If you are an entrepreneur, adversity is the most common situation you will find every day.
Accepting it and learning how to manage it will be a crucial success factor if you want to live as an entrepreneur.
What’s the normal status being an entrepreneur
I have been an entrepreneur for almost 20 years, and I talk to 5–6 entrepreneurs, at least, every day. What do I find out?
I find out that the most common situation is this: things don’t work.
When creating a business, losing money is what usually happens.
I don’t want to stop your initiative, and I don’t want to seem a pessimistic guy (we’ll talk about that below in this article), but I do think you should be mentally prepared for this scenario, which is the most common.
What is impressive is creating a business that works, a profitable business that gives you money instead of putting money every month.
The sooner you accept that in your mind, the better you’ll be as an entrepreneur.
During all my entrepreneur life, I’ve always lived in “survival mode”. There has never been a moment for peace of mind. There are always problems and issues:
- Economic crises.
- Virus crises (as you can see these days).
- Problems with employees.
- Discussions with suppliers.
- Issues with clients.
- Government matters.
- All kinds of mistakes and failures.
It is an endless list that is part of your daily life whenever you become an entrepreneur.
You can focus on those problems and say life’s a bullsh*, or you can take the other way: accepting that life and entrepreneurship are like this, and enjoy the journey because I can promise you it’s a fantastic trip it’s worth it. That’s why I keep going on after almost two decades.
Whenever you get used to this “survival mode”, it becomes a way of life, and nothing terrible happens. It’s just another way of seeing and interpreting life.
Success is not based on effort
Another change of mindset you should do if you want to manage adversity is accepting that business success is not based on your efforts.
Based on my experience and that of my colleagues, things go like this:
- You start thinking doing A produces B, the outcome you’re pursuing.
- You start doing A like a crazy devil: every day, weekends, hours, more hours, you don’t sleep, you never stop making efforts based on A.
- B never comes.
- You get frustrated. You start complaining. You think life is unfair. You believe you don’t deserve that.
Accepting effort does not guarantee results is learning how the entrepreneurship’s game goes.
I can tell you I spent years preparing projects and having a 1% success ratio. Yes, you read right. For every 10 projects I developed and tried to sell, only 0.1 got sold!
I don’t mention I (better said “we”, because we were a team, and I, fortunately, wasn’t on my own, because eating this “pills” alone is really hard…) spent all night long preparing those projects, ending at 3 AM and waking up at 6 AM, working on weekends, having no life at all.
I don’t want to look like a victim. I’m just describing how the story usually goes.
Those are the moments you need to manage adversity. That’s when entrepreneurship is tough, and you forget about all those guys living on a yacht while their passive incomes never stop.
I never met anyone who earns money effortlessly. All they are people who work hard, day by day, with perseverance, accepting failures, and looking and thinking about how they can solve all the problems that come together with entrepreneurship.
Success is not based on effort, but I do think you cannot achieve success without effort.
I explain myself.
Efforts are a must if you want to succeed, but they are not enough to accomplish it.
Why don’t you stop doing A?
It’s very easy to fall into the “effort trap” because you don’t have to think about anything at all, just keep on doing A and wait for the promised land (B), a land you create yourself, never forget that.
I fall into that trap and almost lost my first company a long time ago.
I kept pushing more hours, and more days, and more months, and more resources. At those moments, you see how your investment starts to disappear, money vanishes, and problems become even more serious.
What to do in that critical scenario?
- Stop doing A.
- Think about other options.
- Think in C, D, or even Z.
Our solution was to bet for other business models. Different types of services.
We were focusing our efforts on business events. That market was full of competitors much more significant than us, and better positioned on large accounts, those who have big budgets, the ones, obviously, everybody wants.
It was a pool full of sharks, and we were that little tiny Nemo, trying to eat some food without being hurt.
Mission : Impossible.
We had to change our minds completely.
We expand our services to global marketing services, instead of such a specific service (business events), but we forgot about big accounts.
We focused on small and medium businesses (between 90%-95% of market share).
There we were: providing many more services and to a much broader market.
We started winning projects, and our motivation began to increase. Now our people were working on generating money and not working preparing projects for free.
It was life-changing for us!
Optimism vs. Pessimism
When facing adversity, you can just do it in 2 ways: optimism or pessimism.
Let’s analyze both of them.
Being a pessimistic person is an easy way. You only have to do nothing, complain, and wait. The world will do the rest.
Being optimistic is the hard way.
To destroy is easier than to create.
To complain and look for culprits is easier than accepting failure.
It’s always easier to say it’s someone else’s fault than yours.
When things go well, it is very easy to laugh, make jokes, say life is marvelous, but when things turn sour, you have to keep the same behavior. That’s coherence. That’s being able to manage adversity.
You can choose any way of living because each situation always has these 2 perspectives: the positive one, the negative one.
Pessimists are grey people, sad ones, people you don’t like to be close to, and people who only see the wrong side of everything.
Living with pessimistic people is horrendous: everything’s terrible, everything’s negative. They are toxic people. You have to go away from them. If you’re one of them, I should recommend you to start finding other ways of looking at life.
I disagree with Mark Twain. A pessimistic is not a well-informed optimist.
A pessimist is a person who looks at things from the lousy perspective, from the easiest one, the one that fools look at. But you can always look at the hard one, the one that brings you sunshine, color, and future.
Life isn’t easy, and entrepreneurs are used to fighting overcoming any obstacles. That’s the way to fulfillment in life. When you overcome the difficulty is when you grow as a person. When you’re satisfied with what you are doing.
The only way to manage adversity is by finding out solutions. Solutions come from motivation. Motivation only comes if you’re an optimistic person.
I would even say more: being an optimist is much more fun. You engage with people, you engage with yourself.
In March 2020, I managed with adversity, one of the worst scenarios in my life. Here comes the lesson learned.
We spent many years thinking about how our people could work from home. We were afraid of “doing experiments”. It wasn’t clear how things would work. The coronavirus crisis left us with no choice. We couldn’t do any experiments, we were forced to do “the experiment”. Everybody working from home!
Now we have real information on how working from home affects our productivity. If it hadn’t been for this crisis, we would still be thinking about experimenting with this issue.
The coronavirus crisis has had many negative points, but I have to look at the positive ones and try to solve the problems, focusing my energy on solving, not complaining, saying life is unfair, or looking for culprits.
Tools to manage adversity
So, as an entrepreneur, you have to learn how to manage adversity.
Managing adversity is vital to achieving your goals, enjoy your life, and start the sensation of fulfillment everybody looks for and desire. That’s the primary goal of an entrepreneur.
I always use these tools to manage adversity:
- Always see the positive side. There’s always one, no matter what the situation is. Being an optimist is not being a fool who thinks life is perfect. Being an optimist is focusing on finding solutions and seeing opportunities.
- A technique that works for me is imagining an even worse scenario. If you’re financially broken, imagine you could be with severe disease. Taking your brain to those worse situations makes it think the real situation is not as bad as you thought. It seems stupid, but it works.
If I didn’t want to read this article, even though I appreciated it a lot, this would be my takeaways:
- Always look on the bright side of life.
- Working hard is just a way to increase the probability of success, but doesn’t guarantee success at all. Success does not always come from working hard, putting in the effort, or not relaxing. Success is a combination of things you usually can’t manage or don’t know where they are. Don’t associate efforts to success because you’ll get frustrated. That usually doesn’t go that way.
- People don’t care about your efforts or your personal sacrifices. They are too busy thinking about theirs. If you fail is because you’re not understanding the market, you’re not giving what is demanded, you’re the guilty one. The sooner you accept that the better your business and your life will go.