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 optimistic when your company is struggling?” is written by Ron Ben-Zeev, CEO of World Housing Solution.
Launching a startup can suck, as it’s often a long and lonely journey. However, feeling alone is optional. Regardless of what stage you’re in, guiding a business can be like riding the Great American Scream Machine: thrilling, scary, and best experienced with the right people surrounding you.
What I have discovered in my life as an entrepreneur is that most business owners are amazing liars. You ask them how they’re doing and the answer is always, “I’m doing awesome.” They’re grinning while saying, “Life is great. I’m living the dream,” all while bill collectors are calling, clients are firing them, and employees are burned out.
Entrepreneurs don’t just become optimistic; it seems that optimistic people become entrepreneurs. You try to remain optimistic throughout the tough journey because it’s something that’s inside of you— not just something that you find. It’s an innate characteristic of most entrepreneurs I meet. They believe in themselves and put all of their energy, time, and resources into solving a problem until they’re emotionally, financially, and psychologically spent.
One of the unfortunate truths about being an entrepreneur is that for some reason, we feel that we can never admit we are struggling. We are cursed by the “fake it till you make it” syndrome and “come hell or high water, pretend all is good” mantra, even when we’re struggling to make ends meet and are arguing with our partners. We will never admit defeat while working through the hurdles; only afterward will we tell you what a tough ride it was. This is just part of our nature. But should it be? Entrepreneurs must continue to be optimistic when approaching new endeavors and interacting with other individuals, but must also stay honest with themselves about the hardships they face.
Rely on support
It takes a village to make your business a success. Everyone must be on board. There is a woman by the name of Meg Cadoux Hirshberg who wrote a book called, For Better or For Work. She is married to an entrepreneur and talks about her journey, detailing how difficult it was for her as the spouse and the mom, supporting her husband while he was moving along in his journey.
It’s not if you’ll have a mental breakdown, but when. People say, “Business isn’t personal,” but it is. If one person suffers, so does the other—you can’t separate them from each other. There are going to be good days and bad days. Successful entrepreneurs quickly learn how important it is to maintain a strong support system. The team you surround yourself with, in the office and at home, is your backbone and its members are your biggest fans.
Find a problem that resonates with you, and then find a solution
Forget the “how” and the “what,” and instead focus on the “why.” To paraphrase author Simon Sinek, if you have a great “why,” then the rest will be easier because you will have found the energy to drive forward no matter what happens. That is also what will resonate with your team, investors, and customers and separate you from your competition. When you’re struggling, sometimes the only thing holding you together is the reason why you started. Don’t forget the passion that led you to pursue the solution. It’s harder to fight for a cause or even a career path that you don’t fully believe in. Sometimes the only thing propelling you forward is the confidence you have in your solution; don’t lose that. If you don’t believe in your cause, they never will.
Lastly, surround yourself with great mentors and remember to pay it forward when you become successful. Many successful entrepreneurs become caught up in their own journey and forget to lend a helping hand to others. It’s difficult to build something from the ground up without support and guidance from others. Now go out there and make a difference. And if you need help, ask for it. We are listening.