We previously wrote an article on advice that you would give to First-time Startup Founders and decided to follow up with the best advice for entrepreneurs who are struggling right now.
Scott, Startup Mentor – Struggling is part of the process of becoming successful.
The struggle is part of entrepreneurship. It should be a struggle to achieve something big. It should be really, really hard. There should be a high chance of failure. It should be really stressful. There should be many times when you are not sure if you are following the right path. It should be filled with heartache and rejection.
… and those are some of the fun parts
Entrepreneur is freakin’ hard. It is difficult. It can be overwhelming. It is not for the faint-hearted.
While being entrepreneurial should be for everyone, being an entrepreneur (starting a company from scratch) should only appeal to a tiny minority … many of which have some sort of social dysfunction and difficulty working for others (I put my younger self in that category … I have mellowed a bit as I got older).
And guess what, the struggle is part of doing anything great. Think Steph Curry doesn’t struggle? He acts like he doesn’t … but it is an act. He constantly has to push himself more than everyone else. He needs to work harder than everyone else. He needs to practice like crazy … run drills until it HURTS.
Doing something hard has serious risks. Some people who change the world ( Martin Luther King, Jr. , Mahatma Gandhi , Abraham Lincoln , etc.) end up paying the ultimate price. And yes, their lives were defined by struggle — much of which they never overcame.
Of course, being an entrepreneur is also a lot of fun. In fact, the struggle itself can be really fun if you have the right attitude. And many of these new accelerators have been designed to significantly reduce struggle. But without the struggle, there would certainly be a LOT more people starting companies.
Ronnie L, Entrepreneur
I was struggling in 2013, I quit my high paying job to start a Web design business with $40,000 savings in my bank. I was extremely confident. The money disappeared in under 1 year into the entrepreneur life. I had only $1000 in my account and I know after paying this month’s rent my account goes down to $200. I cried many times. I didnt tell my friends or family and they all thought Im doing really well. Is that the struggle you are talking about?
If yes here’s what you have to do.
** How to completely Stop the Struggling **
Quitting the entrepreneur life and going back to a job is tough. Thats the heart of an entrepreneur. We don’t give up, right? Right. But successful entrepreneurs know when to quit. That’s exactly what you have to do. Because when your mind is busy and when your heart is raising at night and not letting you sleep peacefully, you simply cannot focus on building your amazing business. You are money hungry and you stop focusing on doing quality work. That doesn’t help you or your business.
** What exactly you have to do **
Find the type of job you were doing before you get to this situation. Do that job and get your life in order. Its important that you get a similar or higher position job. Don’t apply for lower positions compared to the previous jobs. When entrepreneurs struggle their confidence goes down. Don’t let that happen. Try hard to go to a similar job to what you were doing before. Then in 3 months start your entrepreneur life on the side again. You then learn niche marketing which is the backbone of any successful business. You then build it to a level that the business income can replace your salary. Then you jump out again. But this time you are smarter and more experienced. You know that money is important and you work harder than ever before, Then you come in strong and become successful.
** Keep this in mind **
Once Richard Branson said;
“Don’t jump and start building your parachute. Build it first and then jump”
I knew this quote before I jumped, but I wanted to see it myself and I saw it. 🙂 All the best. When I was through the depressed time I turned to online communities for help. It helped but no one was able to give any constructive guidance.
Maria, Self-Employed Entrepreneur – I can speak for the new-age entrepreneurs and here are 5 tips for those who are struggling right now.
I’m answering for a different demographic of entrepreneurs–twenty-something-year-old bootstrapped small business owners (it’s a bit embarrassing answering something a few Titan entrepreneurs have already answered, but I hope it helps even just one person). After all, not everyone is a $50million round C funded company^^
Fall back on everyone and everything for support. If you have parents who support you, either by living at home or cheering you on, lean on them as much as possible. If you have a supportive girlfriend or wife or husband, feel free to completely spill it out. If you have a dog….
