I thought I knew what I was in for when I took the leap to become a full-time entrepreneur. I had read all of the books, taken online courses, and spent hours upon hours reading expert blog posts on entrepreneurship.
“What I didn’t know was this: I was signing on to feel an acute sense of daily panic — all day — every single day.”What I didn’t know was this: I was signing on to feel an acute sense of daily panic — all day — every single day. At first, I thought I was merely decompressing after leaving a cushy job with a steady paycheck. However, slowly, but surely, I realized this anxiety was following me around and coloring my ability to think clearly and get things done. I wondered why no one had warned me about the fear and anxiety that many startup founders face. I had read all about “resistance” and “growth” and other nice descriptors people had used to describe the experience of becoming an entrepreneur, but really what the headlines should have read was “panic”, “terror”, and a “constant sense of impending doom”.
My Search for Startup Wisdom
But what was a girl to do? I was committed. I had left my job, set up shop, and told all of my friends and family that I was pursuing my passion. There wasn’t any going back. I knew that if I didn’t figure entrepreneurship out, and quick, I was definitely going to have trouble getting my business off the ground.
So, I started asking other entrepreneurs to learn what they had experienced. As a fellow entrepreneur, I feel it is my duty to pass on the wisdom I learned along the way:
You will develop tolerance.
Over and over again I was told that entrepreneurship gets easier. Not because the work gets easier (though that happens as you build momentum), but because feeling uncomfortable will get easier. You will build up a tolerance for the unknown, the resistance, and the growth. You will build confidence in your ability to figure it out as you go and land on your feet.
You will develop new associations.
In The Power of Habit, Pulitzer Prize–winning business reporter Charles Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed. Duhigg suggests that when developing any new habit, you have to create new associations, new rewards for doing the work that is in front of you. As an entrepreneur, the only way to experience a new reward, is to do enough work that you eventually experience a win. The practice of building successes, one upon the other, will change your perceptions around the work because you will begin to associate achievement with the tasks on your list. Soon, pitching that story, writing a guest blog, and asking for financial investment, will no longer be associated with the fear of failing, but with the possibility of success.
You will let go of things that don’t serve you.
You will learn that sometimes the feeling in your gut isn’t discomfort — it is intuition. With time, you will know the difference and then you will be able to identify when to let go of the things that don’t serve you … things that aren’t your strengths or your path. This is the art of being an entrepreneur and something you hone over time.
Now don’t get me wrong. Knowing these nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom will not magically make the resistance go away, but they will reassure you that it is all part of the process. You will be stronger for buckling down and seeing your dreams through to the finish line.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Wahida Lakhani is a Digital Strategist who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and well-known brands in an agency setting. Her company, Digital in the City, provides online marketing classes for modern entrepreneurs who want to take their business and life to the next level. Digital in the City provides free monthly marketing kits that help to simplify online marketing, get yours here. Connect with @DigiInTheCity on Twitter.
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