Recently I went through a little entrepreneurial funk.
I know I probably shouldn’t admit that in public, but if we’re honest, we know everyone has them. If you’re anything like me, this thought process probably sounds familiar:
Crap. I don’t know if I’ll pay the bills this month.
I’ve worked 18 hour days every day for a year, but I can’t pay my freaking bills.
What’s the best thing I can do right now to make sure the bills get paid?
Damn! I don’t want to spend all my time only thinking about the short term. I have dreams…and goals…and and and…!
Screw it. What’s the point?
At this point, you’re wondering if your mother was right and you should get a “real job.” Oh, the peace of a regular paycheck, semi-normal work hours, and that long lost thing called a weekend.
I’m not going to tell you to suck it up and keep going. Maybe you’re not cut out for this. Maybe you should do yourself and the rest of the world a favor and find that nice stable job after all. Hey, there’s no shame there, even if we like to glamourize entrepreneurship to the point of it becoming unrecognizable.
I’m not going to tell you to keep chasing your dreams, because this is gut check time. This is when it’s time to really ask yourself, “Do I have the stomach for this?”
What’s your risk tolerance?
This is where you factor in all those people who matter to you. Do you have a spouse and kids? Are their needs being met in some way, preferably that doesn’t involve massive debt?
I’m not saying parents can’t be entrepreneurs, even struggling ones. I’m a single mom, so this is the big question that really hits home for me. My conclusion is that the future I’m building for my kids outweighs the struggles of the present.
But, that may not be your conclusion, which leads to the next question…
What’s your big picture–and is it worth it?
Do you have a long term goal? Or are you just wanting to “be an entrepreneur”? I promise you, being an entrepreneur for its own sake is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Take some time away from the daily grind and really define your goals–concrete things you actually want to accomplish. At the end of the day, will those dreams provide a payoff that exceeds your current struggles?
If not, maybe you should consider a new path, at least until you can define a long term goal worth chasing.
What do your advisers say?
I’m very lucky to have smart business partners who care not just about our business but about me and my family. When both of them consistently said I should not give up yet, I knew they were seeing the bigger picture I was missing.
Talk to people you trust, who know you and your unique situation. Listen to their advice, and when things seem darkest remember that they are probably seeing the pieces you’re missing.
How sleep deprived are you?
You might think this is out of place, but trust me. You don’t want to make major decisions on a sleep deprived brain.
Do whatever is necessary to get a few nights of consistent sleep. Melatonin works wonders for me, and everything starts to make more sense when you catch up on sleep.
What does your gut say?
And, then sometimes, you can’t quantify your thought process. Sometimes the answer is to simply follow your instinct. During my most recent funk, my instinct was to keep going, even when fear was telling me to stop.
If your instinct is to take a break or even stop altogether, go with it. You’ll be happier, healthier, and saner than the rest of us.
Going through hard times is never fun. But, it’s almost always a gift in disguise. Walking through the dark days will reaffirm your passion and vision, making you more confident the next time you struggle.
Or, it will be a big red flag that says it’s time for a new path.