How to keep going as an entrepreneur!

Updated: Feb 6


Valentina has been running her own practice for the past six years successfully as it seems. In those six years she's been through...

1) building a business in parallel to her “day-job”; 2) dealing with the impostor syndrome; 3) experiencing levels of tiredness she hasn't felt before; 4) felt isolated; 5) questioned if she's an “entrepreneur” at all, if everyone is doing tech and she isn't; 6) she had more people than she could count who didn’t think what she was doing is a good idea; 7) felt embarrassed when she first posted a picture of herself on social media as “the face of the business”; 8) fought with family around “chasing rainbows” instead of living a comfortable life; 9) she was consistently NOT understood by the wrong audience and still felt it was somehow her fault...

According to her, the list can go on and on, but at the end of the day, the process and experience turned her into one of the main consumers of her own product!


See what she has to say and benefit from the 5 items any entrepreneur should understand!

"I “sell” coaching and psychology. I sell my personal belief as well as knowledge that if you, me or anyone wants to achieve significant goals in their lives, they need to dedicate substantial amount of their attention into improving and building on their mind-set.


I also work with the very people who already have reached great levels of personal and career growth, which mostly makes them self-reliant, proud and believing they really don’t need anything, let alone a psychologist or a coach. Self-help literature and autobiographies should be enough, right?

Now, being able to apply what I know on myself and get to the 6 years mark as well as successfully demonstrate to many high-fliers that results indeed depend on psychology, gave me the inspiration to share the main lessons supporting me and which can be useful to you.

1. DO NOT ALLOW PEOPLE TO GIVE YOU ADVICE OR FEEDBACK IF IT'S NOT YOUR CALL & DON'T ASSUME ASKING FOR IT IS A GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE!


The reason why I am starting with this is simple. I consider it a crucial piece. Rarely ask for advice and feedback and only ask on specific items, NOT on your idea(s).


In theory different perspectives are a great way to improve on something and consider facets which you didn’t before. In reality, however, the tone of voice, the glances, the eye rolls, the negativity in shape of practicality - it all becomes part of what you ultimately get and it can hinder: 1) your confidence and ... 2) your ability to create something better and different to what others can come up with.


The idea behind feedback and advice giving is that there is “room for improvement”, if we are to express this in a politically correct way. The non-politically correct one is that we ask for criticism which is not rarely, truly constructive. All of us have opinions about everything and we live in a society where being critical is a trait of intelligence. But remember that you don’t need this ingredient in order to succeed.


And yes, of course, the type of project or business you are developing, as well as the type of personality you have determines to what extend feedback is welcomed BUT in 100% of cases when I’ve worked with entrepreneurs, they believe they NEED to ask for feedback because it’s a good business practice. Consciously considering WHY feedback is needed or WHAT it aims to achieve is not at the forefront of the process.


I personally ask for advice only when I know I've done all I can and when I'm happy with a particular end result. If I don’t like my output yet, I don’t need advice yet either. In other words, truly, deeply and honestly rely on your judgement.

Finally, feedback is great if you are dealing with a smaller scale piece of the whole puzzle. If you have a presentation coming up and you are preparing or your website is ready and you’d like to publish it now, or when you can’t choose an accountant - that’s when it’s great to have the opinions of others! Less room for hurting your belief and mojo!

2. THE IDEA THAT 'LACK OF MOTIVATION' DOESN'T GO HAND IN HAND WITH "SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS" IS WRONG!


Frankly it’s also very burdening, especially to those who are just starting. Constant, 100%, unstoppable motivation at all times and in all circumstances does NOT exist!


What you can do when you lack motivation, and this is what helps me when I hit a tough period, is this:

Imagine you are a sales person at a call center.Your job is to keep calling people from an endless list of contacts, and those same contacts reject what you are selling 99.8% of the time. Yes, you’d probably hate it, but because it’s your job, you’d still do it for 8hrs as per contract agreement.


That’s the non-sexy aspect of “grinding”. In those 0.2% is where your success lies! Some days, when you don’t feel like you have any motivation just keep going and don’t even wait for motivation to appear.


