Starting your own business is hard work and that’s a fact. Some days you will feel you can conquer the world before breakfast, whilst on other days it can feel as if the whole world has forgotten your existence and every task seems pointless.
The problem is that many of us spend too much time comparing ourselves to others; we are constantly judging ourselves against our neighbours, competitors, bosses, or siblings. It’s destructive, de-habilitating and completely counter-productive. It serves no purpose other than to feed our insecurities. It can destroy our dream of building a successful business before you even begin.
This is especially true if you’re just starting your own business. As budding entrepreneurs it is critical to avoid measuring ourselves against those who are way out ahead of us.
When we do compare ourselves with the success stories, it is too easy to forget how they claimed that success: the time it took, the mistakes and setbacks they encountered, as well as the sheer commitment and hard work they put in to get there.
Every iconic successful entrepreneur, artist, actor, musician or writer has questioned themselves on those bleak, dark days when self-doubt, fear and uncertainty has raised its ugly head.
The difference between them and most other people is that they kept on going, they persevered and refused to give up.
As the old saying goes: “It takes ten years to become an overnight success”
We are so eager to get to where they are, or where we think we should be, that we bite off way more than we can chew; we make rash unconsidered decisions, we let our personal lives get out of balance (we neglect our family), our health suffers and, if we are not careful, we become hostages ultimately the victims of someone else’s success story.
For me personally these have often been difficult journeys. The learning curve is constant, the lessons are hard but the sense of achievement and freedom is immeasurable.
So, if you’re thinking about starting your own business or you have already begun the journey and feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster, stop kicking yourself when you’re down!
Here are 8 things to help when things get tough.
Remember, anyone can make the decision to start. Those who succeed are the ones brave enough to continue and who DON’T kick themselves when they’re down.
Never compare your beginning with another’s middle
Easier said than done I know! But when you say it out loud you realise how ridiculous really it is. You have no control over ‘their’ journey, you don’t know what their success involved and more importantly they are already way on down the road.
You are where you are and that’s OK. Accept it with grace and move forward. It takes time to achieve success.
Taking those first steps towards starting your own business can be both exhilarating and paralysing. The list of tasks ahead of you in those early days can be overwhelming; so overwhelming we’re often defeated before we even start.
The mountain seems too big, the cost too high, the skills required too great and the risk too frightening. The bigger the dream the more overwhelming the list of tasks.
Take it one step at a time!
Only compare yourself to yourself
Society today constantly makes us feel inadequate; with our young being force-fed the notion of instant success. Everywhere we turn the media, both social and terrestrial, seem to champion celebrity, instant success and shallow fame.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” – Lao Tzu
Compare yourself to yourself instead. Recognise how much you have achieved already, the obstacles you have already overcome.
Who you are is already enough.
Celebrate don’t denigrate
Don’t begrudge others their success. The chances are they have worked hard for it, and they deserve it. Don’t be small minded and resentful; be open and inclusive and remember: just because someone is successful does not mean you’re not!
Embrace the lows
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
The author Haruki Murakami explains it like this: “Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
Many of us seem to relish dwelling on the negative, we waste time, energy and sleep thinking about everything that could go wrong or even will go wrong. Even in the worst situation remember most things are just a matter of perspective! Change your perspective and things often look very different. A problem can be just a solution misunderstood.
Sometimes when the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, watering the grass on your side does the trick.
Embrace the lows and recognise them for what they are, learn from them, treat them as a gift and not a punishment. Everything is figureoutable (if that’s actually a word).
Remember there are always more opportunities
See difficulties as opportunities and challenges as a gift. Remember that opportunities present themselves in many different forms. History is full of people who succeed against all the odds. So whether you are 16 or 66, you have a lifetime to succeed.
Whether you’re a university graduate, just been made redundant, just retired or you’re an overworked mother with a mortgage and can’t remember the last time you had any time to yourself, you can do it if you want to.
“When the going gets tough
The tough get going,
When the going gets tough, the tough get ready
I’m gonna put this dream in motion
Never let nothing stand in my way
When the going gets tough
The tough get going…” – Billy Ocean
Be kind to yourself
You can’t expect yourself to know everything on day 1.
When the going gets tough we all have self-doubts and our confidence is put to the test. There is a wonderful quote by Mufasa, in the Disney movie The Lion King that goes:
“Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become”
We are much stronger, tougher and more resilient than we give ourselves credit for.
Give yourself credit for the small wins. And why not?