Coming up with a business idea is exciting. It is, in fact, something that many dream about because your own business gives you financial freedom, flexibility with time and scheduling, and the opportunity to leave a legacy in the world. Actually starting the business is exhilarating and extremely fulfilling. There is a thrill in knowing that that vision you saw in your head is a living, breathing organism that employs people and offers a product or service that is making a difference.
Lurking in the back of the mind of every entrepreneur is also a fear that you will fail. Watching your business go through tough times and wondering if you made a mistake conjures up a myriad of emotions, including fear, shame, guilt, self-doubt, and discouragement. For some, in order to not further incur loss, it is in the best interest of the owner and the business to close down and the decision to regroup, restructure and re-emerge is one of the hardest to make.
Bouncing back after a loss is challenging at best. Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn't work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach. (Roger Von Oech)
As a woman in business, we have many competing forces: our mate, our children, our family, our friends, our business itself, and any other interests we may have outside of the business. As we in superhero fashion try to juggle it all, we may drop a ball or two. Sometimes it is the business that causes the most strain on all of those factors and we ask ourselves, was this really the right move? Is this truly my dream or a nightmare? Perhaps living a normal life with a regular job would be easier. In some ways it is, but the pain, frustration, and feelings of dissatisfaction are greater than the struggle of keeping the business dream alive.
Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel. Napoleon Hill
So what do you do if your business is struggling and you’re challenged to keep your passion burning bright?
- Go back to the mission and vision statement. Read it and reread it for inspiration and to ensure that you are still in alignment with its principles. Sometimes we stray away from the original purpose and hence, the struggle.
- Analyze what is happening and make necessary adjustments. We have to have the courage and flexibility to change our methods if they are not yielding desired results. We can’t get stuck in an idea if the idea is not working. Discuss your feelings openly and honestly with trusted loved ones, mentor, coach or all of the above. Having a sounding board and different objective perspectives can really help to keep you from getting swallowed up in emotion and making skewed decisions.
- Revisit your customer comments and testimonials to remind yourself how you have helped others. Often when I feel like giving up, I have divine encounters when I run into someone who is glowing about how much they enjoyed a presentation, class, workshop, or episode of my TV show. It helps me to keep the true beneficiaries of what I do in my gaze and not my feelings.
- Find time to get away, regroup, meditate, pray, and maintain focus. This is important. We all need the time away, especially as women who try to do all and be all and hold it all together by ourselves. It is critical that you deal with your ‘stuff’ or your inner life as sometimes our destructive patterns hinder our own success and we self-sabotage, telling ourselves that the self-fulfilling prophecy was bound to happen when it does.
- And if you have to close your doors, don’t think of it as a failure but as a courageous risk taken to go after your dreams. Look at it as a chance to try a new strategy. Sometimes it’s about timing, location, people, or planning. Examine your business idea and more importantly read the stories of those who tried, lost and re-emerged better than before to encourage you to keep pressing on. Our greatest glory of is in never falling, but in rising ever time we fall. ~ Confucius
- The greatest lesson to be learned from trials is that they come to make us better, firstly as a person, then as a business owner and leader. Just like in school, challenges will come, but the only way to graduate to the next dimension of growth and celebration is to pass the tests. In the famous words of Langston Hughes: “hold fast to dreams” because life without them is limited, barren, and bleak; life in pursuit of dreams is limitless, productive, and meaningful.