Starting your own business is tough work. You’re on the front lines. You’re pursuing your passion. The line between “who you are” and “what you do” is closer than those that are employed by others. A business failure for an entrepreneur feels an awful lot like a personal failure.
You want that dream life—setting your own schedule, traveling the world, reclaiming your weekends, making good money. But, instead, you’re constantly stressed, working around-the-clock, and scraping to get by.
If your business feels like that much work with little ROI, chances are you’re working way too hard. It’s not that you’re not good enough or not capable; it’s just that you need to work smarter, not harder.
3 Reasons You’re Struggling As An Entrepreneur
Here are three reasons you’re trying way too hard in your business—and how to actually make it a lot easier:
You’re trying to please everyone.
This is the classic entrepreneurial dilemma. You’re convinced that if you create a great product everyone will love (i.e., the iPhone), then you’ll have a huge market opportunity. So, you try to make your product or service accessible to the whole world. Except nothing is ever universally adopted on day one — not even the iPhone.
Good brands are always hyper-focused on a specific niche. Your job isn’t just to attract right-fit clients and customers; it’s actually to actively repel wrong-fits too. If you’re trying to be accessible to everyone, then you’re not being special to anyone.
Bold brands initiate bold action. People will either buy immediately or run the other way—and that’s a good thing. If you can communicate your offering in a strong and decisive way, then you create an opportunity for your ideal clients or customers to become early-adopters and then for them to spread the word to the rest of the world.
You’re measuring success against someone else’s metrics.
In the age where anyone with a laptop can start a company, and where “disruptive technology” has become a cliché, there’s no clear-cut way to define success. Money, power, and fame are not the only currency anymore.
What about time? Or meaningful contribution to the world? Or sustainability? Or fun? In the modern era, there is no blanket definition for success. So, you need to understand what matters most to your company and build your entire strategy around it.
Maybe you have a good financial runway and it’s more important for you to build up your prominence than it is to directly make cash right now. Maybe you’ve just left a life-sucking corporate job, and time is what you most crave. Maybe you’d rather build slowly to ensure you can donate a portion of each sale to a charity of your choice. Any version of success is fine; you’ve just got to define what it means to you and your business.
You’re letting obligations outweigh passions.
There’s no shortage of obligations when you run your own business—you’re an accountant and a CEO, a marketing team and a sales manager. But, if you’re so wrapped up in the have-to-do’s then you’re not spending enough time on the passions.
Remember, that’s why people are hiring you (or buying from you) in the first place. Not only do your passions light you up and help you overcome burnout, but they also inspire and excite your customers and clients.
So, drop or delegate any obligations that aren’t totally necessary. Maybe you can hire an intern. Maybe you can find yourself a virtual assistant. Maybe you can do a trade-off or partnership with another company to procure their services. And, more often than not, you don’t actually need to do all of the administrative tasks you’ve been pushing on yourself. Being focused on just a few is a much more realistic strategy.
When you are working on your passion more than your obligations, you’ll be able to infuse your excitement, your life force, your genius right back into the business. Nothing will feel like you’re working so hard because it will be so much fun. And your business is bound to grow exponentially.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Mike Iamele is author of the provocative new book Enough Already: Create Success on Your Own Terms (Conari Press 2015), which takes a critical look at the dysfunctional pressures of modern success and leads readers through a powerful journey to create a new kind of success on their own terms. After recovering from a debilitating illness, Mike gave up his high-powered public relations career to find his own version of love, success, and happiness. As a regular contributor to national publications, as well as through his popular weekday success blog, Mike has encouraged millions of people to reject society’s blanket definition and create success for themselves. Connect with @mikeiamele on Twitter.
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