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.
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:
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.
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.
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.