It happens to all of us – entrepreneurs, that is.
You know, that day that you wake up seeing no point in continuing upon your entrepreneurial pursuits, regretting every making the leap, and totally dreading all things entrepreneur.
That afternoon where staffing shortages, financing falling through, clients welching on thousands of dollars’ worth of invoices initiate boss man “meltdown”.
That night that leaves you waking up covered in sweat in the middle of the night overwhelmed with the more-likely-than-not possibility of actually losing it all.
We’ve all been there. This sense of defeat or discouragement can creep up and steal the passion behind your purpose without much warning.
Maybe we let ourselves get too tired and overworked.
Maybe we ignored all those self-care suggestions our physicians have been recommending.
Maybe it’s just a not-so-cool slump of economy causing our sales to plateau then run downhill.
Regardless of the initiating force behind our “Founder Funk”, as my entrepreneur colleagues like to refer to it, there are a few ways we can stop the negative spiral and gain a new, more realistic perspective.
Here are 3 strategies I’ve found helpful to dig myself out of the entrepreneur’s “I’m a failure” and “I hate business” funk:
Change of Scenery
“I love it out here,” I exclaimed to my husband over the phone, “It’s so nice to feel the sand beneath my feet and swim every morning – certainly beats the scenery around Kansas City!”
Feeling discouraged after two business projects had flopped, I felt like every hour spent in my office or even at home was a constant reminder of humiliating failure and frustration of no return on endless hours of misguided effort. Relocating – just for a few weeks – to the Sunshine State initiated a huge surge of entrepreneurial inspiration that allowed me to process failure in a way that evolved into greater opportunity.
Sometimes just breaking up the day to day monotony, by relocating yourself or even your office (even if it’s virtual) somewhere fresh and new can make a world of difference for your professional perspective. While taking a cross country trip may be more than your budget allows, try varying up your office location – take an afternoon off to explore a state park or try out a new coffee shop in the neighboring community. Change your scenery and proceed with an attitude of exploration and openness.
Meet Basic Needs
This one’s hard for me…
In 1954, psychologist Abraham Maslow published the book Motivation and Personality, where his described a hierarchy of needs for all of mankind. The primary levels included physiological needs, followed by safety and love. More advanced necessities (only accessible if the primary needs – like physiological – had been met) such as esteem and self-actualization constituted the top of the pyramid. Maslow’s hierarchy emphasizes the importance of ensuring all our physiological needs – food, shelter, etc. – and safety needs – financial security, health and well-being, etc. – are met before we can fulfill the more developed needs such as belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
As an entrepreneur, I’ve repeatedly found myself frustrated with my pursuits only to realize that it wasn’t the business’ fault; instead, I was unable to achieve the belonging, esteem, and self-actualization I expected my company to provide for me when I was either lacking financial security due to big owner investment or I hadn’t been taking care of myself (sleep, eating, exercise) and therefore my basic needs were not being met.
Maslow’s hierarchy isn’t a suggestion – it’s an observed manifestation. If you don’t take care of your body’s needs, you can’t expect a business to make you feel better or healthier – the hierarchy must be followed.
Next time you start feeling overwhelmed with your business and thinking about quitting, ask yourself, “Am I getting enough sleep? When was the last time I exercised? How often do I make poor eating choices?” Sometimes our business frustration – or “funk” – has absolutely nothing to do with our business and everything to do with us.
Recharge Your Battery
Sometimes we just need a rest.
Entrepreneurs are notorious for working till they drop. Even if you aren’t clocking 50 or 60 hours a week at your business, being self-employed presents a type of stress that’s different and more acutely draining than stress commonly associated with traditional employment.
Maybe your company’s has been growing by leaps and bounds.
Maybe you just got out of start-up phase and are simply dog-tired.
Maybe you’ve just looked at one too many Excel sheets to think objectively about anything.
Maybe you just need a break – a rest, and little vacay from all things business and money.
We are not wired to operate at full-throttle, 365 days out of the years.
Think about your car. What if you only drove your car with the accelerator pressed into the floorboards – RPM’s maxed out 100% of the time. What would happen? Your engine would burn up. Even if your car was a high-quality car designed for maintaining high speeds, it can’t handle such performance all the time.
As high performing entrepreneurs, it’s tempting to think that we can move forward at max capacity all the time – but that’s simply not true. Your entrepreneurial funk may simply be your body’s way of telling you that your “engine” is about to burn up and you need to let off the gas – now.
Remember: Your business is nothing without you.
It makes good business sense to take care of yourself – including taking a break when you need it.
So the next time you’re totally white knuckling it and teetering on the verge of a breakdown, consider trying one (or two or three) of the above suggestions before walking away from your entrepreneurial dreams. Try a change of scenery, take care of your body, and take some time off to recharge and watch how your business perspectives change.
As an entrepreneur, I understand that sometimes the most challenging aspect of self-employment can be managing yourself. Don’t let you be the reason your business fails. Take care of yourself!