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It's tougher than I thought...

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Ever had that sinking feeling? The one where you are really regretting a decision you’ve taken? When you wish you’d left that idea as an idea, and not actually tried to put it into action? You’re not alone...

In this chapter in the story of the launch of a new business, having looked at the background, the role of business planning, the feeling of going it alone, and the art of negotiation, we now move on to a really tough bit in the journey - when the excitement and enthusiasm can become outweighed by fear, uncertainty, tiredness and nervousness.

In case you need to catch up, earlier chapters in this real story of a business start-up can be found here:

  • introduction to the new business start-up
  • business planning

small business start-up

business planning

  • going it alone
  • negotiation

doing it yourself or buying in expertise

get what you want

This business was founded out of excitement. An opportunity had been spotted by our entrepreneur, who had never thought of herself as an entrepreneur before, and the first few days and weeks, although incredibly hard work, were characterised by enthusiasm, excitement and passion. This was a dream come true; the realisation of an idea that had been nagging away at the back of her mind for a few years, and that was suddenly being brought to life. All was good...

And yet, as opening day, the ‘immovable’ deadline that had been created in the planning phase, approached, so did doubts. Fuelled by tiredness, the build-up of things that had not gone exactly as planned, and a deeper knowledge of just how much was unknown, worries appeared. The deadline looked less like the light at the end of the tunnel; more like the headlight of the approaching train.

In very varied circumstances, I’d suggest that most of us who’ve tried something very new and very challenging have felt like this. Being involved in this business start-up and coaching the entrepreneur through it, there were a number of lessons applicable much more broadly that I observed - and I’m certain you have many more yourselves.

Lesson 1: See the wood despite the trees

It’s all too easy to crash into things if you look too hard at them. Problems, issues, obstacles - if you focus on them exclusively, they will get bigger, stronger, more powerful. Instead, try to focus on the path around them. This is some of my own medicine I’ve had to learn to take - see this article for more.

Lesson 2: Stamp on molehills

Making mountains out of molehills is something we can all be guilty of from time to time, and it’s simply not helpful. There are enough real mountains to climb out there without us getting other things out of perspective. Make sure you’re seeing things in their proper context - see this article for more.

Lesson 3: Lie back and look at the sky

Sometimes, you need to take a deep breath, literally as well as metaphorically. In spite of (because of?) the pressure you’re under, the looming deadlines and the amount of work that needs to be done, allocate a few immovable time slots in which you will genuinely do nothing, and some where you will genuinely do anything other than think about or work on your project.

Lesson 4: Re-dream the dream

Once, not so long ago, you had a dream, and that dream excited you and motivated you enough to make you start on an extraordinary journey. It was amazing...and it still is! Don’t allow yourself to lose the wonderful feelings that went with the moments you first had the dream; you thought about bringing it to life; and you took the very first step. See this article for more help in this area.

These things can be useful for anyone, at any type of tricky time. But, by their very nature, tricky times can make it hard to implement them. A few hints that might help:

  • Expect it to happen - so it won’t catch you by surprise
  • Use other people - let them know it will happen, and ask for help
  • Accept it as part of the normal process - it means you’re getting there!

Any other hints out there, or experiences you want to share and help others with?

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