At least in the early stages of starting a venture.
When entrepreneurs first launch a venture, they are riding high on emotion, excitement and pure adrenaline (and lots of coffee). This rush normally lasts for a few weeks, maybe a few months but then the reality sets in and things get hard. Very hard.
This is the stage that many businesses die in and never make it past. When companies get stuck in this stage, they begin to question their existence; the founders question if the idea is right or if the time is right and employees start to worry about their jobs.
Having brought several companies through these "dark stages," I've learned some powerful questions to ask when things start to get tough:
1. Why did you start the company in the first place?
Having a clear vision for what you want to do with your business and where you see it going is now the norm when it comes to business planning. Often, though, these visions are thought about a lot in the early days but get tucked away and never reviewed again.
These visions should be the guiding framework for every critical decision and without them, you can be running without clear direction.
Getting back to basics can allow you to remember the early days when you were just starting out, and the excitement levels were running high. Circling back and reviewing your initial reasons for starting the business can help give you that extra kick to put your head down and keep working through the challenges.
2. Am I viewing my problems corrected?
Stoicism is becoming a hot topic theses days in startup circles and while traditional stoicism can be confusing, the concept is that instead of looking at your problems and challenges as roadblocks, you should view them as obstacles that you can learn and grow from.
When growing a business, you're going to have problems, and you are going to have challenges. If you get too caught up and negative with these issues, it can have a very negative impact on your decision making.
Instead, anything your company faces should be viewed as an opportunity to learn something valuable can be used in other areas of your life and business. Asking this simple question can reframe your struggles and get you back on track.
3. Am I focusing on what matters?
As a business grows, so do the tasks lists of the founders. While in the early days with a small team, these tasks could be easily managed a few hours per month, as more employees come on board things quickly get out of control.
These endless task lists that seem never to go down can weigh down on entrepreneurs and eventually lead to burnout. When things get tough, it's important to take a step back, review what you are doing each day and determine if it's what matters and can be the most impactful.
For example, If you're worried about making payroll, that blog post can probably wait. If you're concerned about growing your team and finding A-players, maybe you shouldn't spend all day in strategy meetings and should devote more time recruiting and interviewing.
Getting focused on what can have the most impact is how to overcome scaling challenges of all kinds.