The ups and downs of being an entrepreneur can take its toll on you. You spend hundreds of hours trying to get noticed, and when you finally start to gain traction in your business, life turns into an episode of Project Runway. One day you are in and the next day you are out. Throughout all the ups and downs, you have to keep your eye on the prize.
Go back and review your initial goals and objectives. Have they changed? Have you added to them? Is the business still your passion? No matter what, things change. As pastor and author Charles Swindoll so eloquently said, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” I always find it interesting to learn how and why people throw in the towel. When I was selling insurance, most of us wanted to quit every other day. Some did. In my mind, there was no room for failure. If you wanted to get something done and you couldn’t do it yourself, find someone that could help. Bring in the big guns, but do not quit.
As an entrepreneur, to be successful, you have to be excited and passionate about what you do;every day. Otherwise, you will have a new title — business owner — and at that point, maybe being in Corporate America was the better choice. Be prepared for the highs and lows in your business. I am not saying you have to be happy and peppy every day, but you need to have a positive outlook more days than not.
With that said, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, how many years of expertise you may have and how much time you gave it, there comes a time when you have to call it a day. While starting a business is hard, closing one is harder. Your ego and pride start to protest. What will people think and say? You might think your latest undertaking was just another failure to add to your list, but that is not the case. The fact is, not all ventures are successful. That does not mean your efforts were in vain. The trick is to time the closure well, so that you can cut your losses, take what you learned, and move forward.
Of course, my goal is to help you avoid that scenario. And the two best ways to ensure that you never have to face the pain of involuntarily shutting down your business are by planning ahead and pushing through. Planning would include the need to plan your budget, your promotional strategy, and your schedule. The more upfront planning you do, the more likely you are to achieve your short and long-term goals, and the less likely you are to be thrown off course as you build your business. But planning is more than just logistical considerations; it includes changing your mindset and putting checks and balances in place to get you back on track when challenges arise.
No matter how much planning you do, hard times will come. That is not only the nature of business, but the nature of the world at large. Economies go up and down. Technology changes the playing field. New competitors come along, who are faster or less expensive. In the big picture, none of those scenarios needs to lead to shutting down your business; instead, you must find ways to adapt and find the strength to keep on keeping’ on.
A book that is a must read for every entrepreneur is Three Feet from Gold by Sharon Lechter and Greg Reid. The title comes from the concept of someone who has been digging in a mineshaft for years and then throws in the towel, when it turns out they were only three feet away from the vein of gold that would have made them a millionaire. The book conveys an important lesson, based on the life of Napoleon Hill: “The most common cause of failure is quitting. Success always follows a similar pattern. First comes a dream, followed by struggle, and then there is victory. The problem is, most people give up in the struggle section and never get to sense what victory feels like.”
I have started over and recreated myself on many occasions. I have been very successful and have the accolades to prove that. But, I have never been as passionate about anything as I am with my company. Rather than digging in a mineshaft, I am working every day to promote my business and build relationships, adjusting goals when needed but staying in the game. That gold truly is just three feet away. Believing in you is the only answer. I have always said and will continue to believe that failure is not an option. When something isn’t working, you may need to give in a bit, but don’t give up.
To help you regain perspective, you should periodically evaluate:
- What do you know that you know?
- What do you know that you do not know?
- What do you think you know?
- What do others know that you do not know?