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7 Things Only an Entrepreneur Understands

7 Things Only an Entrepreneur Understands

I wasn’t always an entrepreneur…

My first job in high school was at one of our local fast food restaurants and within six months, I had a different job working at one of the local supermarkets, where I continued to work through high school and college. Over the last 25 years, I have held numerous jobs in a variety of industries with a vast amount of responsibilities.

Aside from motherhood, no “job” has been as extreme or as difficult as becoming a business owner. The rewards are smaller but carry more meaning. Every piece of education is “on the job training” and there is some solace in knowing (believing) that most will never know of your mistakes.

No matter the industry or type of business, every entrepreneur develops one thing…the same mindset.

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No one teaches us how to have it, but it is something that becomes quite necessary as soon as we open our doors to the public or offer our services. I’m sure there are books out there that can guide us, but it can be quite difficult to completely change the way one thinks, processes information, and puts things into action. All when none of those have ever been done before.

As an entrepreneur myself, I know the diligence I need to have to make my business successful and, every day, that is my goal. Some days, I feel like I accomplish nothing, even though I have been sitting at my desk for over 8 hours (or more).

7 ways to better understand the entrepreneur you know:

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1. We are our worst critic

In our world, no one could demand more of our performance than we do. If we get a bad review, we are embarrassed by it and will do what we can to rectify it. In some workplaces, people will place blame and find excuses for poor performance or lack of attention when it comes to projects being done correctly and on time. However, there are no excuses when you own your own business. There is no one to blame but yourself. Our level of standards and expectations of perfection supersede any that your boss just placed on you. You see, we are the boss and the employee.

2. We are always “on the job”

When you are an entrepreneur, we are always working. We might be away from our office, even out on a date with our spouse, and something will remind us of something we need to get done or create an entirely new idea that we need to explore more. Too often, my husband has rolled over at 3am only to catch me sending myself an email regarding something I just thought of that I know I will forget when I get up in the morning. Little triggers throughout everyday life catch us off guard and, for most people, they can just dismiss it and let it go. Afraid we might miss out on some great new display at the store, or looking for ways to improve a process, is a never-ending task for the owner of the company.

3. Some days, we just need a good cry

Believe it or not, some days are harder than others. Sometimes, we aren’t even sure why, but we know we will feel better afterward. It’s not because we aren’t tough or want to quit. It’s because we are human. Working so hard on something, day in and day out is emotionally exhausting. It wears on us and we carry it with us, even if we think it’s not there. The feeling of being overwhelmed can drain every ounce of energy we woke up with and will stress us out more than any deadline given to us in a traditional job. If the tears don’t come, sometimes a quick escape to have a beer or two with a friend works just as well.

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4. Business is personal

People have said that “business is just business.” But every business has been built and created because of a dream or vision. Someone thought of it before it became a reality. That makes it personal. We created something that didn’t exist before and we built it into what you see today. The roads we have taken may have been the right ones that included being at the right place at the right time and other roads included mistakes we wish we had known better never to have taken. So every decision, every act, every thought brought into a business comes from someone…and that someone is more often than not the business owner.

5. We celebrate the little success

Most of us didn’t start our own businesses to win some great award or make a million dollars in our first year. We face many hurdles and take more chances than anyone else. We know what’s at stake. We know the amount of effort and time we have committed to building this business, so the little things that move us forward in the direction of those same goals are ones we cherish. Maybe they aren’t something most consumers notice right away, but we know we did something pretty exciting. Those small little validations that come our way become treasured moments and sometimes, those dates become celebrated anniversaries for years to come.

6. We don’t sleep well

In some cases, sleep might even be optional. We are the first one to arrive and the last one to leave. Even after we head home, we are bombarded with work we just didn’t get done. When we aren’t hanging out with customers, meeting potential clients, or doing “grunge” work, we might just want to steal a quick 20-minute power nap. Getting to bed after 11pm and up by 5am, every day will take its toll on our minds and bodies. Some of our worst habits are a result of not taking care of ourselves and getting enough sleep just doesn’t make it on the “To Do” list for the day. Right? Sleep? We have too much to do to waste our time sleeping.

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7. We have great support

There is no way any entrepreneur could do what he or she does without the support of great people. Whether those are family or friends, knowing we have people who encourage our dreams and cheer for us, no matter what kind of a day we are having, reminds us of what it matters to keep moving forward. Sometimes that support comes from investors, the loan officer at the bank, or your neighbors in the same strip mall. Our business could not keep growing and expanding if people didn’t believe in us. We don’t always tell you, but we are ever grateful and humbled every day.

The people who choose to take their dream and make it something real will always inspire the rest of the world for a variety of reasons. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to become an entrepreneur. The commitment to moving forward, picking yourself back up, and trying something new is extraordinary in itself. Believing in one’s ability and skill takes great faith and amazing hope. However, once you choose that lifestyle, it changes you. Maybe not at first. Maybe you don’t even notice it. Maybe you can’t explain it. A room full of entrepreneurs will always have one thing in common and that elite group always understands what it takes to own and run your own business.

So, if you are an entrepreneur, I get it. I totally get it.

More by this author

Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Published on July 15, 2020

7 Ways to Improve Focus And Memory (Backed By Science)

7 Ways to Improve Focus And Memory (Backed By Science)

You know that feeling when you’re wide awake, but your brain isn’t? You want better focus and memory, but you just can’t seem to get there.

I call it “brain fog”—an annoying mental haze that results in difficulty focusing, trouble retaining information, and, as a result, compromised effectiveness.

For some reason, the fog always seems to sneak up on me when I need my brain power the most, like before an important presentation or on the day before a major project is due. However, with the right tools, I usually find my way back to better focus and memory in the nick of time.

