Being an entrepreneur has its own perks and privileges such as time freedom, financial freedom, creative expression, admiration of peers, attraction of the opposite sex [trust me] and celebrity status, thanks to social media. Amidst all these, entrepreneurship also has its own share of woes and challenges.
Yes entrepreneurs are perhaps one of the smartest breeds you can find. Yes entrepreneurs are one of the bravest species around. Yes entrepreneurs are one of the most optimistic thinkers alive. Yes entrepreneurs are one of the most visionary and creative minds in the world. Yes to all these and many more.
Entrepreneurs are NOT superheroes!
Entrepreneurs are human beings.
Entrepreneurs have needs.
Entrepreneurs have weaknesses.
Entrepreneurs fumble, struggle and also stumble.
Entrepreneurs Also Cry!
Trust me, I have been there.
Some time ago, precisely in the year 2010, a relationship of two and the half years fell apart because I chose the road less traveled —entrepreneurship. As painful as this was, I found out I wasn’t the only one who had experienced such.
While discussing with fellow entrepreneurs, I discovered several others who had suffered a break up as a result of entrepreneurship. In fact, even marriage doesn’t shield you from a break up if you are an entrepreneur. Don’t think so? Ask Donald Trump!
So what does this suggest to you as an entrepreneur?
- One, that the unusual journey you have embarked on will test every fiber of your human configuration. The challenges are not only limited to the business domain, it transcends into your personal domain. In other words, being an entrepreneur doesn’t shield you from the imperfections and vulnerabilities that come with being human.
- Two, and perhaps this is the most important lesson, that it’s ok to be human. It’s ok to have doubts, fear and uncertainty. It’s ok to worry. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok not knowing all the answers. It’s ok to be lazy, sometimes. It’s ok to rest. It’s ok to be laughed at. It’s ok to be called crazy, stupid and foolish.
So in this unusual article, I want to lay it bare as I have done previously in the dark side of entrepreneurship to discuss our human side of this unusual journey.
7 Strategies For Coping With The Human Side Of Entrepreneurship
The human side of entrepreneurship refers to those personal struggles you face as a result of your decision to become an entrepreneur. They represent the pains, challenges, experiences, sacrifices and realities that are peculiar to entrepreneurs as a result of the unusual path they have chosen.
So here are some ideas on how you can begin to cope with the human side of your entrepreneurial journey.
1). Accept Your Human Limitations
Stop fighting the fact that you are a human being. The more you do the more frustrations you invite into your already complex entrepreneurial life. Rather, begin to appreciate the limitations that come with being human.
Why? Because it allows you to have a more healthy view of things. It allows you to appreciate how far you have come, how much you have done, and the role others have played in making it all happen.
Knowing that you are limited in some ways, allows you to develop humility. This is a very crucial virtue in your entrepreneurial journey. The moment you begin to think you are all and all, that you know it all, can do it all, then your downfall is eminent.
Knowing that you are limited in so many ways humbles you to accept one vital truth about entrepreneurship; you are just an instrument of nature. Entrepreneurs by themselves can’t do anything except that which nature has permitted to be done through them. Entrepreneurs are vessels of creation. You can do only that which you have been configured by nature to do.
Knowing that you are limited in so many ways, allows you the psychological air you need to preserve your sanity. This is so helpful especially when things begin to go wrong, when everything seems to be falling apart in your life. Knowing that you are human reminds you of the brutal fact that so many things are outside your control or influence. So don’t drive yourself insane!
2). Involve Your Loved Ones
You may be the entrepreneur, but the truth is this; you’ve indirectly dragged your loved ones into the journey the moment you made up your mind to become an entrepreneur. Your loved ones are your family and friends, those who care about you and that you care about.
The day you became an entrepreneur, you’ve involuntarily brought them along this unusual journey. So be upfront with them about the realities that come along with the entrepreneur’s journey. The more they know about your business and the challenges it attracts, the better they can relate with you. Trying to put them in the dark will only further complicate matters.
I must warn though, this decision to involve them has both its good and bad sides. My relationship probably fell apart because of the level of information and transparency I shared with my fiancé then. I made it very clear that the journey was going to be long, tough and slow at first which will demand that we made certain personal sacrifices, especially in regard to our lifestyle.
Looking back now, I am happy I did because it made the decision to leave easier for her. So bear this in mind, involving your loved ones can bring about some sad events because not everyone will want to go along this unusual journey with you. So don’t freak out when they choose to opt out and please don’t try to force them to stay against their will.
3). Embrace Fear, Doubt And Uncertainty
There’s nothing wrong in being afraid, doubtful or uncertain, they are natural human emotions. Like I have written in a previous unusual article, the hidden benefits of fear, doubt and uncertainty, these 3 emotions are only warning signals calling your attention to areas that you would have otherwise ignored.
The only wrong thing is to allow them hold you back from moving forward. They are present in order for you to make necessary corrections and move on. Whenever you want to take a bold step or break out of your comfort zone, fear, doubt and uncertainty creeps in to checkmate your decisions and actions. They are not to be ignored as we often do, they are to be leveraged upon to fine tune your decisions and actions.
