Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster. Initial excitement about your product can be tempered by lack of validation of your idea. Getting your first paying client followed by a long period where business doesn’t materialize. Naysayers, unexpected obstacles, the list goes on. In my experience, there are a few that seem to repeat, and they can derail even the most seasoned entrepreneur if she’s not self-aware.
1. Shiny New Object Syndrome: Remember when you were a little kid and you saw a commercial for the latest bicycle or toy? Your eyes lit up, you sense of excitement was palpable and you just absolutely had to have it right then. You probably had to wait until your birthday or until Grandma and Grandpa snuck it in when your parents weren’t looking. Of course, as an adult, you can buy whatever you want when you want. When you see something that looks like it will up your A-game, it seems like a no-brainer to take out your corporate credit card.
When I started my last business, I was watching every penny. I was adamant about not hiring an outsider to do any of the marketing. I was convinced I could learn it myself. Armed with my “technical background” I perused the internet rabbit hole until I found the one course that would teach me SEO and then the “guaranteed best way to earn money on Facebook.” I also had to take an email course if I was going to be any good at sending out my newsletter.
SEO turned out to be way beyond a few keywords. That Facebook course (which btw I bought from someone who had more than 350k members in her group) was so crude, I could’ve created it. She actually had modules with segments of mistakes that weren’t edited out. And the email course, suffice it to say I receive regular emails reminding that I haven’t taken the course yet.
Lesson learned: figure out what you need and whether you’re actually the right person to do the work. I spent more time chasing shiny new objects in my first year than chasing new clients.
2. Fear of failure: It would seem logical that if you are brave enough to start your own business, you’re not afraid of failure. Unfortunately, we are not always logical beings. The world around us is constantly giving us messages that it’s super hard to succeed and the percentage of business that fail within the first few years is close to 90%. What do you do when that fear rears its ugly head?
Cut it off at the pass! Instead of wallowing in fear, I stop and list all my past successes. I also look around at others who have succeeded – some that I would never of thought had it in them and I know if she could do it, so can I!
3. Imposter syndrome: Women are famous for this one! How did I get here? I know someone’s going to tap me on the shoulder and tell me that I don’t belong or don’t deserve to be here. Entrepreneurship is for smart, talented, strong women, not women like me!
A couple of years ago I heard Valerie Jaret speak. She was recounting a story that she heard from Christine Lagarde, current president of the European Central bank and former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (among other major accomplishments). Apparently, Ms. Lagarde was backstage at an event with Angela Merkel (yes, the Chancellor of Germany) and the two of them were discussing how they had Imposter Syndrome. That one always keeps me going.
4. Decision fatigue: I never realized how many decisions I would have to make as a business owner. How much should I spend? Where should I spend it? How should I go to market with my product? How will I grow my company? What products should I offer? How should I price them? Should I hire someone to help me? Should I partner with someone else? These are some of the high-level decisions. Now add the day to day running of the business and it’s no wonder entrepreneurs are constantly exhausted. Your brain is constantly on overdrive. When you have too many decisions to make, eventually, you stop making good decisions altogether.
The best way I’ve found the mitigate this is to create a group of trusted advisors that you meet with regularly. If you’re lucky enough to find a mentor, that’s the most helpful. Rather than continuously make decision after decision, prioritize and spend time discussing the ones that can wait. Having a group to bounce ideas off of also helps alleviate the last ‘syndrome’ of entrepreneurs that I’m writing about: Loneliness.
5. Loneliness: The wonderful thing about being an Entrepreneur is that you have no one to answer to you but yourself. One of the hardest things about entrepreneurship is that you have no one to answer to but yourself! It’s lonely at the top.
While you want to be the chief strategist and guide your company to success, in the beginning it’s really important that you have someone or a group of people that you can check in with regularly. Not only will it help you feel less lonely, getting the benefit of someone’s opinion from the outside really helps you get clear on what you’re doing by having to restate the challenges you’re facing. It also gives you a different perspective that’s always helpful when you’re in create mode.
Now that you’re aware of these potential entrepreneurial afflictions, it’s time to start paying attention so you don’t get them!
Need some help with curing yourself? Are you an overwhelmed entrepreneur? Schedule a free discovery call with me to discuss how I can help you get back to the business you love!