4 Lesser-Known 'Debts' of Entrepreneurship and How to Pay Them Off
Financial barriers are not the only hurdles you’ll need to overcome in your business; living out your dream has its emotional and social burdens, as well. Along the way, you'll confront a number of these lesser-known “debts” that you'll have to pay, in order to grow, achieve success and sustain your brand.
Despite the existence of these debts -- which aren't just emotional and social, but also physical, creative, spiritual and more -- you'll rarely hear them described as equivalent to financial debt. Yet they are, and here are four you’ll want to pay off as soon as possible, to achieve faster, more sustainable results with your business:
Entrepreneurs have a unique and special commitment to the rigors of their business. Because of our dedication, there is a certain distance we often keep from colleagues, friends and even family. The very things we do just to survive and thrive in business are also the things that would almost certainly give our spouses serious anxiety. So, we keep it to ourselves.
As much as we’d like to be appreciated for the hard work we put in, in order to create an innovative customer experience, we perform work that often goes unnoticed. And as much as we'd like to share the intricate details of our step-by-step systems, others rarely “get it.”
That doesn’t mean we shouldn't share. Please do, and do it often and with enthusiasm; but don’t be surprised if you receive blank stares and disingenuous nods of sympathy. Other people don’t understand, and even if they do, how much do they really want to hear about it?
It’s in those moments that our ambitious, strong and energized drive for success segues into a craving for connection, an internal cry for community. You don't learn about the debt of loneliness in business school or any other program I’ve heard of. But that doesn’t mean loneliness has to weigh you down.
So, deal with it: Search for groups which bring together like-minded individuals. Find professionals who are honing their craft, exchanging knowledge and experience and pursuing stretch goals. More importantly, take the time to invest to create deeper, more meaningful relationships within these groups.
Connect enough to find comfort in sharing your stress, anxiety and loneliness discretely. Allow yourself to be open and vulnerable in these conversations. You’ll quickly realize there are others who understand.
Marketing and promoting are necessities in a successful business. However, times have definitely changed, as the internet has created a global marketplace. Your increased global opportunity has also created global competition, seemingly endless advertising “noise” and an abundance of consumer options. All of this can stall your customers' decision-making and slow down the sales process.
This is why self-promotion and visibility are even more important. Your success comes in sharing your brand story clearly, showcasing yur client progress and displaying the new, unique opportunities you can provide to fulfill their needs. Most importantly, self-promotion is not about you, but about how what you do can be transformational for consumers.
Most great brands start out with a passion to help others, make a difference in the community or fight a cause. A clear, purpose-driven, service-first message of self-promotion never feels wrong. It strategically defines who you are, what you do, why you do it and how you’ve helped others change, grow and succeed. Do this well and you’ll build a sturdy bridge of trust between your brand and your audience.
Managing your mindset is just as important as completing milestones. We’ve all heard hundreds of marketing messages tout how you can build a seven-figure business in 90 days or develop a profitable product in less than a week. Despite these goals being possible, don't get too caught up in how fast you yourself finish things. It’s this mentality that’s killing the productivity and progress of many passionate start-ups.
Yes, it’s easy to think that the way to win is to grind your way to success through sheer effort. We all want to win and win fast. However, if you bull-rush your way to victory, you’ll quickly find your business loaded with overwhelmed, distracted and disengaged employees. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, up to 75 percent of organizations surveyed acknowledged that they had at some point “overwhelmed employees.”
Despite the fact that our modern business culture is obsessed with “keeping up,” you can find comfort and competitive advantage in slowing down. In a study of 343 businesses, those that “slowed down to speed up” said they improved their top and bottom lines, averaging a 40 percent increase in sales and 52 percent higher operating profits over a three-year span.
Taking time to strategically align priorities can increase efficiency, collaboration and customer satisfaction. Find assurance in not plowing through work even while you conquer business objectives.
An exciting part of entrepreneurship is the opportunity it presents to creatively express ourselves, solve tough problems and think up new, exciting ideas. However, many entrepreneurs have the blessing (or the curse) of too many ideas. Never-ending ideas can rapidly consume your mind, leaving you treading water instead of gaining traction in your business.
Your creative intuition can be very rewarding to your long-term success, but if you find yourself off in la-la land more often than you take action, you’ll quickly find yourself failing to meet important deadlines. Learn to reign in your ideas, focus on the most valuable next step and stuff away the other ideas for future use, at the right time.
Design designated times for ideation as well as committing yourself to implementation periods. Dive in, take action and devote the greater part of your time to doing (and failing). You can then evaluate your methods, work on creative problem-solving and spend specific brainstorming meetings on innovative improvements.