Starting your own business can be a daunting task. During this Winter break, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the journey to entrepreneurship. You have a dream or an idea and there are so many things to consider on the way to making it a reality. The sweat equity part is important: putting in the hard work, learning to make smart decisions, listening to people who have your best interest at heart, and having the faith and confidence that your idea is a good one. The one part that is also important but often neglected is the emotional toll this endeavor can have on you. You must develop the mindset of an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey. It is defined as a “person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so”. Note the singular “person” referred to in the definition. Starting a business is a solitary endeavor and as such can be emotionally taxing. Entrepreneurs are all too familiar with the phrase “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown", from Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part 2. We are preoccupied with ensuring the success of our company. We lose sleep, neglect family and friends, and ignore our health. All these actions work to create self-doubt that sometimes creeps in into our minds during the dark of night as we lay in bed awake…again…thinking about our company.
The emotional toll can result in self-doubt. Do we have a good idea? Would anyone really buy what we’re selling? Where am I going to get funding for it? More questions than answers preoccupy our minds. We look to friends and family to help, but if they are not entrepreneurs, they can only be helpful to a point. Only another entrepreneur would really understand and appreciate our journey. They would understand how important it is to support one another in very meaningful ways. They would know, almost without asking, how to help. Whether that be boosting your post, or taking photos of you during a presentation, they know…they’ve been there. They know what we need, especially when we are just starting out. Another entrepreneur would understand. Learn from them what the entrepreneur mindset is so that you can develop it yourself.
We don’t reach out because we are usually the only one of our friends who is venturing out to create something new. We feel alone because we are. Our entrepreneurial journey is a lonely one because it just is. What we want to share with the world is ours alone. It came from us, from our experiences, our understandings, and the meaning making process we engaged in to bring this idea to life. This process began in relationship with others but requires a solitary approach to bring it to reality. There is no way around it. You are alone, and that is normal and okay.
Once you understand the inherent condition of being an entrepreneur, you can set in place things and people to help develop the entrepreneur mindset. Be ready to tell people how they can help you. Once you do, most people are willing to help how they can, when they can, in whatever way they can. For example, you may not be eating so well because of your focus on your business. Well, take your friend up on their offer to have you over for dinner. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you invited yourself over…they are your friend after all. Not only would you get a good meal out of it, but you can reinforce the connections we humans need to thrive. If you really need money to carry you through, ask! Most of your friends and family can give you a few bucks to help. No friend wants to see another friend suffer. If you need help with a business plan, seek out free resources through your local office of the Small Business Administration. They offer free mentoring and workshops to help you get started. Even the local library sometimes has workshops to help you get started on a business venture. You do not have to go it alone. There is, of course, the internet. Both Facebook and LinkedIn have groups for just about every interest. Find one that fits your need. If there isn’t one, start one. You’ll be surprised who shows up to be in community with you.
The entrepreneur mindset is one of endurance, strength, and patience. We will be challenged once we are on the entrepreneurial journey. During this journey our mentality and habits will come into play. It is a new experience that will require a new outlook and approach. If you are considering becoming an entrepreneur, think about your mental and emotional health and just know that you will be pushed to your limits. Understand that there are resources available to help. You can do it, you will learn a lot along the way, and it will all be worth it.
This article is part of a newsletter published weekly called The Gigster 'Zine. It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at colegasgroup.com.