Like the dense clouds that hover over city streets, brain fog can feel impossible to cut through.

Fortunately, the human brain is resilient. With a little training and redirection, it’s possible to reclaim your mind from the fog and all the frustration (and lost time) that comes with it.

Struggling to stay on task or retain information? Try these 7 science-backed methods for better focus and memory

1. Do a Short, Strenuous Workout

I had slept for a full eight hours and eaten a nutritious breakfast. I had even had an extra cup of coffee that morning. But none of it was enough to wake up my brain. (Of course, I also happened to be on an important deadline.) So, I did the last thing I could think of: I shut my laptop and hit the gym.

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There’s plenty of well-known evidence that physical activity can positively impact brain health, including a person’s memory. While many of exercise’s health benefits occur with regular, long-term activity, a single bout of exercise can also pack a significant, immediate, punch.

To improve your memory with exercise, think short bouts and high exertion. The more strenuous the workout, the better the brain boost. In a recent study, researchers found a group of people who rode on a stationary bike for 20 minutes had an improved ability to remember faces[1].

Rather than taking a long, leisurely walk on your lunch break, try running up and down the stairs a few times, or find a place to do some jumping jacks for a few minutes. You’ll not only jump start your energy and sharpen your focus, but you’ll improve your memory in the process.

2. Exercise After You Learn

If you’re starting a new job, learning a new skill, or just attending an important meeting, do yourself a favor and plan your workout for four hours afterward. Along with boosting your focus, a bit of high-intensity movement can also be a simple way to retain recently learned knowledge—but only if you exercise at the right time.

In their research, scientists had participants learn a set of picture-location associations. One group rode a stationary bike at high intensity right after learning, another group did the exercise four hours later, and the final group didn’t do any physical activity.

Using an MRI, researchers found the individuals who exercised four hours after learning retained the most information compared to the other learners[2].

3. Cut the Distractions

There’s a time and a place for a break to re-calibrate your brain, but these breaks should be intentional. Constant interruptions won’t do you any favors, except for interrupting your workflow, and they certainly won’t lead to better focus and memory.

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I find I’m most productive and focused when I don’t give myself the opportunity to mentally switch gears. That means I keep distractions to a minimum the best I can.

When I want to achieve a state of “flow,” I put my phone on airplane mode so I don’t receive notifications that will veer me off track. I also eliminate unnecessary distractions by keeping my desk and office space clear of clutter when possible, and closing all other tabs on my internet browser.

Since the brain isn’t hard-wired to multi-task, I also try not to listen to podcasts or distracting music, which compete for my attention. Instead, I opt for classical music, which has been thought to improve focus by enhancing brain activity[3].

4. Go Outside

When it comes to better focus and memory, a little fresh air and beautiful scenery can go a long way. Even if you simply sit outside for your lunch break, you’re giving your brain more oxygen, which can boost your energy levels and improve overall brain function.

Spending longer chunks of time in nature can have profound, immediate effects on the mind. One study found memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent in people who spent just one hour in nature[4].

Don’t let the cloudy or cold weather keep you from the outdoors; researchers found the same effects across the board. Surprisingly, even simply viewing nature photos had a similar effect on people.

If you absolutely can’t venture outside, temporarily move your workstation to an area with plants (or go out and buy a potted plant or some fresh stems for your home office). One study found that adding live plants to an office increased employee productivity by 15 percent and improved workers’ concentration[5].

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5. Meditate

Having a hard time focusing or remembering important details? Train your brain and body to stay in the present by practicing mindful meditation, which can also benefit your mental and physical health.

Scientific evidence shows meditating can actually change your brain structure, leading to a sharper short-term memory and an improved ability to learn[6]

Meditation can also help the brain with emotional regulation and sustained attention[7].

Luckily, you don’t have to be a pro to reap the benefits of meditation. One of my favorite ways to meditate is simply sitting with my eyes closed for five minutes and taking deep breaths from my belly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Whenever I get distracted by an outside noise—or more likely, if my brain wanders to whatever I have coming up later on that day—I try to shift my focus back to my breathing. Those ten minutes make a huge difference in both my focus and my overall mood.

6. Grab a Cup of Coffee (or Two)

Fortunately for me, there’s actual scientific evidence behind my favorite afternoon pick-me-up habit: a hot cup of coffee. Can’t get out for a quick bout of exercise? Simply walk to your favorite coffee shop (or your kitchen), instead.

By getting up or going out for a drink, you’ll not only glean the benefits of some exercise and a much-needed break, but the process of sipping your drink, you’ll become more productive. A 2016 study found a caffeine jolt (as low as 40 mg, which is around four ounces of regular coffee) can improve alertness, attention span, and reaction time.

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A bit of caffeine can even help with vigilance, or the ability to sustain performance on boring tasks[8].

7. Do Something Else

Training your mind to remain in the present can lead to better focus and memory. However, zoning out or doing something else completely, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, has a similar effect on the mind.

Here’s why losing focus is more productive than you think: when you’re concentrated on something, your frontal cortex is busy resisting distractions. If you stay concentrated for too long, your ability to resist distractions will become fatigued, and that Netflix show or your Instagram feed will become all the more appealing[9]

Let your mind take a break from the task at hand if you’re losing steam. Instead of forcing yourself to focus, daydream, solve another problem, or engage in an engrossing, hands-on activity, like washing the dishes.

Sure, it may feel counterproductive to take your mind (and hands) off the project you’re trying to focus on, but you’ll probably come back to the task with a refreshed mind—and maybe, if you’re lucky, a kitchen full of clean dishes.

More Tips on Obtaining Better Focus and Memory

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

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