I am in a much better mood today than I was a few weeks ago. Today and this week, I actually had a few things go RIGHT, without having to do a lot of hustling, fixing, scrambling, tap-dancing and yelling. I can assure you, that does NOT happen often. So goes the life of an entrepreneur…
I believe this is why a number of MSPs and IT services businesses I’ve worked with don’t grow and stop trying – they get beat down and crushed under a daily shit storm of problems, bad employees, vendor failures, cash flow and profitability falling short, sales and marketing difficulties, people not doing what they promised to do (and get paid to do), having to manage people and projects they shouldn’t have to manage. NOTHING is easy.
On top of that – and mostly because of it – you’re constantly behind and working like a madman to catch up, constantly having to stop and fix the same stupid shit over and over again, constantly having to start over from square one, constantly having the same BAD Groundhog Day you had last week, last month, last year. I get it. There’s a reason why less than 2% of the population is a business owner with a payroll. It’s damned difficult.
Truth be told, every so often I’ve got to talk myself out of just saying, “Screw this,” and quitting, particularly as I get closer and closer to my “enough is enough” number. When I get into a black mood like this, here are two things I keep in mind…
The first is acknowledging that EVERYONE trying to run and GROW a business has the same (or worse) problems. Know this: If you don’t wake up and secretly want to quit every once in a while, you’re not doing much of anything.
I’ve met and had the opportunity to spend time with people earning multiple millions a year who have a high net worth. People you may think have it all figured out. I can assure you, they don’t. They are not waltzing through their day with Zen-like tranquility and the superpower of having it all figured out. Like you, they are awash in projects, deadlines, obligations and things they need to get to, behind more than they are ahead, all the while being tripped up by employee problems, marketing problems, client problems, regulatory and legal problems, cash flow and profitability problems, competitive problems and operations problems.
Why do you think my symbol for “work” is the humble orange cone? Because all businesses are constantly under construction, with dirt, debris and messes everywhere.
I’m agitated by the fact that many of the “gurus” you see with their best-selling books and coaching programs are complete and total fakes selling their “Look how easy it is for me” BS. You have to realize this is part of their shtick – convincing you that it SHOULD be easier, and the only reason it’s not for YOU is because you don’t have their magic blueprint or “secret” to making millions while doing very little work, taking lots of vacations, lounging by your pool sipping your perfect margarita while your adoring spouse and well-behaved children look adoringly upon you, your bank account automatically growing. Nuts.
If you constantly compare yourself to some ideal like this, you’ll be deeply frustrated, chronically disappointed and tempted to continuously second-guess yourself and every decision you make. You’ll also be tempted to waste time searching for solutions that don’t exist anywhere, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.
Does that mean you should just accept misery and failure? Not at all – which brings me to the second thing to keep in mind: This isn’t about the times you feel like quitting, it’s about the times when you DON’T.
I’ve learned that no problem is as bad as it initially seems. Running a business IS tough – but so are you. Give yourself some credit. You probably have a hell of a lot more going right in your life and your business than you have wrong. Yes, you can improve, and you should. When problems hit you from all sides, choose to look at them as lessons to learn from, exercises in developing mental fortitude and emotional strength. I love to learn, so choosing to see this as something to puzzle out gives me a healthier perspective, a renewed sense of purpose for dealing with the inevitable shit storm head-on, lamenting, “Why does this always happen to me?”
It will never get easier for one simple reason: YOU are an ACHIEVER. You’re never happy because you’re always doing more, accomplishing more, setting a higher goal. Where ever you are today is NOT okay 1 year from now. You’re constantly thinking about NEW ideas, NEW initiative and making things better than they are today. That’s what makes you smarter, more driven than the average bear.
That said, never roll over and accept anything intolerable by telling yourself, “That’s just the way it is,” but DO have some realistic understanding of what work is, what it takes to succeed in running a profitable, growing business and how wealth and financial success are made. Choose to take pride in the difficulties, long hours and hard work. Heck, be glad it’s tough; otherwise you’d have a much bigger pool of competitors to contend with.