to sell his original business, Virgin music, to save the Virgin Group; and Robbie Brozin summarised his entrepreneurial journey at Nando’s by saying that “there is a very, very, very fine line between success and failure…it is about being constantly hammered and coming back from the hard times and low moments”.
So what can you do to ensure you have staying power and resolve to push through when the going gets tough?
- Be clear about what it is you want. The clearer you are about your business goals, the more likely you are to rely on those goals to drive you when things are not going your way. During the times when things are going well, when you’re motivated and inspired, take time to consider what it is that you really want to achieve in your business and write it down so you can revisit it when you lose your way.
- Find a mentor. The only person who will truly understand your frustration, doubt and loss of confidence will be someone who has experienced something similar in the past, another business owner or entrepreneur who has been through a similar growth cycle. It is, however, important to actively seek out and nurture such a relationship with another entrepreneur if you want to rely on their support when things don’t go well.
- Talk up. Most entrepreneurs and business owners have a certain amount of pride and ego. It is therefore tempting to bottle things up and pretend things are going well, when in fact they aren’t. It is important in such situations to talk up, share your frustration and avoid allowing all the issues to fester below the surface without ever being verbalised.
- Nurture a support base. Whether it is family or agroup of close friends, it is important to have people who care about you and will give you their support and comfort, no matter how successful your business exploits are.
- Have something else. If your business is all you’ve got, when it lets you down you are more susceptible to pain, depression and irrational behaviour. If you have a single-minded focus on business, you will feel lost and let down when you go through a rough patch. If you have something you’re passionate about outside of business, you will be empowered to maintain a sense of balance and perspective in the tough times. The tough times will arrive, and the better you are prepared for them, the greater the chance you have of making it through to enjoying the good times.