You worked many years in a traditional corporate environment, always exceeding your performance objectives and rising to increasing levels of responsibility and authority. But you craved a level of independence and creativity that could never exist in an “inside” position. So you ventured out on your own, full of optimism and certainty that you would succeed.Six months in, after contacting all of the friends and former colleagues who promised to send business your way, you’ve come up dry. What seemed like a great idea at the time is starting to feel like a huge mistake.
If it’s any consolation, you’re in very good company.
Anyone who’s left a corporate job for a start-up business has had their resilience tested many times – especially in the early days of their new venture. Here are a few tips to help you manage and even avoid some of the inevitable pitfalls of solopreneurship.
- Check Your Thinking – You are resilient. You’ve always been optimistic and confident that you can overcome any adversity and succeed. You’ve seen your way over, around, or through just about any difficulty. But the stress of starting a business from scratch can interfere with your resilient thinking, making the new, unfamiliar challenges you’re facing seem bigger and badder than they really are. You might feel a bit helpless and unsure how to proceed. Just take a breath, think about how you’ve worked through similar issues successfully in the past, and come up with one thing you can do right now to solve the problem. Chances are that this will help you get back on track.
- Check Your Perfectionism – You set high standards for yourself. You might be driven by an internal iceberg belief like “If it’s not done perfectly, it’s a failure.”, or “I must get everything right.”. Since you may be the only human resource in your new company, you need to be ruthless about where you spend your time and energy. This is easier said than done, but self-awareness is a good place to start melting the perfectionism iceberg.
- Get Some Help – You have always done well by going it alone. In this new role, though, you don’t have time to figure everything out on your own. And there are people who will be pleased to help you if you just ask. Create an informal Board of Directors. Make a list of colleagues, friends, even family, who can help you navigate the road ahead. Invite them to assist you. You will be surprised by how many will be eager to help.
- Get Some Sales Training – If you are trading on your subject matter expertise in the new business, you probably need to sharpen your sales skills. Effective business development is crucial to your success and is largely a learned capability. Online resources like LinkedIn offer an array of e-learning and other materials that you can tap into. Seek out a proven sales professional in your network and get some recommendations.
- Be Realistic – Most start-ups take years, not months, to achieve a stable, predictable level of revenues and profits. If solopreneurship is truly for you, you’ll need to be focused, persistent and resilient over the long term. This may be the biggest challenge of all.
How have you stayed resilient in your start-up business? Share your war stories with us!