Most entrepreneurs start off passionate. The idea of creating and building up your own enterprise is thrilling, and since most new business owners get involved in an industry with which they're already intimately familiar, it seems like the perfect recipe for satisfaction. This passion is vital for entrepreneurial success, as it keeps you motivated, focused, and happy with your work. But unfortunately, that passion is going to be challenged--many times--as you face various obstacles related to your work. Your ideas will be tested, your assumptions will be overturned, and on many occasions, you'll wonder whether your business has any chance of succeeding in the long term.
How can you maintain your passion in the face of such adversity?
Maintain That All Setbacks Are Temporary
First, you need to understand that all setbacks are temporary (at least in some way). There aren't many single events that can dismantle your business entirely, and even if one does, that doesn't mean you'll never become an entrepreneur again. You just have to pick up the pieces, decide what your next venture is, and run with it. But don't get ahead of yourself--chances are, whatever issues you're facing can be solved. It may not be fast and it may not be pretty, but it will be temporary, and you will get past it.
Find the Humor
Every situation has a bit of humor to it--you just have to find it. Doing so can help you remain calm in an otherwise panic-inducing situation, and will help you put your problems in perspective. For example, let's say you've lost a major client due to an inability to meet their performance standards. You can joke around with your teammates about the mistakes you made while simultaneously learning from the situation. It makes the proverbial "pill" easier to swallow.
Depression and loneliness are strikingly common among entrepreneurs. Why? Because they have nobody to talk to, and precious little time to do it. They pretend they aren't experiencing hardship in an effort to preserve the image of the solid leader, but end up bottling up all their feelings (which isn't healthy). Find someone you can talk to--maybe it's a friend or a family member, or maybe it's another entrepreneur. You need some human connection to help get this off your chest.
Identify the Silver Lining
Almost any challenge, no matter how hard or unexpected, has some kind of silver lining. For example, take our "lost client" scenario from earlier--this could actually give your team a chance to recover, while simultaneously teaching them a lesson about their performance. It also gives your business an opening that you can fill with an even bigger, better client. To some, this may seem like a layer of pointless optimism, but there's a practical component to identify; any setback has some kind of lesson you can walk away with (if you know to look).
Take Time for Yourself
When you're completely invested in a business, you don't get much time for yourself. You spend countless hours at the office, and even when you're away, you end up thinking about work. When the business is struggling, this puts you in a constant state of stress, so take some time for yourself, away from the business. Take a personal day, and shut off all forms of communication. Allow yourself to decompress, and do some things you actually like to do. It will help you feel less stress and pressure, which will help you think clearer about the situation.
Remember Why You Got Started
Take a moment to think about why you got started in the first place. Was it to make lots of money? Probably not, but if it was, you can rest assured there are plenty of other economic opportunities available to you. Was it to hire and lead a team of people you respect and get along with? You still have that. Was it to navigate the landscape of entrepreneurship so you could walk away with a great story to tell? You still have that too. You'll find most of your motivations are still intact and still relevant--despite whatever adversity you're facing.
Consider Your Other Passions
Chances are, entrepreneurship isn't your only passion, but it's been the only one you've focused on for the past several months. When you start feeling additional pressure or facing new obstacles, it can consume your mind. Instead of letting yourself drown in this, step away for a while. Consider what else you're passionate about. Are there other entrepreneurial ideas that have taken a backseat to this one? Sketch them out in greater detail. Have you spent less time volunteering? Spend some more hours getting back to it. This is a way of hedging your bets and distracting yourself, but most importantly, it's about putting your business in perspective. It isn't everything to you, even if it feels that way at times.
With these strategies, you'll find that maintaining your passion is not only possible, but manageable. It's hard to keep control over your emotions, especially in such volatile straits, but challenges and obstacles are a natural part of an entrepreneur's reality. As you become more experienced as a business owner, you may even find that adversity strengthens your passion, and builds your resolve rather than challenging it, because as many seasoned entrepreneurs understand, they're what make the realization of success so thrilling in the first place.