Stage 2 of Start-up Success How to Run your Own Show

Welcome to the second stage of achieving start-up success! If you haven’t read our first post in this four post series on emotional roadmaps to start-up success from the book “Birthing the Elephant,” please check it out here! In stage two, we will be focusing on how to “run your own show.”

According to both authors, one can expect to feel the following emotions during this stage of start-up:

What you’ll feel: A sense of loss, Image anxiety, Mixed internal signals, Renewed commitment.

After an action-packed roller coaster of feelings during your first several months of starting up your business, you’re probably finding yourself running on mere adrenaline. However, you might be starting to sense that the “honeymoon” stage of your startup is coming to a close, and with this comes a lull in your motivation to keep going forward. The authors suggest dealing with what they call a sense of loss, by focusing on the following:

  • Embracing your role as an entrepreneur
  • Shifting into leadership mode
  • Formulating a vision for your business
  • Handling your emotional ups and downs

With the sense of loss, you may find yourself experiencing image anxiety, due to your efforts in reshaping your work life and your personal life. Furthermore, feeling this image anxiety is almost like opening up Pandora’s box. Any insecurities or uncertainties that had been lying dormant before, may now start to emerge to the surface. This can lead you to overspend on ways in which your image can be as close to perfect as possible, so be careful with this! You should be starting out with a focus on the basics. Why? Your clients and customers what your services or products and want an effective delivery. Don’t put pressure on yourself in having an expensive office space or a fancy website in the beginning. Look to other resources that are more practical and affordable for your budget, like a coworking space.

Mixed internal signals go hand in hand with image anxiety, as you might find yourself wavering between fear and optimism now that your immediate workload may seem to have dwindled down. Don’t worry! This is your body testing yourself in the new environment you have created. Interestingly enough, you aren’t just testing your business abilities, but your emotional stamina. You may be struggling with whether or not you can really make this work, and if you can count on yourself to stay motivated during the rest of the journey.

Finally, you may have moments or entire days at a time where you question whether or not you should give up all together. Guess what? During this stage, you’ll discover a sense of deepening commitment to your startup and what makes you value it so much. This is a major milestone, so give yourself a pat on the back, and don’t sweat the small stuff at this point. Your emotional investment and your decisions are now seemingly more urgent; making this venture successful is not just a test of your business ability, but also of your own self-esteem. As the authors say, “you have become your business, and your business has become you.”

Quote from "Birthing the Elephant" by Karin Abarbanel & Bruce Freeman

Quote from “Birthing the Elephant” by Karin Abarbanel & Bruce Freeman

Key Success Strategies: Find a compelling vision, Create a mission statement, Manage your emotions, Build an internal power base

In dealing with the variety of  emotions you may experience, there are ways in which you can recenter yourself in order to stay on track. Creating a mission statement that embodies your product or service can be daunting at first, it is almost like writing a thesis sentence. Don’t skip out on accomplishing this,  because having a mission statement can be empowering and motivating! Concentrate on the bigger picture first which includes your beliefs, values, and  goals. You can continue to revise it until you feel  comfortable with the wording, but remember that getting the first draft down on paper will energize your entrepreneurial spirit to power through this process.

One of my favorite strategies the authors give, is in your ability to manage your emotions. You absolutely must become comfortable with being uncomfortable, because there are going to be many times in this process that others will test you and where you will test yourself.

Finally, the strategy of building an internal power base is key to how you can run your own show. You no longer have people to answer to and be accountable to, so you must find ways to be your own boss. You will have to learn to live with unexpected chaos and uncertainty, but isn’t that what makes an entrepreneur thrive? Despite the lack of a defined and set path, you must use your personal and internal connections to sustain the power it takes to keep you going on your journey.

Stay tuned for stage three on start-up success, in which we will summarize the book’s arguments for the importance of turning breakdowns into breakthroughs. Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment below with any questions or share your own start-up stories with us.

“Unexpected things are going to happen, keep learning and keep going.” –Sarah Levy


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