I asked my girlfriend to marry me and she said no. Ok, perhaps I’ve oversimplified things a little here but that’s ultimately how the situation turned out. I do not mention this bit of personal life to say I’m the good guy and she the bad, but rather to say that life is so unpredictable. I expected things to turn out one way and behold, another thing altogether appears. You may have your plans but then there is life with all its mysteries. As a matter of fact, the night I proposed – rather poorly I might add - was only a few short months after I made the decision to quit my job and go it alone to create Tomo. Funnily, I now think the best day of my life and the worst day of my life are inextricably linked. It’s a bitter, yet sweet moment in time that lingers until the next major event in my life arrives to announce the beginning of the next chapter.
There are moments when I feel unbelievably strong and unstoppable but somehow in the next moment I’m frail and weak, and vulnerable. These are my emotional states while trying to etch my name in the sand of time with my own two hands - deep enough to be seen by future generations. Tomo is the object I slave over and yet every time I sit down to work on the business plan, or do research it can be such a struggle to get where I need to be mentally. I no longer know how to summon all the excitement and optimism I had when I first began at will any more. This has become a new challenge to solve for on this journey. Mainly, how do I separate my personal life and emotional state from the business I’m growing?
Entrepreneurship is a deeply personal thing. It takes personal conviction, personal energy, and real tears. You can’t just throw up your hands whilst exclaiming “it’s not my business anyway – who cares what happens.” Of course you care. When starting your own business, sometimes there is no longer a clear distinction between your personal life and your professional life. I was prepared for this reality but I didn’t expect my personal life to take this much of a detour. How do I keep something that happened in my personal life from negatively affecting my business at this critical start up stage? Frankly, I don’t have the answer. I realize though that that’s what startup life is all about. Not taking the path most trodden. Finding your own answers to questions you yourself ask. With that said, I’ve discovered a few ideas that seem to help me with this question while on this startup journey.
My first observation is recognizing that once your idea is out of our mouth it has begun taking on a life of its own. Therefore you must treat it as such. Speak about your product as if it already exists. This really helps me in my decision making as well as confidence building. This mindset also helps to manage personal stress. When I feel badly about something that happened to me personally, I recognize that it doesn’t mean that it also happened to the business. This thought is sometimes confused when thinking of the business as your own self. The idea is now its own entity. It’s a subtle but necessary distinction.
Another observation is setting regular work hours and goals. It’s extremely easy to slip here when you are your own boss so this takes determined effort. Having a bad personal day can really mess with your routine. This is an obvious point I know, but realizing you should act and actually acting are two very different things which actually leads me to my next point.
Create a team. This can be very difficult because it’s hard to trust someone else with your vision. Trusting someone who is not you is so necessary in moving your business along because I have come to realize from experience that you can’t do it on your own. Trusting someone else also allows for an accountability partner. Someone else holding you accountable for deliverables and deadlines is seriously important. I have overlooked this point myself so don’t make the same mistake. Find someone or a group of people who share your passion about what you’re doing and can see your vision and bring them onboard. It’s critical that they are a correct fit so this may take a while, but I believe it will be worth the time.
Lastly, have faith. I am beginning to realize that this concept is way more powerful than we really know. An unshakeable belief in your own success brings with it strange and almost providential occurrences. Don’t underestimate the power of your own mind. This faith will take you through all of the lows. It will shield you from all of the naysayers and will allow you to forgive yourself for as well as correct your shortcomings as an entrepreneur.