Success isn’t linear. It goes up and down, and yet it’s not something we openly talk about. We talk about the successes, talk about the quest, talk about the exciting journey, but it comes with lows and highs no one seems to really be wanting to talk about the setbacks or failures.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing award-winning business coach and consultant Susanne Grant.
Susanne Grant supports busy CEOs, Entrepreneurs, and Conscious Leaders to redefine success and implement a personalized strategy, so they have the impact they desire without sacrificing their health, relationships, or themselves. Her work has been featured in Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, Billion Success, Yeukai Business Show, Awarepreneur Podcast, and many more. In fact, thousands of people have benefited from her work who are now living life on their terms as they implement the Grant Method and Susanne’s motto: “Work Smarter, Not Harder”.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
After I gave birth to my daughter in 2015, I realized the collective lie “hard work equals success” wasn’t working for me any longer. I did not want my children growing up thinking this was normal or the only way to be successful for that matter. I decided to start my business supporting other women during pregnancy, birth and early motherhood and become the change I wanted to see in this world. Over the years, my coaching focused more on families and creating a work-life balance that actually works for clients.
What drives me is the number of fellow entrepreneurs suffering from mental health, not to forget the shocking numbers the “me too movement” revealed to us for example. As a survivor of (sexual) abuse myself, I cannot stress enough how important it is to STOP these patterns in our generation, so our children and grandchildren do not have to deal with the deep-rooted “stuff” that is passed down to us generation by generation. That is why I am so passionate about supporting these busy CEOs and entrepreneurs to create a new definition of success that serves them, their business, and their families in the best way possible. Success can come without sacrifice and it is about time we embrace this new philosophy.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My big aha moment came a year after the birth of my daughter and I realized that having it all shouldn’t come at the expense of the things and people that matter the most to you. I gave myself permission to break free of the old way of doing business and created a new business model — where holistic health and wealth are an integral part of the business because that is what I truly desired. A business that would support my vision, my dreams, my wellbeing, and my young family! So that’s how I ended up running my current company and focusing on changing these generational patterns and belief systems around working hard, success, and creating a rich and fulfilling life on your terms.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I don’t think I was a born entrepreneur, to be honest. However, I am thoroughly enjoying being my own boss and the freedom it gives me. I think the biggest reason for me to start my business was that I felt I had an important message to share with this world and the skills to share it. That’s why I decided to start my business six years ago.
Running my own company really gives me the freedom to be creative and express myself in a way that is important to me. Hindsight? I am not surprised I am now an entrepreneur, but it was definitely not the dream growing up. I wanted to be a teacher and writer actually! Something I now both do. So no I wasn’t a natural-born entrepreneur but it definitely suits me very well!
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
I’ve always been passionate about raising awareness around mental health due to my own traumatic upbringing and creating equal rights and opportunities for women. I was determined to break these harmful patterns myself but noticed a huge gap after I started my journey as a young mother in a foreign country, as I am originally from The Netherlands and now live in Scotland. As I didn’t want to have another generation dealing with these consequences, I decided to start my business to lead the way for my own children.
As I work mostly with female entrepreneurs who have young families, we really focus on creating healthy and strong patterns that will serve not only the business and the client but also the children. I’ve discovered that many of my clients want to work and want to spend time with their young children — because they grow up so fast don’t they — but the how is often the tricky part.
Although my work evolved over the years into helping business owners to create the perfect work-life balance, the core of my message hasn’t changed. I believe EVERYONE is worthy, no matter where they come from. Becoming a parent myself made me extremely aware of the unhealthy patterns that run in my own family as well as our society. As I moved to a different country on top of that cultural differences made these even clearer. All of this combined inspired me to start my journey with my business.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Did you know research shows that over 49% of entrepreneurs have one or more mental health conditions? Whereas suicide remains the most common cause of death for men aged 20–49 in the UK for example? Yet no one seems to be talking about entrepreneurship and the correlation between mental health and long-term sustainable growth for businesses! Not to mention the effect this has on families and relationships.
Like I said prior, what drives me is the number of fellow entrepreneurs suffering from mental health, not to forget the shocking numbers the “me too” movement revealed to us or Black Lives Matter. As a survivor of (sexual) abuse myself, I cannot stress enough how important it is to STOP these patterns in our generation, so our children and grandchildren do not have to deal with the deep-rooted “stuff” that is passed down to us generation by generation.
