Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When the going gets tough, the tough listen to Grandma!

I was saddened today to get a phone call from a friend who started a business of her own 2 years ago.  She lost her job during a round of downsizing and hadn't been able to find a new one.  Her business was growing slowly, and was making enough that, along with her husband's disability, they were making it.  But it was a struggle for her to work her business, care for her husband and family, and still have any free time left for herself.  Her husband has continually pushed her to give up her foolishness and go get a "real" job.  Then all of a sudden her computer crashed and needed to be replaced.  Since her business was online, her computer is essential.  But before she could get a new one, her car broke down.  Then her roof started leaking.  And then her youngest son became ill.  The money she spent on these meant there is nothing left for her to spend on replacing her computer.  And so she is giving in to circumstances and pressure and beginning a search for a "real" job.  Her disappointment and despair were so evident in her voicemail, it made me want to cry.  And so I promptly called her back with some ideas and encouragement.  "Don't give up!", I told her.

If you read my posts and articles with any regularity, then you know I have gone through some STUFF in my life.  But my grandma always told me that God would never send me more than I was able to bear.  Remembering, that I would sometimes utter a prayerful "Why" but then determine that there must be a reason for whatever was happening and even though I may not understand what it was at the moment, I was secure in the knowledge that I would get through it.  And so I would pick myself up, dust myself off, and move forward.  Sometimes slowly and painfully, sometimes with purpose and determination, but always with the knowledge that I would prevail in the end.

The same thing can happen in your business.  Everything is moving according to plan.  Your business is growing, money is coming in, you're gaining more recognition and with it more clients and then - "BOOM".  Something explodes and when the dust settles, it leaves you wondering what happened and where do you go from here. 

An unexpected business setback can leave you questioning your own abilities to be an entrepreneur.  Maybe you really aren't cut out for this.  A nice secure job with a steady paycheck may be your destined path.  It can make you wonder if all the naysayers who told you your idea wouldn't work were right.  Maybe they know more about this than you do.  Perhaps you should listen to them and just give up. 

When I was going through some of the more difficult experiences in my life, I often wished there was an easy way out.  But the price for giving up was always so high that it was never really an option.  But in business, often you can just walk away.  You tried, it didn't work, now you're finished, no harm done.  But here too, the price for giving up can be more than you realize.

You started your business for a reason.  It may be due to the need for additional income.  Or, as in my case, circumstances in your life made it difficult to have a traditional job and still fulfill other obligations.  Or you may dream of building something bigger and better for your family.  Regardless of your reason, the cost of walking away from it can be huge.  If I had quit during any of the many setbacks I experienced, I would have missed out on all the time I had with my father before he passed away.  That's a high price to pay.  If you started your business to replace a lost job, or because you need additional income to provide for your family, what will be the cost to them if you quit?  And what kind of example are you setting for others who may be watching, waiting, hoping that you succeed so they can get courage, inspiration, and support from you?  You believed in yourself and your business in the beginning.  Don't let that belief falter just because you have stumbled.  Get up, dust yourself off, and let's move forward.

One of the things that helped me through whenever life got tough was being surrounded by a network of strong and caring family and friends who would remind me that this was just temporary and that I would get through it.  They provided advice, assistance, and sometimes just a shoulder to cry on.  It has worked the same way for me when experiencing a business setback.  I have surrounded myself with others who think the same way I do.  When I hit a bump in the road, they are there with advice, support, assistance, and encouragement. 

If you are feeling like the time has come to just give up, stop.  Tap into your network of friends and mentors.  Chances are one of them has been through the same thing and can help.  At the very least, they can provide ideas and encouragement while you work through this current obstacle.  If you don't have such a network, build one.  But whatever you do, don't quit.

Three of my favorite quotes remind me of this whenever I feel discouraged.  I keep them hanging on my office wall - just in case!

For every failure, there's an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour. - Mary Kay Ash

Have you got a problem? Do what you can where you are with what you've got.- Theodore Roosevelt

God will never send you more than you can bear. - Grandma