The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you stay inspired to run a business?” is written by Karen Young, founder of Oui Shave.
You’ve heard the phrase, “No man is an island,” but running a startup can feel like the loneliest job in the world. Even CEOs with large teams can feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. I’ve turned to meditation in the past to boost my spirits, and while the benefits are immense in their own way, by year’s end I was still burnt out. This year I’ve added a unique support system, and the results are like a boost of adrenaline to this tired entrepreneur.
In high school I ran track and field, and without fail, I ran fastest when I neared my teammates cheering and screaming my name from the bleachers. I remember seeing them from the corner of my eye, hands cupped around their mouths, motivating me to run my best race. For that last stretch I was a winner, even if I didn’t place.
In a race, your support is like having the wind at your back. Think about it. We play team sports. We join support groups. We form friendships. We’re social creatures who thrive in supportive, community-based environments. Yet, when we venture into entrepreneurship, we often attempt to shoulder the burden of stress, loneliness, and anxiety all by ourselves, falling back into the island mentality.
So here’s my super trick: I simply text my family and friends every time I have a business win. I like to refer to them as my “cheering section.” With a young startup, I’m always on overdrive, and the wins are all too easy to gloss over. Worse yet, I often bypass the wins to concentrate on the next milestone. It’s human nature to think about how far we have to go before we even acknowledge how far we’ve come. But not acknowledging your accomplishments is actively participating in defeat. In that moment, you’re essentially saying, “I’m not worth it.”
Now when I experience a win, I text my group. It’s a small group, but a group nonetheless, and I’m soon flooded with congratulatory tweets, heartfelt Facebook (FB) notes, and encouraging calls and texts. Add a few emojis and I’m on a high for the next few hours.
You may wonder what to do about the other times—the tough times when you have no idea if you should keep going, if you’re making a difference, or if you’re putting even a dent in your goals. I’m a firm believer in different types of support systems, including a network of other entrepreneurs to turn to. With Facebook groups, meetups, entrepreneur organizations, and startup events, it’s hard to miss an opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs. I’m a part of a few groups and have seen entrepreneurs be incredibly brave and open in a space they feel understood. On Facebook, in particular, some admit difficulties and ask for advice, entrepreneur moms ask how others find balance, and a few post their wins (showing sales figures, even) as encouragement.
Having a network also teaches you that you actually do know what you’re doing, and you can help another ‘trep in his or her journey by sharing that knowledge.
It boils down to one word: community. We all need it.
I’ve been promising to write a monthly newsletter to my cheering section, but I’m still working on the most elusive element of entrepreneurship: time. For now, texting is easier, and who can’t stop to feel the love when your phone is flooded with heart emojis?