Running a business is, by definition, demanding. Dealing with investors, employees and the general public whilst trying to build a solid reputation. Most of the time, we are able to rationalise our negative experiences, but occasionally, some comments can bring us down.
One of the most important qualities is to develop a positive mindset, focusing on what’s going well. To live like this consistently and avoid getting bogged down, there are several proven strategies we can employ.
Don’t take it to heart
Firstly, we must recognise when we are reacting emotionally, rather than logically. This can be evidenced in thoughts such as: ‘Why did this bad thing happen to me?’, ‘I never hurt anyone’, or, ‘What that person said is so unfair .’
In business, we can’t afford to take everything personally. We don’t always know what’s motivating people to react negatively.
As difficult as it is, we must accept that business is tough. Not everyone will play fairly; some will even break the rules intentionally. As much as we’d like to focus on our financial objectives, future plans and goals, often we end up managing our emotions, dealing with inter-relational issues and navigating difficulties.
This is a scenario that the Mikkelsen twins have grappled with, on several occasions. Rasmus Mikkelsen and Christian Mikkelsen, Co-Founders of Publishing Life, run an online education business that teaches regular everyday people how to replace their 9-5 job by creating passive income with self-publishing.
Commenting on the personal challenges that can emerge occasionally, Rasmus says: “Sometimes, we’ll get messages where people don’t agree with our opinion or don’t like our easy-going nature. I used to get offended by their criticism and felt like I was doing something wrong. Now I’ve learnt that you can’t make everybody happy. The bigger you get, the more often you’ll see this. But the truth is, for every 1 person that is unhappy, I’ve made 10 other people happy. So I focus on that instead.”
Christian adds: “We always look forward and focus on our goals instead; things like this just don’t get us down. We’ve developed a new identity in the last few years— a more emotionally mature version of our younger selves, especially as the business has grown and we’ve taken on additional business responsibilities. Now we are both happily married, and focused on achieving our business goals to provide for our families.”
Reframe the events
As an entrepreneur, when confrontation arises, whether it’s a disagreement with an employee or a bad review in the press, it’s vital to be able to defuse the situation and de-escalate a potential flash point. One way of doing this is to reframe your thoughts and feelings. Begin to look at events from a fresh perspective so that they no longer evoke the same negative response.
For example, instead of focusing on how angry a comment made you feel, you can try to imagine what motivated the behavior. The key is compassion. How upset must the person have been at that moment? What events must have been going on in someone’s life to make them so angry or combative?
By changing the narrative, and viewing events from a different angle, your emotions can start to change. Not only will you recover faster from drama, experiencing less cognitive drain, but you’ll also be able to turn your attention to more pressing matters like your business success.
Rasmus comments: “Not everyone is going to react positively to everything you do. That’s just life. The trick is not to fight fire with fire: you have to empathize with others and try to understand what might be going on inside them. Why are they acting this way? Are they being driven by hurt? Is this coming from a ‘positive place’.”
Use negative events as a springboard into your future
It’s a common misconception that our business lives would be better if we didn’t have problems and setbacks. The opposite is actually true. You need a little bit of resistance and a little bit of difficulty to energize you, focus your efforts and make you more resilient.
Think of the analogy of rubbing your hands with sandpaper. If you rub too hard, you cause your hands to bleed. However, if you rub it just a little bit every day, you will soon develop tough, impenetrable calluses.
The Mikkelsen’s have certainly learned from their experiences over the last few years and have been able to turn that resistance and difficulty into a growing business. For them, there is no ‘secret’ to success; it is the ability to stick with something long enough to reap the rewards.
Christian adds, “If only people would do the hard work, and not just give up when things get tough. The perfect example is our business. We focused on one important thing for years, rather than dabbling for a few months and then trying something else. You see new trends all the time and instead of jumping on the bandwagon, we knew the future was in digital publishing. It’s not a “sexy” opportunity like crypto, but it’s an emerging market that’s here to stay and is growing each and every year.
