Leadership Coach Katie Kelley shared how important it is to preserve your sense of self while trying to build your own business, large or small.
Maintain a Separate Identity from Your Business
This is particularly challenging to do when you are your brand, meaning the ‘face’ of your business. But for all the more reasons, it is critical that you develop clear boundaries of time and space where you are not in ‘work mode’ and can just be your non-working self. This is best done by engaging in hobbies or special interests that have nothing to do with your work and expose you to a group of people or an environment that is very different from your work. The goal of this time is to give yourself a break from always being ‘on’ and in a place where you do not need to be in service to others. The question to ask yourself is how are you feeding your soul?
Abide by Your Accountability Partner’s Counsel
Everyone needs an accountability partner. This can be your spouse, your coach, your colleague. Ideally, it is the person who knows you best and sees you throughout your business and life. They need to keep tabs on you and your overall well being as it relates to how well you are maintaining boundaries with your business. You must be willing to accept their feedback, observations and suggestions and not get defensive when you do not like what they have to say. This person unequivocally must have your overall best interest at heart, more so than your business, so that they can wave a red flag when they see you teetering into some unhealthy practices, such as not getting enough sleep, not being present in conversations because you are thinking about your business, for example. One of the most critical mistakes that occurs for entrepreneurs is that they bottle up frustrations and fears and begin to think that no one else has ever gone through anything that they are—like not being able to make payroll, a core client backing out from our largest contract yet, etc.
Envision Entrepreneurship as a Marathon Comprised of Sprints
Many entrepreneurs believe that no matter what we do or accomplish, it’s never good enough. For example, Entrepreneur Lisa Flynn shared with me once she gets to 90% of her goal; she immediately shifts her focus to the next goal because she knows she is going to reach her target. However, this practice impedes her from celebrating her success. It is critical that we stop and smell the roses when ‘wins’ do occur. This helps us maintain perspective on our journey and set good examples for those around us, which is really important. As entrepreneurs, we tend to live in the future - imagining our solution to a problem, building a product or service with the vision of what it will be, planning years out, etc. Make sure to come back to the present from time to time, especially to acknowledge your accomplishments.
Accept that it is Okay to Quit and to Fail
While quitting is often framed as the worst thing an entrepreneur should do, truth be told, it is okay to quit and it is okay to fail. The key is surrounding yourself with the right objective, experienced and supportive community and counsel, so that you know when it is time to re-work your plan and when it is time to walk away. Many entrepreneurs look back on critical moments of their lives after the fact, and are able to see clearly that there were moments when they should have done just that, but were so embroiled in their business or emotionally attached to it, that they couldn’t see the forest through the trees. Failure is not learning from our mistakes, the fact that they happen is merely part of the human experience.