Leadership & Productivity

Endurance for entrepreneurs: How to go the distance when business gets tough

7 min read

30 April 2019

Although many people believe that being an entrepreneur is a glamorous vocation, the reality is often far different from the dream. Long days, heavy workloads and immense pressure often weigh you down. These factors can cloud your view of the very reason why you set up in business in the first place. And while starting up can be a steep learning curve that requires all your time and energy – even when your business is established, there is no time to rest, or cruise along.

One of the biggest frustrations for most business owners is when their business plateaus. This is when you or your business have ‘hit the wall’ and your company is struggling to move beyond the next financial milestone, despite you doing all you possibly can to progress, to increase your profitability, your reach, and expansion.

– This is an extremely common occurrence and an issue that many business owners can relate to.

Hitting the wall

When marathon runners hit the wall, regardless of their great efforts, they feel they are running on the spot, getting nowhere, all their resources exhausted. It can feel the same for entrepreneurs.

Some hit that wall hard and never manage to move beyond this point, unable to break the barrier down or get over it. Some give up altogether.

So how do some people overcome this the wall they’ve hit and move beyond the obstacle? Or how do they break through the ceiling that stops them from reaching new heights? The secret is simply to carry on.

Stick with it

Some people drop out when things seem too hard. But success comes from resilience and perseverance. When the going gets tough, the tough get going with added determination.

Experienced marathon runners know that when they move past the wall, they actually feel more invigorated with new energy and determination to finish the race – and even to win.

Like flowing water – keep moving, keep fresh, keep heading onwards. Keep going beyond this stagnant stage.

Stagnation can be hazardous to our health, and if strong, flowing water is dammed, cracks start to appear. Through sheer perseverance, you can break the barrier preventing your progress.

Greener Grass?

Many entrepreneurs live for the excitement of a new challenge and are bored by the mundane. They have an eye for the next opportunity – or they switch businesses, thinking the grass is always greener on the other side. There’s always something better – more exciting, or more interesting, or more profitable.

The dangers of being a visionary

A lot of entrepreneurs are visionaries – or they may be excited by starting new things – but they may not be completer-finishers. Some are addicted to initiating businesses but are bored by the day-to-day running of a business. This is fine if you have the resources to hire people to run the business for you, while you move onto new ventures.

But if you make it a habit of dropping things too quickly, or you habitually run away when things get less interesting or too hard, you’re less likely to achieve your business targets or wealth goals.

The trick is to break through those barriers, whether they are built of boredom or a plateauing business – and keep progressing.

How to break through the wall

1. Maintain your purpose and vision

Think about the reasons you started your business, to begin with. What is its purpose? Get back in touch with the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing – and this is a powerful incentive if you ever feel that you’re questioning yourself and your continued involvement in the business. And what is your company vision?

Revisit or review your long-term objectives for yourself and your business over the next 5 or more years. When you clarify where you’re headed, you can step forward more purposefully – and enjoy the journey.

2. Reflect and review

Take some time to look back over what you’ve achieved up to now. Review all your business wins and accomplishments – including new contacts, new networks, new relationships. What’s gone well? Make a note of these. Recognise how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved so far.

Celebrate your successes

This helps you to see the value in what you do. Reflect on things that didn’t go so well, but instead of focussing on the problems – be solution-focused. What can you do to make improvements? To increase profits? To focus spend? To engage more customers?

What new ideas, innovations, and approaches can you implement? This creative, positive approach to reviewing progress and making changes can energise your entrepreneurial spirit again.

3. Achieve a work-life balance

Entrepreneurs and business owners often throw all their time and energy into the business to the detriment of their physical, mental and emotional health and wellbeing. They can also neglect their families, friends, hobbies and leisure time.

You need to take time out, not only to relax, have fun and renew your energy but also to make a clear division between work and the rest of your life. Then, when you do concentrate on it, work becomes a pleasure again – and doesn’t ‘bleed’ into all aspects of your life. Schedule days off, weekends away and holidays. Leave work at work.

4. Get a coach

In my coaching practice, I help clients like business leaders to get back on track when they are dissatisfied with their progress or losing motivation. When you feel bogged down or too close to a problem, you need someone external to take an objective view – a helicopter view, to see the bigger picture and get a different perspective.

A business coach or success coach will ask challenging questions and hold you accountable for taking action to resolve issues like hitting the wall and achieving success. Keeping your eye on the prize, celebrating the positives, taking time out and getting help and support are just some of the strategies available to you to help you take your business forward with strength.