Results motivate, lack of results demotivates.

The companies that base their entire business models on the 99.8% rejection rate are still thriving! They wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

3. HAVE HEALTHY, BIG CONFIDENCE!


The confidence question is a tricky one because it touches on moral understandings about what makes us good people. We want to be confident but not too confident. The “too confident” aspect, we fear, will make others dislike us.


Now, I won't lie - you won’t be everyone’s favourite at all times. And yet, you still need to be that bit extra confident in order to survive the inevitable criticism and doubt which are a part of the entrepreneurial journey.


The "fine line" between being arrogant and having big confidence is in fact not that fine. From my perspective it’s actually quite thick and well recognizable. All you need to do is value yourself, your capacity and your beliefs. Go just a bit beyond your comfort zone in terms of expressing your truths and steer clear from neglecting or dismissing others.


Demonstrating this type of confidence will sometimes make people cringe but here is another important thing to understand:


If this happens, it's very often because others are not confident enough in themselves and an association with someone like yourself triggers the fear of being rejected or disliked. Be considerate but remember that it’s not really your issue to deal with.


How does 'big confidence' look in real life?

Example 1:You are in a meeting, everyone is talking about complex stuff with complex terms. You are lost as you haven’t been part of that group before and you don’t use the same vocabulary (yet). The confidence appears when you find the strength to stop the conversation and ask what you need to ask in order to understand exactly what’s happening and become a productive part of the group.

Example 2: You are facing a person at a high position, vocal, almost aggressive. S/he talks fast, appears knowledgeable and is definitely an insider to a situation or a place. They may talk a lot but you are not getting the answers you are after. Big confidence is to still stick to your agenda, return the conversation to there it needs to be and address the items you wanted. It can involve interrupting the person, changing your own tone of voice, etc.


Finally, 'big confidence' is not isolated only in work-related situations. It is imperative to really internalize it and have it in you regardless of context. If you see a social injustice, disagree with the opinion of an authority, have a different view to that shared by everyone – stay strong, speak up and don’t avoid conflict at all costs, if it’s not the right thing to do. This is an attitude that will pay off in business.

4. HAVE COURAGE TO GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AGAIN & AGAIN!


We are all creatures of habit and habit in our ideas is no exception. When you are developing your own thing, you always have a starting point (ideas) as to why you are doing it and what you are after. We'd like to think that these very same “whys” and “whats” are constant but in reality they are changing dynamically!


There is no rule of thumb about how long a “why” lasts.


In other words, you have to keep your reasons of pursuing something current and you have to remind yourself what those were if you forget. Going back to the drawing board is an exercise I do almost monthly. Every time I face doubts, fear, lack of motivation, I go to my drawing board and start re-drafting everything.


Why did I start in the first place?; Do I still want the same thing(s); Is it all still relevant?; What makes me want it now?; What needs to change, etc.

It may turn out that you don’t want to continue in the same direction at all and that’s not something you should be afraid of. If a particular course has truly exhausted itself – be it.


If, however, you give up just because you didn’t re-assemble – that’s effort gone to waste.

5. GET RID OF THE SAFETY BLANKET & EXIT STRATEGIES WHEN YOU CAN

People become a lot more resourceful when they are in circumstances that don’t give them the option to bail. If, however, you are the one that controls the ‘no bailing’ instead of circumstances, your personal ‘why(s)’ become much stronger. At the right time cut the cord. I'll be honest and say that I haven't been a great example of doing that. I wanted to have the security, the money and the stability, but also build my business and not take any risks.


It took me a while let go of the safety blanket and for me the push was a mixture of circumstances and personal choice. By going back to my drawing board I saw I wasn’t where I wanted in my personal life and it had started to hurt real bad. This made me make the conscious jump.


If you want to fly you have got to let go of the ground beneath you. AND YET, even that jump is not the “end all, be all” – it’s just a moment and you can land later, just at a different place.


I hope those 5 mindset items help you find strength and reason in trying times.


Respect & Keep going! Ina.


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