Entrepreneurship: The Nasty Truth They’ll Never Tell You About

And 3 tactics to keep yourself out of the trenches

Owning a startup is the most adjective-filled endeavor in the world. It’s more than the rollercoaster ride they tell you about. And in the beginning, it’s a lonely journey laden with some of the lowest of lows before reaching the highest of highs. It’s not for the temperate. It’s for the mad. And if you don’t have even a little bit of mad, you should get out now.

You’ll have freedom they say.

Yes, the freedom to choose how you spend your days, months and years. You’ll have the freedom to decide where to invest for your small business and the freedom to take risks and calculate your odds of return. You’re betting on yourself and your team. But with that freedom comes a world of extreme darkness and relentless uncertainty. This, I’ve found to hide itself in the corner of the room. It lurks, and often appears at the most inopportune times. It feels like a pressurized cell, waiting to explode and completely dismantle even the strongest of wills and determination. At times, it’s a hidden, nasty and repulsive freedom.

You wonder where the next paycheck is coming from because the company needs it. You think, “If I don’t keep investing, how will we make it? You try your damnedest to pay your monthly minimums to find out that the accruing interest is demolishing any progress.

Your whole life seems to be in the red. Exhaustion is paramount, and you lose your temper. You push away those who matter most searching for any outlet to pin your fears to. The anxiety is slowly killing you. You ask yourself why you’re even doing it when the time you have on this earth is counted. It’s pulling you so far in the direction of finding something “normal” that, for a moment, you think that’s the answer.

The fight and the grind has always been the easy part. A friend and mentor, Mike Holiday, Director of Golf at the highly esteemed UMCC in Clifton, N.J., borrowed a quote from Arnold Schwarzenneger and said, “the wolf climbing the hill is hungrier than the one on top.”

1. Find a mantra, and live by it.

This quote is often times the only thing that keeps me going. I think what separates the great from the good, or the successful from those who fail is finding some form of comfort in the resilience of never giving up.

I don’t like the word failure. Another mentor, Scott Mahoney, Chairman & CEO of Peter Millar, has told me to remove it from vocabulary.

2. Purge Negativity 

Remove words and people that tighten your chest, raise your blood pressure, and elicit bad emotion. Jim Rohn, a renowned businessman once said, “You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” You’re already in the fight of your life, why would you spend time around people who criticize, demean, or take the can’t do attitude? If they don’t support you, (or don’t understand) get rid of them. The people who actually matter will be in your life no matter what. 

When the odds are stacked against you, you have a decision to make: do you lie down and fold, or do you stand up & put your shoulders back, stare the demon in the eye and keep pounding?

3. count your blessings

Robert Herjavec, world-renowned star on the ABC hit series Shark Tank mentioned, I try not to say, “I have to do an interview today, or I have to come to the set, or I have to go to work. I try to say, I get to do this. I work my ass off for the privilege of being this busy.” 

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Photo Cred: Entrepreneur

It takes a soul tough as nails to be doing what you’re doing. You should be grateful that you GET to stay up until 2AM running analytics for an AB campaign. You GET to spend countless hours researching growth tactics, listening to podcasts, and optimizing your sales funnel. You GET to test new strategies and find solutions to roadblocks.  

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, the message applies. Everyone has goals, and everyone has struggles.

And what sets you apart from the herd is taking one more step when the rest of the world is giving up. 

Here’s to holding on for as long as it takes. We have some incredible things in the works for this year that we’re really excited about.

-DLG