You're Doing Great!
Being a business or firm owner can be a hard slog. Most of us do a great job at keeping up appearances and from the outside things might look like smooth sailing but for those of us that have taken the leap into entrepreneurship, we understand all too well how difficult it can be.
This week we wanted to write a few words about this journey and make the point that no matter how hard things get or how hard you are being on yourself, remember that you are doing great in the bigger picture. The reality is when you are in business, especially for solo practitioners or business owners the pressure can build up and the reality is the buck stops with you.
We also see plenty of firm and business owners who are frankly being too tough on themselves. Lawyers in particular can be very hard on themselves and set their standards incredibly high. But the reality in business is there is much that it outside of your control and it’s really important you remember this and give yourself a break. The truth is that you are probably doing great so don’t forget that.
So what are some of the stress and pressure points that can get to people running their own business and how you can cut yourself some slack if you are getting caught up in negativity or the pressure gets too much.
Why it can be lonely in business.
The main factor that can make business feel like a lonely endeavour is of course the feeling that everything is being carried on your shoulders. Or at least that can be the feeling all too often. When things are going well you also get all the credit but especially when you are starting out there can be long stretches where it seems the daily struggle is all on your shoulders.
This is a big reason you need to get connected. You need to set yourself up with a support network of some sort but most importantly don’t be afraid to use it. Asking for help is not a sign of failure and in business it’s important to be proactive on this point. Tapping into communities and your network regularly is key to painting a good perspective on things. Ask for help and advice, this is key. Collaborate and share your experience as apart from anything else it’s helpful to get some of these things off your chest. It’s also very useful to share your experiences including the difficult ones to get some perspective.
It’s hard to find people you trust.
It can also be hard to find people that you trust to rely on around key decision making. Good advice can be hard to find so the sooner you get to building lasting, trust based referral networks and relationships the easier this will be to manage. The key is to be proactive about and seek out people that share your values and outlook and with whom you might be able to exchange value and advice with.
The key is to find a handful of people you can trust and rely on for advice. It helps if they understand your business and the pressure points. Asking your mum for advice may not be the best way to go as she probably won’t understand the intricacies of your business. Start with your network and industry and build a network of trusted advisors and people you can bounce ideas off confidentially.
Being the main breadwinner can add to the stress.
Many business owners get the pang of guilt around trying to run and grow the business of their dreams especially when they have family to support. Riding the entrepreneurial wave and dealing with all the ups and downs can be difficult and impact on your family directly especially if you haven’t developed the coping skills that you will need to make it work.
It can be really hard not to bring your stress home which is why its so important that you talk about these issues as openly as you can. If your friends and family don’t understand where you are coming from it will be difficult for them to empathise or help. So swallow your pride when things are bad and seek some help or guidance.
Some strategies to consider to cope with the ups and downs of business might include:
Coaches and Mentors
Coaches and mentors can be a great way to tackle the problem. If you can find someone in your industry who understands your business, the pressure involved and can help you think differently about things as well as offering some practical advice around techniques that can help you manage things.
A good coach will cost money as they are in demand but it’s money well spent if you can spare it as a good coach will systematically review your current predicament and help you formulate strategies to deal with all manner of personal and business issues. You need to like and respect your coach and have a trusting working relationship to make it work.
Finding a good mentor is another option but can be more difficult to do given people’s limitations around time and also the fact that mentorship is less of a formal relationship which means that you might not get the consistency you need compared to a coach. A good mentor can be a hugely useful resource and help you keep a good perspective on things also.
Staying Active and Engaged Outside of Work
This is hugely important in terms of staying balanced and putting your business efforts into a broader perspective. All too often in our businesses we can get caught up and drowned in it. It becomes all encompassing to the point where you let your outside interests and relationships suffer. This is never a good thing.
We have found that it’s absolutely essential for you to keep nurturing your relationships and outside interests. Getting too caught up in your business bubble can have harmful effects from a mental health perspective especially if you add stress to the equation so remember to take the time to stay involved in life and love and all the other things that make life worthwhile.
Have Something for Yourself Outside of Work and Home
We all need some space for ourselves to cultivate the things we enjoy most in life and that bring us the most satisfaction. Unfortunately though for many people in business things can get hectic to the point where everything else seems to take a back seat. Does it have to be this way or have you just convinced and gutted yourself into thinking that? The reality is no matter how busy or stressful things get you should never allow your “other” life to fall by the wayside. Otherwise what’s the point of all the hard work and sacrifice if you can’t enjoy the things you most want to spend time on. Whether it’s quality time with your loved ones or friends or just keeping up with hobbies or things you enjoy doing. You need to make it a rule that no matter how crazy things get you will always allocate x amount of time for something that is yours and yours alone. It’s just another way to make sure you maintain balance.
Reading & Self Reflection
One of the things that can happen when you step into business for the first time it can be hard to discover your new identity. As an employee you may have known who you were and what you stood for as it was told to you by the organisation you work for. So finding your new identity as a firm or business owner can be a challenge and it can also be hard to find a framework that works for you.
A good way to get this process moving is to spend time reflecting on your goals and reading. Reading, reading and reading are the top three ways to get the knowledge and confidence you need to make headway in your business.
There will no doubt be many areas you need to skill up on so use this as an opportunity to learn some new ideas and strategies and take your knowledge in new directions. Apart from anything else this is fun and mind-expanding. You will also be on the hunt for ideas about how to grow your business so why not kill two birds with one stone and use this as an opportunity to learn some new ideas and perspectives on how you might do things better.
Try to not get caught up in negative thoughts and remember that in the overall scheme of things you are doing great and on your way to something bigger and better than you can imagine. But it doesn’t happen overnight and in business the reality is you need stamina. So celebrate the every small win, don’t get too down about the losses and give yourself a break.