Focus on life’s essentials
He continues, “Adversity has a knack of stripping away what is unnecessary, unhelpful or untrue. When you’re faced with problems, you rethink your values. What do I believe in? What do I want to achieve?”
It seems inevitable that every seasoned businessperson will go through the fires of adversity: a process that burns off the dross of uncertainty and indecision and reveals a clarity of purpose. Some call it your ‘life’s mission’ or ‘calling’. In a business setting, this is invaluable. Knowing what you’re good at and how you can add value is the key to reaching your highest business potential.
What does it really mean to be an Entrepreneur?
We see that word a lot, especially in the business world. Entrepreneurship is an idea that is often tied to the concept of the American dream. An individual chooses to put their head down and work hard to open a business and are now reaping the benefits of investing their time, money, and energy.
For those of us who have a job in the traditional sense working for a company that we do not own, the idea of becoming an entrepreneur can be both exciting and intimidating. Not everyone is built to start a business and pour their soul into helping it grow and become their main source of income. So what does it really look like to be an entrepreneur in 2022?
Betting on yourself
Anyone who has started a business themselves will tell you that the key to success is believing in yourself, as cliche as that may sound. With all of the responsibility of the business falling on your shoulders, there is a lot of weight that you have to carry. Figuring out the product or service itself, marketing the brand online or through your network, and handling the logistics of owning a business are just some of the tasks that will fall on you. Depending on what industry you are in, you may need to take the time to be certified, especially for some trades where a license is required. Getting through “impostor syndrome,” or the belief that you do not have what it takes to achieve your goals, will be key to creating long-term success, but this is only possible if you truly believe in your abilities and your business.
Assuming all of the risk
The scariest part of being an entrepreneur is the inherent uncertainty. Will your business be successful? How long before you start to turn a profit? Will this business be able to support your livelihood both in the short term and in the long? These are questions that you will undoubtedly face as a business owner, especially early on. All of the risk associated with owning a business is yours. The best way to manage this risk is to seek assistance in the areas that you feel uncomfortable in. Don’t understand how to keep track of clients and invoices? Research the best software to help you. Having trouble with taxes? Hire a tax professional to work through the details with you. There will likely be aspects of owning a business that you will not even know exist, so be sure to do your research.
Reaping all of the benefits
While there is significant risk associated with entrepreneurship, there is also the possibility of success. In the event of success with your business, you will reap all of the benefits of your growth. Whether that means achieving financial independence, or simply living out a purpose and feeling fulfilled, you receive the full reward as the owner of that business. This is what most entrepreneurs keep their focus on and what gets them through the long hours and extreme investment of their assets. They look forward to the day when they reach their financial or personal goals, which makes the whole journey worth it.
The freedom of choice
This factor is especially evident with the wave of new businesses that have started since the beginning of the global pandemic. A huge number of workers have filed applications for new businesses in the last few years, with over 551,000 applications in July of 2020, a huge jump from similar time periods in years past. That trend has continued into 2022, with many workers leaving their regular jobs in order to pursue entrepreneurship. One of the main draws is the freedom of choice. You can choose what type of business to run, what product or service you will sell, what your company culture will be, where to allocate resources, and even what hours to work. People may have left previous positions for any number of reasons such as low pay, feeling undervalued, poor management, long hours, or simply burnout. By starting a new business, an entrepreneur has the freedom to customize the role to suit themselves. Even if there are long hours, the feeling of self-determined fulfillment can override the difficulty of running the business.
Entrepreneurship should not be taken lightly
As stated before, becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Even if you come up with a great idea for a product or service, you may not have the capacity or the drive to turn it into a thriving business. It is important to spend time in reflection and doing research before taking the leap to make sure that you understand what you are getting into and what it will take to be successful. Lay out your goals, come up with a plan, seek outside advice from people who know you and professionals in the field you are interested in, and then make a decision. If you choose to go for it, then be ready to defeat that impostor syndrome.
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