What makes my company stand out is that we tackle these unhealthy patterns head-on. Through a powerful mix of mindset, energy-work, and the implementation of clever systems, structures, and support, we change the way we define ourselves and the success + impact we are after.
My aim is to create a ripple effect all around the world by redefining success where (mental and physical) health and wealth come together for real sustainable long-term impact, health and wealth for all.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
In my experience, I think mindset, alignment, and strategy are the key factors to running a successful business on top of a great idea, of course! The thing is with these three key elements is that they need to fit together in the right way to make it work. If you are working hard and giving it all you can (mindset) but you are working on the wrong thing (strategy) there is no use in putting in all that effort. You may have some success, maybe a little, maybe a lot, but it is not in alignment with the bigger picture.
Find someone to support you or some way that is in alignment with who you are. Rome wasn’t built in a day and there isn’t one way to succeed. Redefine what true success means for your business, you as a person, and your family, and create an aligned strategy that fits your unique circumstances. The one-size-fits-all approach isn’t suitable if you want to run a successful business that works for you.
I feel successful if I get to spend time with my young children and husband, work several hours with my clients, and have the support — inside and outside the business — to not have to do this all by myself. I see many of my clients having too many “full-time’s” in their life, it simply doesn’t fit and it will drive you into burnout, or worse.
Success isn’t the amount of work you get done. It is a feeling inside.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
The worst advice I followed is the “work hard and it will pay off” advice. This advice, and the whole hustle until you drop culture is very detrimental to someone’s (mental) health. There is nothing wrong with working hard and enjoying what you do, however, “work hard” is not a solid business strategy on its own.
If you are working on the “wrong” thing 80% of your time, of course, you will notice the progress you make, but you will probably be also very tired and drained. Personally, I’ve tried for many years to do as much as I can, and during high school and university, I easily did 60–80 hours per week with everything that was going on and it left me completely burned out in the end. So yes, work for your dreams but work on the things that are actually useful for your goals and incorporate rest in your strategy too. Because no one can run a business successfully when they are on the verge of a breakdown.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
Part of my work is to help teams and small businesses figure out what works best for them. It often comes down to a combination of a mindset (beliefs like “we can’t do it this way” or “this is impossible”) and practical support on the “how” to make these changes. Often the key is flexibility, for example, the time to pick up the children from daycare, and not plan in that meeting at the end of the day when the parents have to leave. Tweaks to how the team operates and a certain level of freedom to manage other aspects of life gives a much better result than viewing employees as a number that just have to be there X amount of hours. If companies honour boundaries, for example, if someone has a 40-hour contract, don’t expect them to do 80 anyway.
I’ve witnessed fascinating things in 2020 that some companies just threw all hard deadlines out of the window, or enforced them regardless of anyone’s home situation. It made me wonder how all these self-imposed deadlines are really necessary and the impact they truly have on the team and their well-being.
Burnout costs are very high and each year it costs between 125 billion dollars and $190 billion dollars in healthcare costs. A lot of these costs can be prevented but we need to start redefining what work and success mean to us as a collective in order to do so.
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
Authenticity is key when building trust, credibility, and authority in your industry. Over the past few years, digital courses have taken the world by a storm for example. But I know how much my clients value that they get to talk to a real person — which they can connect with — even if it is through the internet.
When building your audience, resonance is key. If your (potential) clients don’t resonate with your words, you will never build the levels of trust you need to continue to grow and scale your business. Find a balance to be authentic to lead by example and staying true to yourself with healthy and strong boundaries. Of course, this can be outsourced as well to an agency that can convey your message for you.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
As I said, there is so much digital nowadays and human connection is a rare occurrence. People are craving connection to others, but mostly to themselves. I share openly about my mental health problems from the past and my current struggles whilst managing my business, two young children, and a busy field-service engineer husband. This level of openness gives others permission to talk about their own mental health issues or struggles, and subsequently do something about it because they’ve seen me do it too! That builds the ultimate level of trust, credibility, and authority, and for me a lot of happy and repeat clients.
I strongly believe a lot of people are looking for ways to be inspired and to rise to create a better life for themselves, their family, and others. And if you give yourself permission to step into your light, you will automatically allow others to do the same.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
The biggest mistake I see many CEOs & founders make is thinking that working hard is an automatic formula for success. I can’t stress this enough, if you are working on the wrong things that are not in alignment with your vision, or your goals, you only achieve limited — or no — success.
