Beating an Entrepreneur’s dark moments

1. Confidence

Lack of confidence, either in yourself or in your innovation, is common. This can be particularly tough for entrepreneurs who are naturally confident people. When confidence lacks it pays to have a good support system in place, as well as taking time to go back to basics – thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. It’s also important to have a focus outside of work to help keep things in perspective.

2. Loneliness

One of the things we hear most from entrepreneurs is that their road is long and lonely. Sometimes they feel like they’re the only people on the planet who really ‘get’ what they’re working day and night to achieve. Friends and family can lose patience when they don’t fully understand your goal and wonder when the money will start rolling in. And if you don’t have support, you can become truly isolated. Finding someone who understands what you’re working towards and why is the only way to fight off the loneliness that your chosen path might bring.

3. Reason and focus

Most entrepreneurs are driven by passion. A true and burning desire to make a difference runs through almost every entrepreneur’s profile. But sometimes, the need to prove to investors that you’re making headway, or working out how you’re going to pay the mortgage, means that your whole raison d’être can swiftly change from solving a client’s problems to making profit. While at some point your innovation will need to prove its economic worth, if your focus becomes too money-orientated, too early, this could cause you problems. Having a strong and considered business plan is what will help you retain focus when things get tough and make it clear for all when a return on investment is expected.

4. Motivation

Being an entrepreneur is like being a marathon runner, not a sprinter. Staying motivated when you feel as if you don’t have another ounce of energy or inspiration is tough, but you need to find a way to do it. Keep your goal in sight. And again, outside support and outside interests will help.

5. Structure

If you’re working on your innovation alone, it’s essential to have structure in what you’re doing. All too often days start to look the same as nights, weekends the same as weekdays and if you meet a deadline, that’s great, but there’s no one pulling you up if you don’t. Making sure you put structure in your days, weeks and milestones is an essential part of staying on track.

6. Variety

While variety is the spice of life, for an entrepreneur it can be the unwelcome sting in the tail. Working alone as an innovator means that you’re developer, promoter, packager, bookkeeper and accountant as well as tea-boy or tea-girl to boot. It’s a tough call for anyone to wear so many hats with success, but entrepreneurs are particularly prone to being vexed when they’re not master of their trade. Making sure you outsource what you can and ask for help where you don’t have skills is the only way to go here.

7. Mood

The world of innovation, when the sun is shining both inside and out, is complete and utter bliss. When the sky is grey and inside you’re feeling blue, it can seem like a real uphill struggle. Keeping your mood in check seems a bit of a ‘soft’ thing to mention here, but it’s essential that you get enough sleep, eat well and exercise to keep yourself in shape to achieve your goals. Retaining a social life is also an important way of keeping your demons in check.

8. The ostrich effect

It’s all too common a reaction to bury your head into the sand when things get tough, but we all know that this isn’t the answer. If you feel tempted to adopt the ostrich position, stop and ask yourself “Who can I turn to for help?”; “What can I do to get back on track?” or “Where can I find the support I need to move forward?” In other words, don’t continue to try to go it alone.

Peter Andrew is head of Innovation at Alba Innovation Centre.

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