I doubt myself several times. I doubt the path I have taken. I doubt the outcome of my entrepreneurial journey. But the thing I never do is allow these fears, doubts and uncertainties to cripple my progress. Every time these 3 emotions arise, I simply say to myself; “Tito, it’s time for some progress evaluations“.
I see them more as reminders of the need to pause and reflect over your decisions, actions and situations as an entrepreneur. They are very good re-alignment tools to help you assess your situation every now and then. Fear, doubt and uncertainty are like alarms that notifies you that something, somewhere is about to go wrong.
Sometimes, these alarms can be false, and other times they can be real. In either case, your task as an entrepreneur is to pause and examine your decisions, actions or situation to find out if it’s real or not. If it’s real, fix it as best as you can before moving on, and if it’s not real, move on. But don’t always ignore these 3 warning emotions. Rather, learn to work with them to your advantage!
4). Balance Optimism With Some Healthy Dose Of Reality
Entrepreneurs are famous for being the most optimistic breed on earth. Entrepreneurs thrive on hope. Nothing is wrong with this attitude, as a matter of fact, without optimism, entrepreneurship would never have been. Optimism is what enables entrepreneurship to thrive in the first place.
How else would you explain the drive of entrepreneurs to create change in the face of market, environmental, and other external oppositions? Optimism empowers entrepreneurs to act on their dreams, to pursue vision and follow purpose.
However, there is such a thing as too much optimism. As an entrepreneur, you must recognize that in life, nothing is guaranteed. The only thing guaranteed is change. Things will never go according to plan. So in your optimism, make room for reality. Don’t allow yourself to be blinded by the hope of tomorrow that you forget to confront the harsh realities of today.
Allow yourself to dream big dreams, take huge steps of faith and plan for the future. At the same time, analyze your current situation in relation to the existing realities on ground and act wisely. Ignoring reality with the hope that your optimism will override facts, will only cause you more harm than good.
Here’s a very fantastic article I read recently about balancing optimism with some healthy dose of reality; 5 ways optimism can crush your launch.
5). Talk About It!
Look, the challenges you face as an entrepreneurial human being are not peculiar to you alone. These are universal issues relevant to all entrepreneurs. The only difference lies in the degree at which we experience these challenges. So stop sucking and start talking.
It annoys me whenever I see entrepreneurs who act like they have figured it all out. No one does, no one ever will. This entrepreneurship journey is a never ending journey till death. So what you think you have figured out today may turn out to be obsolete tomorrow. That’s why you shouldn’t lockup and act like everything is fine.
Speaking out is very therapeutic. The group Alcoholics Anonymous helps people suffering with alcohol addictions heal by simply sharing their experiences and challenges. Transparency no matter how shameful or embarrassing goes a long way to making things better. At the very least, you get to know that you are not alone.
This is precisely the reason I created this site, naijapreneur; as a community to air the lessons, failures and experiences of my entrepreneurial journey while also providing others the opportunity to do the same through their ongoing interactions in the comments section, via email and on social networks.
Seriously, being an entrepreneur is tough, so let’s not just deceive ourselves here ok? I know you can sometimes fall into the illusion that I have figured out this entrepreneurship stuff, to an extent I have. But this doesn’t mean I am having it all rosy or that I am not having challenges or that I am not still in the never ending process of figuring it out.
As a matter of fact, the more I share the more I realize I still have a whole lot of figuring out to do. The beauty lies in the fact that I am not a bystander but like you, also in the journey. So I get to share not only the experiences or challenges of others, but also mine as well. The bottom-line is this; learn to talk about your human side of entrepreneurship openly!
6). Develop A Sense Of Humour
The entrepreneur’s journey is tough already; please don’t make it tougher on yourself through your reaction to events. You can’t change what happened, but you can change what it means. In the course of this unusual journey of entrepreneurship, bad things will happen, expect it. But don’t kill yourself over it; instead learn to laugh over it.
Don’t let the negative incidences you encounter along the way get to you, they are bound to happen. See them all as lessons that you can learn from. If you don’t want to die before the vision comes to pass, don’t be too serious or take yourself too seriously. Shit happens and shit will always happen, to maintain a healthy balance of your life, develop a sense of humour. In other words, learn to see the positive side in every negative event!
7). Give Yourself A Break
You need some regular time away from work. Human beings were designed to also live besides work. The fact that you have involved your loved ones, family, and friends doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make out time for them.
Especially if you are married with kids, learn to consciously and deliberately create family time for your wife and kids. Try not to bring work home unless when it is absolutely unavoidable due to emergencies or deadline.
Take care of yourself by ensuring you take out time to rest and also exercise and socialize with friends. These are self renewing activities that allow you more creative energy to function as an entrepreneur.
Certainly, there are several other strategies for coping with the human side of entrepreneurship. I can’t obviously mention them all alone, so here’s your part to share your own experiences and challenges and also offer some additional strategies you use to cope.
The comment section is below; it is your own platform for interacting with this community of unusual entrepreneurs. I am counting on you to use it!
Talk to you soon in the comments and don’t forget to share with your friends. The buttons to your left are for this purpose, hit tweet to share on twitter, share on LinkedIn or like to share on facebook or google+.