I’ve been on the road, taking my Passion to Profit tour around Australia and again encouraging people to pursue their dreams and get into business! What impresses me most about the people I’m meeting is their enthusiasm. Their belief in themselves and what they have to offer is inspirational, but the truth is that anyone who starts a business or enterprise is going to face challenges at some point. I truly hope the people I’m meeting will be able to maintain their enthusiasm when things get tough. I know they have the talent to do it if they just persevere.
The Importance of Perseverance
I want to write about strengthening the skills and abilities that allow us to keep persevering, even when times are tough. I like what the English clergyman, Charles Spurgeon, said about perseverance: “It was only through perseverance that the snails made it onto Noah’s arc.” What that means is that for some of us the journey will be much longer and tougher, but we can still get to the same destination!
Being Honest with Yourself
I have faced more tough times than I want to remember, but whenever I fall down I get up again. Never forget what Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, don’t stop, just keep going!” The first thing I want to say about developing skills to persevere is be honest with yourself. If you are in a difficult situation, don’t lie to yourself. You must have heard people say that they knew their company was losing money, and going to retrench workers but they never thought it would be them. Come on. If you see the writing on the wall then read what it’s telling you! Do not be an emu and bury your head in the sand. Face up to the worst possible scenario as soon as it appears likely they will eventuate. When you are facing a problem, recognise it! Do not go into denial; that’s not going to help. In the first three months if your business is not generating the sort of revenue you were hoping, admit it. Maybe you will need to take a second job, maybe you need to cut down on your expenses. But acknowledge the problem sooner rather than later.
Control your Emotions
Once you have admitted that you are in a difficult situation, take control of your emotions. On the whole, people are not very good at that. Imagine you are a deep sea diver and you have just discovered you are running out of oxygen. The best reaction would be to stay calm and breath slowly, but a more typical reaction is to panic, breathe rapidly and swim frantically towards the surface. The owner of a business with a cash-flow problem also needs to stay calm and begin a careful audit of expenses, however many business owners react irrationally. They panic, fall into despair and hastily close the business or sell it at a loss. A calm head must always prevail at a difficult time. Rash decisions never lead to the best outcome. Psychologist Al Siebert has studied resilience. He wrote in his book, The Survival Personality, “The best survivors spend almost no time, especially in emergencies, getting upset about what has been lost, or feeling distressed about things going badly…. For this reason they don’t usually take themselves too seriously and are therefore hard to threaten.” Remember also not to spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself in difficult times, instead tell yourself – when the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Take Time to Plan
Okay, you’ve faced the problem and invested some effort towards staying calm and rational. Now it’s time to plan. You need to plan for the best and worst outcomes. Calmly address every possibility, but never believe your situation is hopeless. No matter how grim the situation appears, draw up a plan if things come good. This act alone will rally your spirits.
Aim to stay busy when facing tough times. If your business is not generating the returns you expected, get a second job and run your business whenever you are free. Yes, this will be tiring but there will be less time to sit around worrying or feeling sorry for yourself. When people face tough times they get anxious, scared and sometimes even depressed. If you keep busy you will keep your emotions in check. If you take a second job, you will also continue having contact with others and you’ll be generating some income. This is not a bad scenario. You are setting up your business and following your dreams. This is personally and creatively rewarding. It may take more time to become financially viable than you anticipated and that is okay. Persevere! The politician William Cobbett said, “People fail much more often from a want of perseverance that they do from a want of talent”.
Ask for Help
Do not be too proud to ask for help. Being humble and admitting you need a hand is a sign of strength. If getting your business off the ground means working two jobs, then so be it. Work two jobs, but tell your nearest and dearest that you are hard at it and anything they can do to support you will be appreciated. Accept help. One day you will be in a position to return these favours.
Read about Successful People
Another trick to persevering is to read about successful people and how they dealt with adversity. Remember the rich and famous weren’t always rich and famous. Before their success many of them struggled and struggled hard. Go to the library and find a biography on someone who fought hard to triumph.
It’s essential to care for yourself in difficult times. Eat well, exercise and spend time with friends. See a film and forget your worries.
Keep going with your business and never underestimate the importance of hard work. You will have days when you think you are never going to succeed, but if you persevere you will!
Finally every entrepreneur I know says that the tough times taught them much more than success. Never forget, tough times never last but tough people do!