Pray. Not everyone has faith in God or Jesus in my case, but people, even some of the Titans on Quora, have faith and pray, to something. It’s not weak to believe in a higher power. It’s respected. It’s necessary to balance and cater to your spiritual side.
Break down and curse at the sky and even yourself…not at your employees or loved one. Sh*t hits the fan, your client is pissed, your employee made a major mistake, your product just unfurled a ball of problems like a hairball out of a cats mouth…yell and scream and let some steam out. Just not around earshot of anyone you care about.
Look at your bank account religiously. Count every dollar. Literally. If you can afford to save $1, as trivial as it seems, do it. This should remind you you are in survival mode, Bear Grylls style. Let that mentality stop you from buying chipotle. Go buy some chicken breast at Walmart. Need a new car lease? Go for that Hyundai Accent. Who cares what you drive when you need to make money?
Accept your emotions look like the stock market. When you’re in survival mode, you’ll have some great days and the WSJ will talk about recovering last weeks losses. Next week it’ll publish about how there’s a new low. This will be your heart. Embrace how human and fickle we are. Seriously, it’s human nature.
I’m still just 1.5 years in. I do all of these things. I did them today. Tomorrow I can be a puddle of a mess, but you just keep going. Brace yourself and if you can, remember that you will never get this moment back. If you don’t enjoy it, what a waste of life, right? That’s what I remind myself everyday.
Robert F, Startup Founder – “Stop calling yourself a Struggling Entrepreneur”
Entrepreneurship is such a beautiful passion out there. Do not do it if you are not ready to take the challenges it brings along. If you are terming struggles to not having business then you are not an entrepreneur!
Its one thing to have a validated business model which generates revenues and its another thing to be lazy to validate the business model!
You need a lot of efforts and definitely hard-work. Don’t give up. Wait for about 2–4 years at-least, look back and then do a thorough review about yourself and the business model that you are trying out. If things are still not going favourable look at exit!
Ups and downs are common, whats life without them right? During the dark moments appreciate the brighter moments and when your ego flaunts a lot during the bright moments remind yourself about the dark ones and stay as humble and simple as you can.
Jerry, Successful Owner of Several Entrepreneur Ventures
WRITE – write about your journey. Your struggles, challenges, victories, failures, road blocks, solutions, problems, hardships, little wins, inspiration, goals, everything that matters to you. Most importantly, write about your experience because one day you’ll be successful and you must always remember that your journey wasn’t an easy one.
READ – read about other successful entrepreneurs. If you read their biographies and autobiographies and you’ll realize that all these great men did in-fact had a lot in common in their struggles, thought process and motivations. You’ll definitely know if you’re on the right path.
DON’T STOP LEARNING – there is no benchmark in terms of skills and experiences that guarantees success in today’s world. Everytime you feel you know everything, you’ll realize that there’s always a bigger fish waiting to grab your lunch. As an entrepreneur, this is the most productive task you can do (after sales) that will definitely help you succeed!
For struggling entrepreneurs, this is a sure shot way to become a better person personally and professionally.
Jason – Just do it with no questions and find a mentor who is willing to help.
What is the best advice for struggling entrepreneurs?
Get on your mode of transportation and go. No questions, “Just do it” as Nike would say. Now you may think I’m crazy for making such a suggestion in response to this question however, it actually is an illustration of what I see many struggling entrepreneurs doing. Metaphorically speaking, many struggling entrepreneurs are getting in their mode of transportation/business, and going. They have no road map/business plan. They are not asking for directions/advisors, mentors, or coaches and they don’t know where they are going with their business. Now maybe this illustration does not connect with you so let’s try another one.
Maybe you are familiar with the horse and buggy concept. I understand they still use them in New York, and other places around the globe. Now, get in the buggy and go. Now again you may be thinking this guy is crazy, a buggy by its self, will go nowhere and you would be right.
Yet many struggling entrepreneurs metaphorically speaking are getting in their buggy/business without a horse/product and expect to go somewhere. And just like the previous illustration they too are lacking a road map/business plan, direction/mentors, advisors and coaches to help them get to where it is they think they want to be.
