I think one of the biggest fears people have going into their own precious business is what they’ll look like if they fail, if the business fails to take off and they’re ruined.
We all hear about the amazingly successful businesses that are doing so tremendously well and feel dreadful when we compare our own little business next to them. It’s a horrible and useless experience, even when you are actually making your independent living from your very own business.
Added to this is the anguish of fear and self loathing that comes when we start to realise that our precious dream is falling apart, that we aren’t making money, we aren’t gaining the sustaining traction we need to survive, let alone thrive.
But really, what is that all about? It’s our fears and desires for approval and praise for success that’s driving those crushing feelings but in reality, anyone who harshly judges another woman for giving a dream a cracking good go when she’s feeling knocked around by it simply doesn’t have a grasp on reality or an ounce of compassion within them.
It’s Tough Sustaining a Business
It is bloody hard to sustain a small business, let alone make it into a highly profitable one. And the odds are against you. The statistic of 85% of businesses failing in the first five years remains in place, more than a hundred years after it was initially measured.
I learnt so many nasty truths in my first years of business I felt isolated and misunderstood by many in my old social networks. I grew into a different woman. And in all of this my beloved sister passed away, I certainly learnt who were my real friends then and they are absolutely wonderful.
The amount I had to grow and adapt in those early years was often exhausting and sometimes exhilarating. And in all the years I’ve had my little business I’ve learnt so much about myself. I’ve had to understand what makes me feel safe, what scares me, what gives me emotional and intellectual satisfaction, what I’m good at and dreadful at, what strengths to play to and which weaknesses need to be resolved and which need to be delegated. And why.
Understanding that I constantly need to be learning something new and then becoming good at it was a big lesson. There’s no one else in the business to work through a review with you and discuss what training for upcoming projects need to be done and for them to pay for it. (Oh, what a dream that would be! Ha!!) There’s also no paid holidays.
Looking back now I can see how the times when I’ve needed to focus on family and taken a step back from the business have actually been good for me. It’s given me time to be centre on things other than all that a business constantly requires from you. I was able to keep up with the basics so I could keep doing what I love but it also meant that growth periods were spaced apart.
Going Through Rough Times with the Business
Now I have a very loved and treasured friend going through the horrible experience of realising her initial dreams for her business are taking a battering. She has put herself on the line emotionally, financially, intellectually and even spiritually. She has given all of herself and then actively gone about finding even more of herself.
I’m so utterly proud of what she has done, how she’s backed herself and grown. She is creating a business that is about enriching the lives of others when they’ve gone through a really dark time. And she gets it because she’s gone through the same experiences.
But now it’s tough for her. The money isn’t coming through in the ways she needs it to and she is having to make some very serious decisions about the business’ future and her own. She is deeply scared that she’s failed and that this failing is a hideous mark against her.
I want to hug her tightly and tell her that she hasn’t failed, that it will be all right and she will come through this safely. That she’ll be able to keep her home that she’s put on the line, that everyone will understand and support her.
And you know what, I do believe this. I believe she will find a way to make this work, that it will be different to what she initially envisioned but it will work.
I do believe she will be able to keep her hard worked for home and pay off that mortgage she took out to back her dream. Because I know her. She has what it will take to do this, with or without the business.
Giving a Solid Whack to the Nasty People
But what concerns me is the nastiness of people who simply don’t understand the bravery and guts it takes to do what she’s done and they’ll hurt her with their cruel remarks.
Personally I want to have a go at these stupid little buggers who would rather pull someone beautiful and kind down when she’s scared and fighting for something that’s vitally important to her. Let them try to get through me first before having a go at her. Vicious little shits who know nothing of personal growth, inner strength and courage. But the truth is, they’re in her family and they’ll have goes at her when I’m not there to protect her. She’ll have to form her own shield of defence to protect herself from these blagards. The best I can do is support and love her.
Constantly Learning within Your Business
A big part of the challenge of starting your own business and running it solo is that constant learning curve mixed with all the time-consuming work that’s needed to keep it going at a growth pace.
Everyone accepted without question my pulling back from my business when my family needed me and I needed to be with them. This gave me such a healthy opportunity to return to my business with a fresh perspective and drive that I was able to see it for what it was, with experience and understanding of what’s really involved. And I think that’s exactly what helps a business become sustainable long term.
It takes years to grow a business, more than you think, and having another income can make all the difference.
Taking an Alternative Business Path
To me an alternative path for my friend to take for the next year or two would be to have paid work for three or four days a week so she can steady her finances again, take pressures off, reduce some costs, stop working crazy long days seven days a week and catch her breath. Meanwhile it gives her the opportunity to keep the business ticking over so she can have time and space to step back from it and see it more clearly for the next stage.
At the moment she is feeling beaten up and scared. It’s a dreadful feeling and a horrible place to be trying to work from. But the business idea itself is a good one. She has learnt a tremendous amount and has formed an impressive network. I think it is too valuable to close down and leave. Instead, taking a breath, bringing in more financial stability and giving herself time to take stock will let her recover and be in a safer place to be making long term decisions.
Everyone who has put themselves on the line to start and grow a business will easily understand that you can feel beaten up by the business at times and you need to change things up to take a fresh look at it all. They also understand that a business not working does not mean that you’re a huge big failure in life, as we all fear! It means you’re big and brave, able to learn and grow in amazing ways as well as something quite special.
Small Business Adaptability and Flexibility
Adaptability and flexibility are key to any small business working, just as determination and focus; the trick is in finding the balance that works for you and the business at any given time.
We all need to be kind and supportive to our friends going out on those really windy limbs of self employment. We need to look at what we deem as failure and success and the emotions we put behind it all. There are times when we need to step up and back our brave friends, help take away the hurt of nasty small minded people and get our treasured friends laughing again.
Taking the pressure off a business for a year or two so you can adapt and reassess can be one of the healthiest and wisest business decisions a solopreneur can make.
Offering your small business friends big hearted love and support can be one of the kindest decisions you can make.
What’s worked for you with the different experiences of your business?
Join the Creatively Belle Email Newsletter
Find out about new designs and ranges, latest blog stories and where to find Creatively Belle at markets and fairs with our newsletter.