How I Face Down Discouraging Entrepreneur Moments
There are times I can see all the moving pieces I’ve been amassing over the past several months settling into place. And I can see FamiliesGo! coming together as a business.
Then there are moments that I’m overwhelmed by the complexity of what I’m trying to do and amount of time and money that it demands—and that I don’t have readily at my disposal—and I wonder if I’m crazy to even attempt this business-owner thing.
I’m working to build a website. Not just a blog, but a complex travel planning and advice website with user contributions, valuable original content, useful tools, associated apps, and multiple streams of revenue.
But those streams of revenue won’t be more than seed money to fund growth for some time and in the meanwhile I need to pay my bills. So I have to carve time out to continue the freelance journalism I’ve done for the past decade or so. On top of that, I have a small child who is in preschool or camp for much of the day but still consumes my attention and energy in the late afternoon and early evening, time I used to spend working.
I’m attempting to accomplish more than I probably ever have work-wise with less time and resources than I’ve had at other points in my life. It’s a discouraging equation, so I try not to dwell on it.
Here are some things I remind myself of when I start to get that aarrrrrgh, I don’t know what I’m doing feeling that new entrepreneurs know all too well.
Everything takes longer than you predict
I had aimed for an April web launch and now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll get it out the door in July, while families are still somewhat in vacation planning and going mode.
But that’s okay. Delays allow time for gestation, evolution, and behind-the-scenes progress. I have more material than I had a few months ago. I understand more about marketing and monetizing. And I’m still steadily building a following on Twitter and Facebook. Losing part of the summer travel season is a drag but the extra time hasn’t been wasted.
Keep inching forward
When I was a journalism student at NYU, legendary New York reporter Pete Hamill came to talk to my class. He told us that a good writer writes every day, even the days when you don’t feel like writing. You can say that same thing about entrepreneurship. I make a point of doing something every day to move the business forward.
Some days there is a major activity and several chunks of copy are written, photos are formatted, and the important emails and phone calls are returned. On other days I might just post some tweets to keep the FamiliesGo! name out there, or add a couple of media contacts to my growing promotion list, or take 20 minutes to catch up on my travel industry news.
I’d like to have video on my website. I’ve read that video is important and I can see the value of it. While I’ve been interviewed on TV, I’ve never put footage together myself. So this morning I asked an actor friend to be my director/camera man. And I asked a FastTrac classmate who is a supremely charismatic public speaker for advice on making a good video. Yesterday I asked a friend who just returned from vacation to review some hotels for the website. They’ve all agreed to help.
People you know want to see you succeed. If they can help you they will. The best way to remind yourself that you have tons of support is to ask for help when you need it.
Small successes matter
I took a moment to waive my hands in the air and say “hurray!” on several occasions: when I signed my web designer and saw the first pages go up, when GoogleAds accepted my application, when my twitter followers passed the 300 and 500 marks, and I got 100 hard-won Facebook fans. And I made sure to mention each one at dinner so my family could say “hurray,” too.
When I file my LLC papers, sign my partner, make the website live, and get my first dollar in revenue, I’ll do it again. I might even stand up and do a little jig or look for someone to high five.
It doesn’t matter how small the milestones are, you have to acknowledge them and give yourself credit for making them happen. It’s the proof I have that I’m not crazy and this ambitious idea of mine really could work.