One of my main goals with my personal brand is to showcase a real, authentic look at running a business as a young adult. The “Young Entrepreneur” market is on fire right now, but while the flashy cars and six figure salaries might be alluring, these influencers almost always fail to showcase what it really takes to run a successful company.
Sure, they make becoming an entrepreneur sound like the best thing that could ever happen. Drop out of school, quit your job, and six months down the road you’re making six figures. All it takes is a little self-discipline, a few late nights, and giving up a few of life’s luxuries. Sounds easy, right?
In one of my previous posts, I touched on the notion that starting a business isn’t just about making money and buying Porsches. If you’re in this for the right reasons, it can take years before you even start to see profits from your company. To have a goal of literally creating a job for yourself (and others) is no easy feat, and it doesn’t happen overnight.
But with this post, I want to touch on something that I rarely see talked about from any Entrepreneur mentor. That is, when everything goes wrong.
Over the past few months, our company has grown at an exponential rate. What started out as a few odd design jobs has quickly evolved into a full fledged creative studio. This rapid expansion isn’t all champagne popping and confetti however. Every company that’s still in it’s foundational period faces major growing pains.
We’ve nailed down our specifics; what we offer and how to close clients. Some would say this is the hardest part, but due to our backgrounds, everyone on our team is an expert in their respective field, and our experience helps us find and close clients more quickly than most startups.
The issue, however, is in our operation. We’re growing at such a rapid rate, we haven’t had time to iron out an iron-clad process for each of our services. We know what we’re doing, but the more people we bring on and clients we mix in, the more clouded it becomes.
This small, low level issue quickly erupted into a full-fledged nightmare this past week. A project my team and I are apart of, started having serious issues this past week. Basically, anything that could go wrong, went wrong. And myself, being in charge of one of the main aspects of the project, was in charge of fixing it.
Only, I had absolutely no idea how to fix it.
New issues were flooding my inbox. My to-do list was miles long. My head was killing me, and my eyes were dry as a desert from starting at a screen for the past 9 hours. It got to the point where I stood up from my desk, walked into my living room, and collapsed on the couch.
In the past, there had been moments where I doubted my capability to succeed. Small stuff such as not landing a client or making simple mistakes that cost me in the moment. But last week, was the first time I have felt truly helpless in my position.
As I laid on the couch, listening to Slack messages echo from my office, I began to think how I could ever recover from this setback. Every problem has a thousand solutions, only with this problem, we didn’t know which solutions would work, and which would make things even worse. Even attempting one solution would require hours of work, only to yield more problems.
We’ve all been here at some point or another. Maybe not as a business owner, but there are certain events that happen in our lives that leave us feeling defeated. Maybe it’s an exam you can’t comprehend the material for. Maybe it’s a bad breakup that’s devastated your mindset. Maybe it’s a medical diagnosis that wasn’t what you were expecting.
This feeling of hopelessness, defeat, and anxiety, is what I call “On The Ropes.”
I’m not big into professional fighting, but I do occasionally tune in to see two guys beat the sense out of each other. At some point in the fight though, there is a moment where one contender takes one hit too many, and takes a step back. His confident stance vanishes, and he lowers his defense. Sometimes, he even uses the side of the ring to hold his body up.
He’s down, but he’s not out.
It’s in this brief moment, where this fighter has a choice. He’s currently bleeding, probably can’t feel half his body, and the other half feels like it’s on fire. He could easily throw his hands up, end the torment, and head home (or to the hospital).
Or, he could collect himself, regain his strength, and continue the fight. We’ve all seen it happen. The guy that looks like he’s about to lose consciousness, suddenly springs to life and knocks his opponent to the ground. The underdog that everyone assumed would fall, picks himself back up and finishes the job.
Which is exactly what you need to do if you’re in this situation.
Could you imagine what would happen if right in the middle of a World-Wide televised boxing match, one opponent got punched, stepped back, and then called it quits? Before he even hits the ground, he just decides he’s had enough, and exits the match. All the training he went through, all the trash talk he gave, and he just quits. No one in existence would ever let him live that down.
And the same can be applied to anyone in this same situation. Let’s say instead of solving my problem, I just quit. All the years I’ve put into growing my companies, all the struggles I’ve conquered, mean nothing now. It would be like climbing a mountain to the cliff below the peak, and turning around to head back down before reaching the top.
We all have feelings of helplessness in certain seasons of our life. Nothing seems to go right, and we’re frustrated beyond comprehension. What the “masterminds” won’t tell you though, is this usually means you’re headed in the right direction.
Life isn’t a paved highway, but more of a dirt trail through an overgrown jungle. You’re not going to go through life without issues or problems. What matters is when you face these seemingly world-ending problems, giving up will not solve them. More so, it’ll probably make things worse the longer you put off solving them. You may not have the answer now, but that doesn’t mean you never will.
As I write this, I still don’t have solutions to all the problems I’m facing with this project. But even though I had my few moments of helplessness last week, I understand that giving up isn’t going to fix anything. What will fix them, is picking myself back up, and continuing the fight.