We can avoid this altogether by adopting a new mindset where we replace the “hard work equals success” belief with a more well-rounded belief that serves us in a better way. Personally, I like to phrase it this way. I am 100% committed to my success 100% of the time, but this doesn’t mean I have to work 24/7. My commitment to my success includes good night’s sleep, storytime with the kids, and date night with hubby for example. As I am there, fully present, feeling good about myself and my life, inspiration comes guaranteed.
I’ve learned to master working with my energy in this way. Because I follow my intuition and guidance around what I want to achieve, such as who do I need to message or reach out to, or what app do I need to open to land my next speaking gig, etc, I can really quickly create success I am after by using my energy very precisely. I may not work 80-hours per week, but I am always 100% committed to having the success I desire even if I am not actively busy working.
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
This is such a fascinating concept to me. What I’ve discovered in my life, but I see this with my clients as well, is that the dramatic highs and lows often tie in with our belief systems. When growing up we get taught that hard work pays off, work hard and you will be a success, or things like it is lonely at the top, and these are unhealthy and unhelpful belief systems many of us operate on.
The dramatic highs and lows don’t have to be part of your life if you choose no longer to be a vibrational match to it. So whether we have our own business, or have a job, we do not have to subscribe to the notion that success comes with struggle, sacrifice, and extreme high and lows. But many of us still do so that’s why we are still seeing these patterns played out in front of us as a society. As a culture, we believe a regular job provides stability, in other words, less drama or highs and lows in comparison with being self-employed. We can change these cultural beliefs and patterns for sure, but it does take some reassessment of our own belief systems before we are ready to align ourselves with no more sacrifice.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Thinking back over the past 6 years, I think becoming an international best-selling author was my absolute high moment. I love writing and I’ve always wanted to become a published author, so to experience becoming an international bestselling author, that was definitely like hitting the jackpot. As a result of it, my business grew by 400% in 2020 and I’ve been nominated for several awards, and won!
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
I think my lowest point came after giving birth to my second baby. As my husband went back to work and was away a lot of nights, and my little one was only being able to sleep on one of us, it was a really tricky situation. No surprise there, postnatal depression showed up and I also lost a lot of my hair because of the stress. I had to take off additional time to recover and together with my husband we made structural changes, so I would be able to run my company as well as have the support at home to stay mentally and physically well. But it was definitely a really difficult time for me and my family.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
Your work-life balance won’t improve until you make structural changes to the way you run your life. In my case, we had to tell my husband’s boss to cut back the overnights (as it was not part of his contract anyway), at home I got help with the kids, and in my business, I hired extra support. As this covered a big part of the different elements that make life, life, it allowed me to have the time and space to look after my own mental health in a new way. Thanks to local support from amazing women such as a local massage therapist and chiropractor specializing in women’s wellbeing we managed to get me back on track.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
There are so many things we can do to successfully ride the journey of being an entrepreneur but these are my absolute favorites:
- Support is important
As a woman growing up, I was always told to be independent, not to rely on anyone, especially not a man! And it left me miserable, to be honest. When becoming a parent on top of that, there are just so many things you “should” be doing. It is simply just too much to manage for one person. I really had to shift towards allowing support into my life, something I found extremely tricky to do. But in the end, it was definitely worth it.
- Success isn’t linear.
It goes up and down, and yet it’s not something we openly talk about. We talk about the successes, talk about the quest, talk about the exciting journey, but it comes with lows and highs no one seems to really be wanting to talk about the setbacks or failures. So if you are experiencing setbacks in your business, it’s not because there’s something wrong with you. It is just a normal part of what it means to run your own business. Not everyone will understand this, especially if they don’t have their own business themselves. If you are struggling to navigate this, working with a coach would be very beneficial for you, or join masterminds with like-minded people to support each other.
- Failure is feedback.
When things don’t go as planned, it can feel very overwhelming. However, failure is feedback, not a death sentence or a self-worth assessment. If you are in business as solopreneurs or business owner, or if you run a big company as the CEO, it is hard not to take things personally when things don’t go as planned. Of course, because you feel responsible for the choices you made and the staff you employ. Yes, you are responsible for the choices made, but you should try not to internalize them because it’s not the end of the world when things go differently than expected! Often it’s a redirect to something better. Try to separate the two.
