When I started my business, I remember thinking it was going to be a challenge. I anticipated late nights grinding away, hitting the (digital) streets day after day, sweat and tears, baby! It was all very Rocky-soundtrack glamorous. And I was confident that I was up to the challenge. I had already survived law school and working as a legal clerk, how much harder could an online business be?!
Fast forward a few months and I had just finished a webinar that had 4 attendees. I had just launched a product and didn’t know how to get anyone to buy it. I felt demoralized, confused, overwhelmed and like a total failure. Whatever kind of “hard work” I’d been expecting when I started my own business, it wasn’t this kind of hard work.
Don’t get me wrong, law school and working as a law clerk was tough, but it was predictable. You go to class, you study your ass off, you stay up all night, you hustle to get internships and then repeat that for a couple years. Same with being a law clerk. The path to success was clear. Show up early, do your work, know your shit, be prepared to give up any shred of personal life and sleep.
It takes serious backbone to survive in that environment, and I think that’s why so many people who have thrived in difficult professions (doctors, lawyers, Phds, corporate leaders, etc) are drawn to starting their own businesses. Because, honestly, how much harder could it be?
The problem is that the path to success is not clear when it comes to your own business. You can’t just show up early and do your work and hope it will all turn out great because news alert: it won’t. Putting in hours doesn’t equal getting customers. Hustling doesn’t mean you’re making smart decisions.
The skill-set you used to succeed in the traditional professional world is only half the battle in the entrepreneurial world. What you need to thrive as your own boss is the ability to let your faith in yourself be bigger than your failures. To feel confusion and doubt
When I work with clients who were successful in the corporate world, what I notice is that when they don’t immediately get the results they want, they take it as a sign that something is wrong. If it’s hard to launch a new offer and things don’t go as planned, they start to doubt the value of the offer. If there are too many stumbling blocks, they want to give up. They get frustrated when their hard work doesn’t directly result in success.
The other day I said to a client: “you left your day job, but you kept the cubicle mindset.”
Here’s what i meant:
- You are still looking for external validation and now there’s nobody to give it to you
- You’re used to being a top performer and now you’re starting from scratch and you hate how that feels.
- You want a neat recipe for profit, like if you work 40 hours a week then you’ll get paid. Sorry, in this world of doing your own thing, you might work 100 hours and get $0 and then work 10 hours and get $10K. This isn’t an hours game.
- You’re avoiding risking your ego by allowing yourself to be seen (especially if that “being seen” means somebody from your former career might see you doing a Facebook Live…I get you, I’ve been there).
- You can’t accept the confusion and lack of direction that is inherent in being a visionary. Employees get to have clear “job duties,” not bosses.
If this is you, listen up: that cubicle mindset is just getting in your way. Leave it by the water cooler and the HR department. You don’t need any of that shit where you’re headed.