It was an early Friday morning. I was exhausted after a long week of work, from being the CEO to all the way a peon of my self-proclaimed jazzy new startup. I wanted to sleep in a little longer- if only it wasn’t for that terrific new idea that hijacked my dream to wake me up, and make me work on it right away. Excited by the myriad of possibilities, I kissed my weekend goodbye. After all, this is the life I had signed up for. Diving into the topsy-turvy world of entrepreneurship, I was well aware that it would be like being on passion steroids for months on end. Those heavy-duty doses that make the impossible possible. Taking you to a place where the line between work and life is quite misconstrued, the distinction between weekdays and weekend is often blurred.
One of the many joys of running a startup is that you are always on a roller coaster ride of extreme, intense emotions. Initially, it felt a wee bit inconceivable and unfathomable that the week could begin with me feeling as resourceful and accomplished as Tony Robbins, but mid-way into it, I would feel like an utter measly failure. For the longest time, I blamed my hormones for acting up, but then I figured out there’s definitely more to it than that. In a matter of weeks, I had gone from a buzzing office environment, early morning coffee chats, huge team working together, back to back projects and meetings, processes and systems in place, to being pretty much on my own without having anyone to high-five with, bounce off ideas or delegate work to. At times, the silence was deafening. Banking on one of my most favorite strengths that have always come forward to save the day, I tuned into “positivity” with all my heart and soul. Believing in the adage “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going,” I marched into this seemingly chaotic situation with all the belief, faith and confidence life has to offer.
Six months down the road, I’m proud to say that I have exceeded my own expectations. Those who know me are well aware that I set pretty high standards. For all of you who are done with the 9-5 grind, wanting to take that huge leap of faith or those who have mustered the courage to do so already, I want to share with you a few handy tips that have served me extremely well along the way.
1. Know what drives you at a deeper level Self-awareness has been my mantra through and through. Not only because it is at the heart of my new found profession, but also because it helps you know what drives you at your core. Without that knowledge, your passion and energy will run out faster than you had probably imagined. Case in point: people drive me. Deep conversations stimulate me. Making a meaningful impact in their careers and lives is what keeps me going. Fostering creativity in whatever I do is my outlet. Coming back to these crucial factors and designing my work and life around it has been an immense source of gratification. Whenever I’m feeling low, I know that I’m running out of gas on probably one of these. And so, I find a way to fuel up just in time.
2. Find an uplifting daily activity Something that has stuck with me since I left the corporate job is to have an action plan of crafting my life around things I like to do. I did not leave the stressful work environment to be consumed by another hectic life where I do not have much control. From simple things to making sure I work out regularly, keeping my energy flowing, to ensuring that I spend quality time with my daughter- it is these short, worry-free moments of sheer freedom and connection that make my life so worth it.
3. Grab the motivational highs and make the most of them I hear you. There’s no one to celebrate your achievements unless you brag about it endlessly. There’s no one who has worked together with you to acknowledge all the sweat and tears you have put in, for weeks and months now. If you do not find a way to give yourself a pat on the back, no one else will be bothered to do so. Part of being positive and optimistic is to top up those motivational highs that you get during your early days. It might be a new client, more business or it could be something as simple as people referring you and appreciating what you do. Make the most of it and let this positive energy flow back into your plans, taking them from good to great.
4. Outsource non-value added, time consuming tasks Don’t we all just love DIY as entrepreneurs. Even when someone else is offering to help. Even when we can afford it. When the time is right, evaluate what are the non-value added tasks in your business that could be outsourced. Instead of continuing to exercise control across all areas of business, approach it with a savvy business mindset. Your time is billable. If you are spending two hours every day keeping your social media alive, you are doing so at a much higher hourly rate (your fee) that an intern could manage for one-tenth of that amount.
5. Talk to other likeminded entrepreneurs Connecting with people who are on the same journey as you is surely a breath of fresh air. On one hand, you could benefit from some hands-on practical business advice and on the other you’ve found someone who truly understands what you are going through. Don’t shy away from building mutually beneficial relationships, even with people not in your industry or line of work. I’m sure you have learnt the importance of networking by now– it is not a nice to have, it’s a must have.
6. Practice patience After years of solid corporate experience, entrepreneurship will be a challenging journey that might make you question everything you know about, well everything. And that is precisely when you need to be a walking and living example of “patience is a virtue.” You. Will. Get. There. It might not happen overnight, but it will happen if you keep at it with this insatiable hunger for success that you started out with. Even if you fail a few times, know that it will only serve as a stepping-stone to something bigger and better. Does anyone remember what the founders of Twitter, LinkedIn, PayPal failed at before succeeding with these ventures? No. Always remember that, and keep at it with your dream!