Whenever we read articles and posts by entrepreneurs on social media, we tend to believe that becoming an entrepreneur is like finding the promised land. The freedom, the money, the impact, the choices!
However, hardly anyone speaks about the possible downside of being an entrepreneur: the doubts, the worries, the long hours, the uncomfortable feeling when selling your products, the difficulty of choosing the right path, overcoming the hurdle of promoting yourself, and so on.
Just the other day I spoke to a talented woman who had set up her business, but after 2 years of struggling, she decided to go back to a corporate job. She told me; “I felt like a total loser when I browse social media. Everyone else seemed to be nailing this entrepreneur thing and I wasn’t. With every post that said: ‘I just sold out my program” or “I made 6 figures in 6 months”, I felt myself going down into that negative hole of judgment, worries and self-doubt.”
She teared up when she said that. “I feel like I’m just not cut out to be an entrepreneur and that’s why I decided to go back to a corporate job”. She shrugged with teary eyes, clearly disappointed with herself and sad with this decision.
Stories like these make me sad, as this is the downside of social media. It’s only showing us the happy, successful pictures. Yet I believe it is crucial to talk about both sides of the coin. Being an entrepreneur isn’t always all sunshine and rainbows. And it’s about time we have an honest discussion about that, so let’s dive into the 3 thoughts every entrepreneur has (had) but hardly ever talks about.
“I need more clients”
This is the nr. 1 thought that causes a lot of worry – and loneliness. I’m not afraid to say that e.v.e.r.y. entrepreneur struggled with this issue at some point in their career and especially during these times of crisis.
A lack of money and cash flow is a huge problem and there’s a lot of shame around this topic. I feel it too. For many of us (including me), having money builds our self-esteem. Not having enough money is a shameful thing to admit. It means we’re failing and that feels awful.
And therefore, we keep up appearances, replying to the question ‘How are you doing?’ with ‘Oh, I’m fine, working on interesting projects, you know’. How refreshing it would be if we could reply with: ‘I would love to have more clients, but I’m struggling to get them’.
Knowing that every entrepreneur has (had) this issue, may help you to be OK with it. It’s a fact of life to keep in mind when you’re an entrepreneur. But let’s not forget, there’s also the power of having faith in your own ability to make money. Knowing your big ‘why’ behind your business is crucial to make that happen. Keeping that big ‘why’ in mind while you’re in your zone of genius will help you to focus on a bigger cause and then clients (and thus money) will follow. It’s never the other way around.
“Perhaps I should get myself a job”
When things don’t work out as an entrepreneur, it’s very tempting to start thinking of a steady job, a regular income, and being part of a team. For many, the way to achieve that, is to find a job. Not having any worries about money coming in can be a great relief.
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with going back to a regular job. If being an entrepreneur doesn’t work for you; congratulations. You tried it and that’s more than many other people are able to say. I believe it’s our job in this life to use our talents to the max. And whether that’s in a corporate job, as a volunteer, as a stay-at-home mom or an entrepreneur (or a combination), it’s all good.
Secondly, I think it’s important to remind yourself that every entrepreneur has this thought when things get tough. This thought pops up when we have less clients, when we have to deal with complaints, with trolls, with negative feedback from our loved ones.
I didn’t know this, until I went back to a corporate job in 2013 and told people about my reasons for taking on a job again. It was then that I heard many entrepreneurs consider this. By the way, going back to corporate didn’t work for me, as I was bound to be independent and self-employed – but it might for you. In any case, knowing that many entrepreneurs struggle with this thought every now and again, was a great relief.
It’s always good to have a plan B. I know positivity gurus disagree with me, because having a plan B might imply that you’re OK with plan A to fail, but I don’t feel that way. Having a plan B can feel like safety net, like a life insurance. And if having a plan B makes you feel good, then by all means, have a plan B. But don’t forget to fully test plan A first before executing plan B.
“Why can’t I be like successful entrepreneur X?”
Ah, comparisonitis, my old friend. The ‘disease’ to compare ourselves to others is already huge among people in general, let alone among entrepreneurs. We all know the feeling of watching other people online, sharing success stories, witty posts and insightful tips without any fails. Of course, our hearts are big enough to be happy for others, but we want success for us too.
First of all, ‘being successful’ has as many definitions as we’ve got people in this world. What does it mean to you? Having thousands of clients, earning 6 figures, having the freedom to determine who you want to work with, using your talents to the max? Don’t follow other people’s definitions of success, but try to come up with your own – and don’t get distracted by what others are saying.
Furthermore, I happen to know a number of 6- and 7-figure business owners who suffer from fatigue and anxiety, so earning a lot of money and being under a certain pressure may come at a certain price. However, that’s a side of the coin that won’t be shown on social media, as it’s not a popular thing to say that you’ve got weekly calls with a psychotherapist to deal with your anxiety.
If you hadn’t noticed yet; I’m a advocate of keeping things real. When you’ve got these thoughts when running your own business, you’re not crazy. You’re in great company. I know I’ve suffered from the thoughts I just described above – and if I don’t remind myself of that other side that people never discuss, I might go down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and worry too.
Being an entrepreneur is an amazing journey with a steep and never-ending learning curve of personal development, but it’s not the only way to use our unique talents and skills in this world. Find out what’s your way and embrace every step on the road to discovery!