By Daniel Wesley, founder of Quote.com.
Since the dawn of time, humans have exhibited a penchant for bucking the status quo. For some reason, our brains are wired to both love and loathe complacency. Those in the latter category tend to become disruptors, known in today’s vernacular as inventors, influencers or entrepreneurs.
Thank goodness they exist; otherwise, we might still be pre-wheel and gnawing on raw meat for our protein kicks. However, joining the ranks of disruptors doesn’t mean a life of pure adventure and excitement—it also means stress. According to a Gallup poll, working for yourself increases stress levels by 3 to 4 percentage points compared with working for someone else. In other words, it’s a caveman-eat-caveman world out there, and founders are wearing neon “club me” signs.
What’s the best way to deal with the reality that doubt and fear constitute the fabric of entrepreneurship? Learn from others on the journey so you can confidently charge through the tough times and make your way to the brighter side.
When You Shouldn’t Start a Business—And Why That’s the Best Time to Do It
It seemed like the worst of times but was, in retrospect, the best of times: I had quit my safe, comfy, and benefits-laden medical job to launch an entrepreneurial venture. Fortunately, my wife was graduating from law school. We felt confident that the timing was perfect for us to take a belated honeymoon and return ready to tackle anything.
We hadn’t even finished the trip before our plans changed. While on vacation, we found out my wife was pregnant with our first child. We were overcome with fear: How could we pay for a growing family now that I was self-employed?
Luckily, our panic was short-lived. We decided to take COBRA coverage through my previous employer. I would drive harder to get my new business on pace. We would pivot as needed to give our family the best possible start. A wave of peace descended amid the chaos, and the clouds moved aside.
That was 10 years ago, and neither my wife nor I would change anything about that period. While some might say I chose a terrible time to become an entrepreneur, we saw a positive outcome because we replaced our apprehension with action.
Assuredly, it can be difficult to get past some of the bigger uncertainties in business. Ironically, though, many fears are self-created. Take unrealistic goal-setting, for instance: Some entrepreneurs focus on buying big houses, fast cars, and vacation homes as soon as possible. But it’s difficult to sustain that type of lifestyle or avoid business ruin when operating from those poor motivations. Being a realist might be tougher, but realists tend to succeed.
Lack of patience—the desire for everything to happen immediately—is another problem startup founders face. Instead of practicing patience and the art of personal sacrifice, some founders become frustrated and throw in the towel too early. What they need is a dose of self-discipline to balance company growth and fluctuating income.
Words to Soothe, Remind and Motivate
Embarking on your first entrepreneurial quest? These three quotes will serve as pick-me-ups when the days seem darkest.
1. “Business leaders cannot be bystanders.” — Howard Schultz
If you’re standing around watching everyone else toiling, get out your shovel and jump in the trenches. You’re the boss, the leader, and the head coach. You’re also the reflection of your business. Everything about your demeanor, from the way you talk to the hours you work, tell those around you whether you’re giving anything less than 110 percent. Work the same hours you expect from your employees, and keep your attitude positive and motivational. Put your best foot forward, and your team will follow.
2. “It’s so important for business leaders to discover what their purpose is. In the days when the business seems overwhelming, or you aren’t certain you can continue, it is your purpose that will compel you to push through.” — Anne F. Beiler
Some days, you’ll face so much stress, you’ll want to run screaming into the street. That’s when you must pull from your heart and push ahead. Use your passion and drive to propel you through difficult times. If you believe you’re doing what you’re meant to do, you’ll work through the struggles and hardships. But it’s important to be honest with yourself, too: You need to differentiate between loving what you do and being too stubborn to pivot.
3. “Never be denied.” — Daniel Wesley
My personal motto has seen me through some of the toughest times I’ve faced as an entrepreneur. Use it to remind yourself that there’s nothing that cannot be done, undone or redone. You fail only when you stop trying, so never give up. Consider taking different paths, recharging for a moment, updating your business plans and keeping an eye out for the answers—they’re out there just waiting for you to find them.
The urge toward entrepreneurship is undoubtedly a primal instinct. Understandably, it comes with primal emotions. Treat them all as part of your personal and professional evolution.
Daniel Wesley is a Florida-based entrepreneur with a degree in nuclear medicine. His work has been featured in Forbes, Mashable, The Huffington Post, Fox Small Business, Entrepreneur, and TIME Magazine. He is currently the chief evangelist at Quote.com, inspiring his team one word at a time. You can find him on LinkedIn.