How to Keep Your Sanity Riding the Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster : Under30CEO How to Keep Your Sanity Riding the Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster : Under30CEO
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How to Keep Your Sanity Riding the Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster

| May 19, 2010 | 6 Comments

entrepreneur sanityLet’s face it- entrepreneurs tend to be a little bit crazy.  Starting a business takes a touch of insanity, but running a business can sometimes send you over the edge. You put everything you have into your business, face challenges you never could have prepared for, & on top of it all, are constantly scrutinized.  How do you stay sane?   After two years of being on the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship, these are the things I’ve found help me manage the dips & stay focused on the loops.

Learn to be Patient: Patience has never been my specialty. I come from a hyper-active, scream-over-each-other-to-be-heard type of family, where if you don’t move quickly you are likely to be left behind.  This life in the fast-lane mentality had propelled me forward in both my education & career so I applied it to my start-up, setting ambitious goals & keeping busy with an endless list of daily tasks. I became increasingly frustrated, however, when my efforts weren’t yielding the immediate results I expected them to.

The past year has taught me a lot about the value of patience.  St. Augustine says it perfectly, “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.”  Eventually, I realized that the same tactics that had always worked for me in highly structured environments weren’t completely applicable to my bootstrapping start-up.  I’ve learned to be happy making progress each day and to celebrate the small hurdles.

Open Your Eyes and Ears: Sometimes I consider the amount of opportunities around me and am blown away.  The crazy thing is that these opportunities have always existed, but I was always moving too fast with tunnel-vision towards my next goal to notice them.  Instead of listening to my environment, I always tried to make my environment listen to me.  Once I opened my eyes to all of the wonderful opportunities out there, any lingering doubts about going out on my own vanished.

Explore other Activities: When you’re passionate about your job, it’s easy to let it consume you.  You may feel perfectly content working on your business all the time, but eventually it will have adverse affects on your life. You risk burning out, isolating yourself from opportunities, and damaging relationships. Don’t feel guilty about spending time doing other things.  Personally, I find running, reading, & movies to be great outlets, and blogging is extremely cathartic. As difficult as it may be, try to dedicate 100% of your attention to these various activities. I’m guilty of working on my computer through movies and bringing my Blackberry on bike rides, but it makes a big difference to truly escape.

Accept the Possibility of Failure: Now I know that some people read this and think, “If you go in with that attitude you are destined for failure.” However, I have found this to be the most liberating lesson of them all.   The first few occasions when things didn’t go exactly as anticipated with my business, I couldn’t help but go into panic mode.  I hated the lack of control being thrown in my face.  I soon realized, though, that entrepreneurship is very much about accepting chaos and learning how to respond.  By accepting I cannot control everything, I have actually re-established control of my own environment.

Hold on to Your Optimism: Easier said than done, right?  People are constantly offering their pessimistic perspectives, and when you are going through a rough patch in your business, it can start to get to you.  Hold onto your glass half full attitude for dear life. Where does pessimism get you?  People pick up on negativity & it can hurt your business.  One thing that always centers me is thinking about how proud I am to have built my own business from the ground up.  I know that no matter what happens, no one can take that accomplishment away from me. If you haven’t launched yet, visualize how great that will feel.

But be Realistic: When I first started my business, I had unrealistic expectations. The overnight success stories are an inspiration to read, but of course they are the exceptions, and many times what seems like an overnight sensation took years of work (one of my favorites to read about is the brand Life is Good).  Plan ways to support yourself- whether it’s getting investors or holding another job.  If you are just considering being an entrepreneur, make sure you are okay with making sacrifices.

I hope my experiences can help you navigate the bumpy (but amazing) ride of entrepreneurship.  Best of luck!

Written by: Tina Paparone is the co-founder & CEO of the unique gift company BeMe, which creates products to inspire girls to embrace their individuality. Find out more about BeMe & Tina’s other projects at www.TinaPaparone.com.

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Category: Startup Advice

  • http://mariedeseuche.com/blog Marie

    I actually testified on my blog how easy it is to get confused at one time.
    This is funny we post the same subject in the same day at the same time but in different country !

  • http://www.ryanhanley.com/about Ryan Hanley

    This is great stuff. I have definitely used blogging to release from my work even though the topic is my industry…

    I don't do well with patience… still learning that one…

    Thanks,

    Ryan H., http://www.RyanHanley.com

  • srinirao

    Tina,

    Patience: This is something I've wrestled with for years. I think it's funny too. As our technology becomes faster, we become more impatient. My broadband internet connection is not fast enough and I forget there was a time when we had dial up and this would have been lightning fast. The success of entrepreneurs is not about on action and one result, it's about multiple actions over the course of time that result in one big result, SUCCESS. It's easy to forget that and being patient is a good reminder.

    Failure: You've probably heard the saying that most successful people are the ones that have failed the most.
    Opening Eyes and Ears: The world is full of opportunities surrounding us, but tunnel vision is something that is much easier to get drawn into than we realize. Sometimes I think that there is tunnel vision in the blogosphere and we forget that there his a whole world outside of this social media bubble that we live in.

    Other Activities: Well you know enough about me by now to know how I feel about that. My best ideas come from time in the ocean, and that's my complete disconnect from everything else in my life.

    Optimism: I think this is an essential trait for any entrepreneur. If you are negative and a downer that's the energy you put out into the world. People think that just because you sitting behind a computer people can't feel your energy. But your words are going to communicate this energy no matter how hard you try to disguise it.

    Being Realistic: I'm with you on this.The overnight success idea is something that I think the early days of internet marketing created with the all the get rich quick schemes. But with blogs, and the open truth coming out, people are realizing more and more that all of this takes time.

    Good stuff :)

  • http://www.Want2BeMe.com/ Tina Paparone

    Thanks! I definitely thought of you with the other activity section- I can imagine sitting out on the ocean is the ultimate way to disconnect.

  • http://www.Want2BeMe.com/ Tina Paparone

    I think patience is a big challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs. I have 2 businesses- BeMe, the girls' gift company, & a regional blog called Bucks Happening. With the blog, an article goes up and we can immediately see the analytics. We're delivering free content & as a result see tangible viewership results. With BeMe, someone could hear about our product and not buy until they have the right occasion 2 years later. Not having that immediate satisfaction was really hard at first but eventually I accepted it and have been much less stressed out ever since.

    Best of luck!

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