I am currently working with two entrepreneurs with issues. The most common issues I have to deal with are the lack of organization due to not having a written business plan. Many struggling entrepreneurs approach business the same way they approach life, without any real planning. They take a “Field of Dreams” approach to business thinking, “If they build it, success will come.”
Then feel frustrated when it does not happen. One of my clients owns a high-end luxury women’s fashion business, has been in business for 35 years in a very prestige’s location, however recently moved their business and is now looking to expand into marketing their products online to increase sales. One of the issues I am addressing is “What they want” vs what is best, what the customers want, and how to attract business to their new location.
Here is one example of how this has a negative effect on entrepreneurship. As this client has operated for 35 years based on what they wanted, they failed to stay competitive with changes in technology, and the way people shop.
While I have made several suggestions regarding ways to satisfy this client’s needs, their “wants” keep getting in the way preventing them moving forward. In this case the client has a written business plan however it is extremely outdated. Now the owner is second guessing themselves on everything wasting both time and money.
My other client has just started down the path of entrepreneurship with a Video Production Company. However, they have not been able to move forward due to a lack of entrepreneurial experience, organization, discipline, and planning. While this struggling entrepreneur has training in video production, over the past three years has been unable to create a portfolio of work, or organize their business due to inexperience and training in business. Part of their training is introducing them to business management and administration as well as having them work on creating a video portfolio. Yes I am also having them write a business plan to help them organize and manage their business.
I commend both these struggling entrepreneurs/founders for having the courage to seek help and I am deeply honored to be able to help them. Many struggling entrepreneurs are struggling most often because they are putting the cart before the horse jumping into business without guidance, advisors, mentors, and written business plans. Every entrepreneur’s situation is unique, and there are those who suggest that a written business plan is unnecessary.
Due to entrepreneurial laziness, many will forgo this process and end up learning from the school of hard knocks, which can be very costly. The only time I would suggest that writing a business plan in not required is when purchasing a franchise and that is because when you purchase a franchise you are also purchasing someone else’s written business plan for your business. In addition, many franchises also have a mandatory training course for franchise owners to attend.
The best piece of advice I can give to a struggling entrepreneur is to seek help. Seek out mentors, coaches, many advisors and write a business plan.
Marcel, Startup Founder – Delegate the work and make sure that you do not struggle on your own. Join online communities and join the conversation.
You don’t have to struggle on your own.. it’s probably the #1 source of struggle for entrepreneurs.
Sure, I believe that everything is figure-out-able. But not everything should be figured out by you. How do you know what to spend your time on (aka your most valuable resource)?
Well, you do, and you don’t.
Part of you knows what you should focus your attention on – the Driver (your rational side).
Part of you is letting you get bogged down in details – the Elephant (your emotional).
That expression “the devil is in the details” – so true! There is so much to deal with. As my friend Bill Belew pointed out, “if the devil can’t stop you from doing something good, he’ll give you so much to do that you don’t do anything right.”
It’s a dance you need to master.. between focus and big picture.
So what can we do?
Ideally delegate – if you can’t hire full-time employees or bring in partners, look at ways to outsource or get VAs. Here’s a video where I talk more about how to get your time back –
Other times connect with like-minds – call it masterminds or just simply finding sounding boards via a Facebook group.
Just don’t struggle alone!
Gina, Startup Founder – Sometimes, you need a break.
I stopped recently my first startup so I believe I have some credibility in this matter.
The best advice is “Take a break and look at your business and at yourself. If you didn’t have money constraints, would you continue the business? if yes, start with the Target Group and the problem this target group has that you are trying to solve. Did you really nail it?”
When a company is struggling, most of the time they have a target group/benefit issue. Cash flow issues exist of course, but those can be solved, a benefit issue (the lack of it in particular) can’t be fixed. You can through money at the problem (Advertising) but you will never succeed in the long term.