I grossly underestimated and romanticized what it would take to start my own business.
I am now in active recovery and am seriously considering starting my own 12-step program for entrepreneurs. 😉
I am gripped by fear often. I feel the pressure that comes along with being responsible for and to other people, especially the ones that believe in me and my vision for this new business venture. I fear disappointing the people that believe in me. I fear doing all of this work and making huge sacrifices relationally, financially, and physically to turn around and have it fail.
And yet, I am trying to push through my fear. I have adopted an almost “see if you can break me” attitude because the one reason to actually push forward is more compelling than all of the reasons not to: because this need to realize my vision just won’t leave me alone.
In venturing out to start this new business I tried to anticipate all of the things that would be challenging…things like convincing people to give me lots of money for my business idea (building a case for yourself and documenting everything you have done from the time you were a fetus until now is an exhausting process!).
I spent a lot of time trying to prepare myself. I tried to anticipate how creating my brand and vision might be challenging. I tried to envision how managing website and marketing might slow me down…anything and everything I could think of. But none of those things was overly challenging….the hard stuff wasn’t what I anticipated would be hard at all.
The hard stuff, for me, was the mentally exhausting and emotionally draining stuff. And even as I type this I know that nothing, in and of itself, is emotionally draining; it only becomes draining when I assign emotion to it. And yet, I assigned emotion to almost everything. I would take things personally when they weren’t personal at all. I would see the hurdles in getting people to fund my business as non-belief in me and as a personal attack on my character. I would focus on my potential competition and feel anxiety instead of seeing the bigness of my own vision. I would even allow the voices of the one or two nay-sayers to carry so much weight they would drown out the voices of the dozens of people who were cheering me on.
About every 2 weeks or so, the constant output of emotion and mental energy on the wrong things would become too much and I would have hours or days of feeling completely overwhelmed and depleted. I would altogether lose site of my inner drive because I was drowning in the ‘overwhelmed’ and when you are that overwhelmed, words often get lost.
After a couple of months of this cycle and numerous conversations with my mentor- a very successful, experienced businessman and friend whom I trust and respect deeply, he texted me something one afternoon that completely wrecked me. He said: “Cate, I am watching you navigate this entrepreneur thing and I know you have it in you to kill it (his language for success) but I am genuinely concerned that you are spending your emotional energy on useless things and that when it really matters-you won’t have anything left”.
Deep down I knew my mentor’s worry was legitimate. I knew that if I couldn’t manage my emotions and discern where they would best be spent, I would be the author of my own failure. He mentor taught me that.
He has taught me that you can outsource just about anything. You can outsource marketing, strategic planning, loan applications, or someone to manage a challenging contractor. You can even outsource someone to help create your brand and vision if you can articulate what it is you want to create. But what you can never outsource is you – and only you know the intricacies of your vision. Only you can make the decisions that will ultimately actualize that vision…and if you are tapped emotionally and mentally, you have threatened all of that. You have undermined your capacity to perform at your most compelling level. That’s exactly what I was doing, until I was told to stop doing it because someone cared enough to tell me the truth.
My success matters to my mentor almost as much as it matters to me. Go find yourself that kind of mentor and save yourself the unreasonable fee I will be charging for my new, 12-step program.