Whether setting out to build your own business from scratch, change professions or carve out a career path that’s out of the norm, you go in eyes open and prepared for a hard slog. Even more so given economic conditions which are not set to make such bold moves any easier for the foreseeable future. Picturing what lies ahead – the risk, the unknown, the hard, hard work, the sleepless nights – is a critical part of the journey anyone embarking on such a move goes through. Where would the reward be otherwise? What satisfaction would you feel if you’d not been through the angst, playing out scenarios in your head and preparing for tough, challenging times. And, for some of us, where would the fun be?
As much as anyone could, I readied myself for this and went for it. What no one could have prepared me for however was facing and coping with the reactions of my nearest and dearest when that lucky break still hadn’t happened and stability (let alone success) still wasn’t quite in sight. I’ll never forget the first time one of my oldest and closest friends expressed not just concern but doubt. Nor the time those painful questions came from my own parents. “Are you sure you’ve done the right thing? Maybe you should consider doing something else in the meantime? Perhaps you shouldn’t have gone for such a big change?” These people have never doubted me like this before. Having never been much of a risk-taker until now, professionally or in other aspects of my life, that stung even more. It felt like they were questioning what’s at the core of me as a person – because anyone building their own business invests head, heart and guts into it.
And how can you blame them? Those exact same doubts and questions would go through my head, were I listening to someone in the same situation who I care deeply about and whose best interests I have at heart. I know exactly why they’re thinking what they’re thinking, and I get it. I’ve not questioned myself as deeply and harshly as this ever before either. Having invested head and heart in the business I created with my business partner, my heart sinks when I face these reactions. But then out of nowhere my gut feel kicks into action. Which brings me to the full body Entrepreneur’s Workout.
Like Boxing, the head gets a regular beating, working hard to process the many “I’ve never done this before” questions that are thrown at it. The heart goes through similar endurance challenges, the equivalent of a marathon in many ways, wondering if you’d done the right thing starting out on your own. But at the same time yearning to veer away from the beaten track and follow what it was in the first place that pried you loose from your safer, more straightforward career path. Meanwhile in the background the entire time your gut-feel is constantly at work, combatting the questions and self-doubt, telling you to stay true to your values and keep going with what you set out to achieve.
I can’t claim to naturally having super-strength gut feel though. I’m just lucky. I’ve had an extraordinary business partner with me along the way for support, reminding me why it is we’re doing what we’re doing and why it will work. That support has been invaluable, and then some (a million thanks to you fellow co-founder, I’m hugely grateful – you rock). As well as realising how important gut-feel is, this experience has given me a whole new respect for the individuals who brave it alone – as well as relying on your head, heart and gut feel, that quite simply takes incredible balls. Whatever the initial outcome, being brave enough to try to do your own thing is a success in itself. And the rewards – if not in this instance in another – will follow.
Featured image by Jérôme Lautré