Welcome to stage 3 of your emotional roadmap to start-up success! If you haven’t already, make sure to read both Stage one and Stage two before you continue! In stage three, we will be summarizing and discussing how to turn breakdowns into breakthroughs. Authors Abarbanel and Freeman of “Birthing the Elephant,” explain that in this stage, your goals for the next six months should consist of the following:
- Manage your self-doubt and fears
- Hang tough during your fall-apart stage
- Pace yourself and stay motivated
- Strengthen your resiliency muscle
What you’ll expect to feel:
- Performance anxiety
- Fall-apart jitters
You may have been feeling these feelings throughout each stage of the process, but now they are truly starting to manifest in your day-to-day life as an entrepreneur. The authors explain that in this stage, your start-up is starting to collide with reality; your mind is trying to close the gap between the idea of having your own business and the reality of actually running the business each day. There’s one thing you can count on: you most certainly are not missing the 9-5 work schedule you once had–you’re hooked on the entrepreneurial rollercoaster!
Performance anxiety can develop around this time, because without a boss, a promotion, and a consistent paycheck, it’s difficult for you to measure progress and success. This can put you under a tremendous amount of pressure because you are desperate for tangible results that can relieve the overwhelming uncertainty of where you are and where you’re going. Unfortunately, your friends and family that supported you in the beginning stage, the honeymoon stage, may now start to be either a little less interested or share some of your doubts. Remember: the life of an entrepreneur is difficult to understand, unless you are an entrepreneur yourself! Don’t worry, this is just their human nature kicking in. They just want to have more social time with you, and unfortunately you don’t have that to give to them just yet. Tell them to hang in there with you, and draw back upon the little successes you’ve had along the way thus far.
When self-doubt hits, you may find yourself questioning not only your big decisions, but also smaller decisions that didn’t used to worry you. The authors also mention that self-doubt can lead you to questioning about timing, and your response can often be to take flight and retreat. Don’t do this! These feelings are entirely normal, and honestly there is never “perfect” time either socially or economically to begin your startup. Plus, trying to back out or find a plan B by exploring the job market again can leave you just feeling confused and pulled in different directions. Focus on one direction: forward.
The fall-apart phase is one of those defining moments of your launch; you may be feeling discouraged and frustrated but you will have to fight to put everything back together while maintaining sense and control in the process. Remember, whatever emerges from this fall-apart stage is likely going to be positive, and at the very least you have transformed into a stronger individual. Finally, there is a part of yourself that is determined, because no matter what you have faced, you have managed to get through it and push forward. Enjoy these moments and let them fuel your determination and ability to trust in yourself.
Key Success Strategies:
- Use fantasy to defuse tension
- Find a secret motivator
- Resist the “I quit!” impulse
- Build your resiliency muscle
When you’re feeling overwhelmed during this stage, force yourself to take mental vacations in order to recenter yourself. Did you know that daydreaming is actually beneficial for visualizing reaching your goals? The emotional release it offers can help you rise above pressures you are dealing with, and help in renewing your passion you had during the honeymoon stage. The authors explain that fantasy is different from your vision, in that fantasy allows you to imagine anything and have fun with it, while your vision is your actually business goals and objectives, so keep this in mind. Another helpful strategy during stage three is to find your secret motivator, something that will keep you going when you feel like giving up. Is this motivation found by taking time to read some of your favorite blogs? Reading your favorite book? Writing in a journal? Explore with the options until you feel comfortable in choosing one that you can rely on to keep you pushing forward.
During stage three, you may have the impulse to just yell out “I quit!” Take a deep breath, you are allowed to feel these emotions and remember many others like you have experienced these similar frustrations. When you sense that you’ve hit a wall with your startup, have an emotional safety net in place. This emotional safety net can consist of your partner, your family, your friends, or your coworking buddies. Make sure that this group is there for you when you’re ready to give up and they can help give you a little extra push to keep going.
Whew! You are certainly experiencing a lot of ups and downs so far with your startup, but think about the resilience you have developed! When there’s a setback, you have learned to see it as temporary and even sometimes as an opportunity. Oftentimes all of these emotional experiences have allowed you to emerge as a stronger individual as you get closer to the next stage of your startup. We will be discussing the final stage, finding your business rhythm, in our next post, so stay tuned! Do you have any questions for us, or would you like to share strategies of your own in overcoming setbacks? Comment below!