One of the reasons I love writing this blog is I get to share my experiences as a business owner with other business owners. And hopefully in the process I can help others to learn from my mistakes and find a smoother road for themselves.
Well, the road for me over the last few weeks hasn’t been exactly smooth. I think the best description for what I had was a reality check, maybe even a panic attack. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I quit my corporate career in July 2014 and a few months later started Peer Business Consulting. In comparison to most things I’ve done in my life, this was a pretty impulsive decision.
The first few months were a whirlwind, setting the business up, finalising my business plan, creating a website, and finding my first few clients. Then I learned a little more and got a few more clients. I was feeling confident and invincible. But then the rush suddenly stopped. It was March and no matter how much cold calling and networking I did, no work was coming.
“Despite all the startup prep and research I had done, I just wasn’t ready for how isolated I would feel. As a very social person, this was most hard to take.”
Then I went into a state of panic. Is this what my life is going to be from now on? Constantly scrounging around for new business, going to endless networking events, having coffees with everyone I can think of hoping they would appoint me or refer me to their clients. This constantly feeling of performing and “being on”. It dawned on me that one of the most important skills I needed to succeed in my business was to be a great salesperson.
But I don’t like selling. I’ve never been very good at it. Add to this the feeling of isolation and loneliness, which has been very pervasive for me (as a home-based sole trader). Despite all the startup prep and research I had done, I just wasn’t ready for how isolated I would feel. As a very social person, this was most hard to take. I suppose I suddenly felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and was starting to regret my decision. I started looking for a job, impulsively.
Then I re-read some of my old blog posts and some other motivational blogs I follow and here’s what happened. I picked myself up and kept going. Yep.
These especially are the things that helped me most:
1) It takes time to build a business, and six months is really not that long.
2) This won’t be the first reality check/panic attack I’ll experience. If Richard Branson gave in to his doubts, he wouldn’t be where he is today.
3) I re-read my blog article from February When to quit your job and go freelance and remembered my own advice!
- Try not to panic – you have your fall-back plan.
- There is no shame in trying something out and failing. At least you tried. I truly believe that every experience in life is an opportunity to learn something new.
- Trust that good things can take a bit of time. Stay true to your business plan and trust that it will happen.
- There’s usually help around the corner – in the form of a friend, partner or business expert – so make sure you reach out to them rather than suffering alone.
- And finally, this one came from one of my business colleagues: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”.
4) I reconnected with my support network. I organised lunches and fun events with family and friends. I met up with friends in business and confided about how I was feeling and found that they had felt the same way many times in their business’ lifecycle. These things went a long way to remove those feelings of loneliness and I suddenly felt light again and ready to enter the next phase of my business journey.
Have you had similar feelings during your journey as a business owner? How did you overcome them? What techniques worked best for you? I’d love to hear about your experience.
* Images sourced from Unsplash.
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About the Author: Angeline Zaghloul is an expert in business strategy, client management and business processes, and is the Principal of Peer Business Consulting, a Sydney-based consultancy providing strategy and operations support to startups and small businesses.
* Portrait by Markus Jaaskelainen.