- Being busy and being productive are entirely different things.
I see this happen all the time for my clients. We put endless things on our to-do list. We “should” be doing all these things because that is what is expected of us. Or so we think. We wear so many hats, from running your business and being a partner, parent, friend, you name it. Yet being productive is something completely different from being busy. So if you’re talking about success, are the things you’re working on actually part of your long-term strategy to create those dreams and hit those targets? Or are you just keeping yourself busy for the sake of being busy because it makes you feel important? So next time you plan to stuff in, make your to-do lists and fill up your calendar. Think about these questions. Do these things contribute to my vision for myself, my family, and my business? Am I productive, or am I just keeping myself busy with things I should be doing?
- Rest is a productive activity.
We live in a society that values doing over being to just go, go, go and get things done. Hit those targets and get towards those goals with as much speed and force we can. Looking after yourself is almost equally, if not more, important to achieving your goals and being the most successful person that you like to be. There is no point trying to build your business at the expense of your marriage or working yourself into a burnout, so you don’t even get to enjoy what you’ve created. Therefore, rest is a productivity activity because you know that you can get much more done with better quality after a good night’s sleep than if you haven’t slept for a night or two or three. Well-being matters for you and the people you work with, and once you start prioritizing how you feel, you will notice a drastic improvement in all areas of your life/business. So success comes with plenty of time to rest, recharge and realign for the best — and easiest — results.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience to me means it doesn’t matter how often you try and fall down, you always get up one time, so R=F+1 basically! The thing is, sometimes in life we are dealt pretty cards and even though these periods can be extremely challenging it is also the time where the biggest desires are born through the contrast we are experiencing. I’ve been homeless sleeping on friends’ couches and I remember clearly how I kept my eye on the goal to create a beautiful warm home for myself. Now, 17 years later, I have the most beautiful house with my family in the country of my dreams. Throughout my own experience, I would say the characteristics or traits of resilient people must include the desire to change their current circumstances no matter what and they always keep their eye on the goal.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Growing up in an abusive and unsupportive environment, I learned early on I couldn’t depend on the other members of the family to “rescue” me and help me out. It made me very resilient at an early age because simply I had to and if I didn’t, I would not have survived.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I have the natural ability to dive into difficult situations and make them work again. I don’t know if it has something to do with my upbringing or if it is just part of me, but it is incredibly handy. I remember during my master’s at university reading a book about the Spanish Civil War. If I remember it correctly, I think it was Piet Laros (one of the first Dutchmen in Spain) describing how the men responded as they went into battle.
Laros said there were three times when the men would respond in these difficult times:
- They would freak themselves out before with negative self-talk (or perhaps being realistic in hindsight),
- While the bullets and bombs were flying around their ears,
- Or after the fact.
I am definitely a person who falls under the last category as I’ve noticed this happens over and over again. Knowing that, what helps me, is taking the time to look after myself to process events and not force myself to jump right back in. I know I am skilled enough to manage any situation thrown at me, I just need to make sure I take extra time, and sometimes then some, to put it in perspective. As long as I give myself this processing time, I can keep my positive attitude most of the time.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
There is a reason why “lead by example” exists. Positive energy is contagious and if the leader feels like they know what they are doing others will automatically respond to that. For example, we all know that one person at work or one of our friends that just gives us that positive vibe. It is just great to be around them even if you don’t say or do much. That’s why (mental) health is such an important element. When we feel great, we — and our team — get better results, that’s why genuine positivity leads to positive effects and results.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
One of my favorite quotes is “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito” from the Dalai Lama. Growing up in The Netherlands — plus being allergic to mosquito bites — I spent my hours chasing these little creatures in my bedroom at night! We come across a lot of naysayers in our life and talk us out of so many things because they think it is “impossible”. Well, if a tiny mosquito can have that kind of impact on my life, can you imagine what kind of impact I can have on the life of others?! That is why I found this quote always to be very inspirational because it reminds me you should never underestimate the power you hold when going for something that matters to you!
How can our readers further follow you online?
The best way to connect with me is via LinkedIn and visit my website grantmethod.com. If you are interested in uncovering your own personal success strategy, you can take my fun and a free quiz to help you have the impact you desire but without sacrificing you! Visit grantmethod.com/quiz to get started.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!