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7 Things Only an Entrepreneur Understands

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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.

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More by this author

Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

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How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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