worryAt the risk of stating the obvious, being an entrepreneur is very difficult. We got into it because we wanted to make more money doing something more meaningful and not having a boss to tell us what to do, but making money took longer than we expected, sometimes we’re not making as much of it as we’d like, and we realize that not having a boss telling us what to do also means that there’s no manual we can follow and we always need to figure out what the next step is.
Don’t get me wrong: being an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding. I absolutely love the work I do, I’m excited to come to the office every day and I’m more proud of the work we do now than I’ve ever been working for somebody else.
They say that entrepreneurship is like a rollercoaster: one day you’re at the top, the next day you’re at the bottom. One day you sign a great client, the next day you lose a great client. So, what do you do when things aren’t going the way you want?

Ask for Help

In my early days as an entrepreneur, when people asked me how the business was, my answer was always “great!”, whether we were doing great or not. We do this because we want people to perceive us as successful. After all, who likes doing business with a company that is struggling?
But the reality is that all companies struggled at one point or another. Even the most successful ones.
When you’re struggling, the worst thing you can do is try to deal with it by yourself. I’m not suggesting you should blog or tweet about how much you’re struggling, but take a few business owners you trust out for lunch and tell them what’s going on. Ask them for feedback and advice. Not only will they guide you in the right direction, but they’ll also help you understand that what you’re going through is absolutely normal, the price of being in business.
Dealing with struggles solo is not being a hero, it’s being proud and arrogant.

Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing It

One day I was feeling like “F**k this, I’m done with this BS!” I was ready to quit. A friend of mine helped me realize I had lost touch with my purpose. In other words, I forgot why I was doing it in the first place. If money is your main motivator for being in business, when shit hits the fan your first instinct will be to quit, because in the first few months (or years) in business it’s hard to make enough money to justify how hard you’re working.
When I started thinking about the reasons I was in business, I started becoming excited about it all over again. I understood that while money is important to me and I do need to pay my bills like everyone else, I was running my own business because I value my independence and free time above everything else. I understood that I was helping companies be more successful and feeding several families with the salaries I was paying my employees.
When I stopped thinking about money and started thinking about the impact I was making, my attitude completely changed. But that’s why I am in business. Why are you in business?

Spend Less Money than You Make

One of my mentors once told me “the only way to have fun running a business is to spend less money than you make.” At first I was like “duh, tell me something I don’t know.” But, after our meeting it became obvious to me that this was exactly the source of all my stress: there was not enough revenue to pay for all the expenses we had. We had to make some painful cuts but within a month, we went from a profit margin of negative 5% to a positive 12% and all my stress melted away instantly.
If your annual revenue is $5MM and you’re aiming for a 10% profit margin, it means you have to find a way to run your company with $4.5MM. It really is that simple (which doesn’t mean it’s easy, by the way.)

Accept Reality

One of my best friends was complaining today about the weather not being as nice as he wanted and he was all bummed out about it. But you can’t change the weather, so the solution is simple: accept that there will be sunny days, cloudy days and rainy days. As long as you expect every day to be sunny you’ll be disappointed and unhappy.
Entrepreneurship is difficult and when you solve a problem a new one arises. Forget those stupid books that promise you could make $50,000 a month working four hours a week. It’s a lot harder than that. All you need to do is adjust your expectations. If you accept the fact that you’ll have good days, OK days and bad days, there will be no surprises and you’ll make the most out of each day.
Stop buying into the idea that one day everything will be perfect. Instead, be thankful for what you have and keep working on making it better. It’s the only way to make it work.