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I recently came across an interesting graphic depicting a day in the life of an entrepreneur. As you can imagine, the line chart of thoughts and emotions was erratic, with data points representing a battery of highs and lows related to business ownership.
At first glance, I laughed because I assumed the diagram was a light interpretation of the struggles entrepreneurs commonly face – which I imagine was her intention. Then I realized it wasn’t that funny, but rather an on-the-spot representation of the awful rollercoaster business owners often experience on a daily or even hourly basis as they run and grow their companies.
The graph was essentially a zig-zag interpretation of wins like “Yeah, I hit this one out of the park!” And the losses, “Damn, I messed this up!” For every positive statement, “Wow, it works!” there was an inevitable backlash. This included the usual rubbish owners and they say when they or their company does not meet expectations. Things like “I’m going bankrupt!” and “Whelp, this is the beginning of the end of my business!” And perhaps most deflating, “What am I even doing? I’m terrible at it.”
The truth is, entrepreneurship is hard. Even the best business leaders commonly struggle with self-doubt and frustration. They juggle hope with expertise. They make big important decisions based on sometimes limited information. They stick their necks out, maybe fail, then stick their necks back in again. Yes, entrepreneurship can be extremely stressful, but so incredibly rewarding.
Related: Why Self-Doubt Can Be Your Secret Weapon
If you’re not comfortable with, or at least open to, the up-and-down nature of business ownership, you may not be cut out to be an entrepreneur. My experience is that most successful entrepreneurs agree with the roller coaster ride. Or at least they used to.
1. Entrepreneurs are optimists
Regardless of those moments of self-doubt, entrepreneurs are an optimistic bunch. They are not naïve, but rather embody the Stockdale Paradox, a concept coined by Jim Collins that states, “You must maintain an unwavering belief that you can and will eventually overcome, no matter the odds, and at the same time have discipline. to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”
While optimism is often an innate personality trait, it can also be nurtured and developed by those who innately lack it. Even natural pessimists can train themselves to become more thoughtful and positive by recognizing negative thought patterns, then actively seeking to replace them with healthier words and beliefs.
If you struggle with mindset, there are many great books on developing optimism as an entrepreneur. I suggest you find one that makes sense to you.
Related: Business owners, put on your own oxygen mask first
2. Entrepreneurs believe in what they do
Entrepreneurs possess a strong sense of purpose beyond profits. While others might be overwhelmed by all those daily ups and downs of running and growing a successful business, entrepreneurs have a massive belief in the importance of their mission. They also readily accept that they will have to overcome very substantial obstacles ahead for their vision to come to life.
Vision and mission are vital concepts for most successful entrepreneurs. Mission is defining the business goals an entrepreneur wants to achieve and the values that will get them there. Vision refers to how the entrepreneur plans for the organization to impact society at large. Both are key elements in how business owners plan to make a positive and lasting mark on the world. Some entrepreneurs call it legacy; others just think it feels like the right thing to do.
3. Entrepreneurs learn to manage their emotions
Unlike the crazy chart I referenced earlier, most entrepreneurs don’t go out of their way to celebrate the big wins or lament the inevitable failures. They understand that both wins and losses are part of the journey they signed up for.
Entrepreneurs also appreciate failure to a certain extent. While no one likes to lose, most entrepreneurs understand that every failure brings them one step closer to success. This goes back to that optimism, but it also reflects on the maturity of entrepreneurs to prevent disappointments from consuming them.
No one ever said the life of an entrepreneur was easy. In fact, it is almost inherently full of ups and downs. But by embracing positivity, purpose, and balance, entrepreneurs are much more likely to enjoy their rollercoaster ride to success.
Related: How Emotions Drive Entrepreneurial Decision Making