The Emotional Journey of Starting Your Business
Small business is big business in America. There are 30.2 million small businesses in the US, with 5.3 million of them having 1-20 employees, according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy 2018 Small Business Profile. That’s a whole heap of folks who have signed up for an emotional roller coaster ride.
The Emotions a Startup Small Business Owner Feels in the Beginning
Let me explain. The emotions a startup small business owner feels, in the beginning, are filled with ups and downs. As they start their company, they will need those emotions to fuel their dreams, face their challenges, and create their companies. Some of those emotions will change as the business owner gains experience, and some will not. That’s okay. Your emotions are there for a reason, to help guide you. Be honest with yourself. Dig deep. Face your emotions, and use them to nurture and grow your dreams!
But what exactly are those feelings small business owners have in the beginning? I took an informal survey of some colleagues a while ago. I asked them what they felt as they began their businesses, asking them to distill their feelings down to two words. Their answers fall into the six categories listed here, and one important word only mentioned by one small business owner.
The biggest group of responses were in the “excited” category. They were “excited” or “excitement,” “joy,” “passion,” and “eager.” This is another critical success ingredient. It’s tough to start a business and slog through all the “stuff” you must do to launch it. As a startup, you need mountains of excitement to get your business off the ground, guide you through the early phases, do all the business things you are not passionate about, and sustain you through the days when your passion wanes. And it will.
Actually, “Bound and Determined” – one person used both of her words to convey her single-minded focus on getting her company off the ground! Another person said, “About Time!” Others simply said, “Determined.” As one who has worked with thousands of small business owners, “determined” is a key ingredient to success.
Some small business owners described their beginning feelings as “hopeful” and “optimistic.” Love this one! Let’s face it, when things seem to be going sideways (and they will), you need hope to get back in the game, keep things on track. And this is not mindless hope based upon wishing and thinking. No. I am talking about a sense of hope based upon facts that will drive you into action and help you reach your goals.
Yes! This is one of the main reasons people start businesses. People also used words like “purpose” and “confident” in this category. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to love your product as much as you do. Fact. People who feel empowered by starting their business and have confidence (while also being willing to let the market teach them!) will have an easier task ahead of them. When you are filled with a sense of purpose, after receiving eight straight “No’s” on sales calls, you can tackle the ninth call. Your sense of fulfillment in building your business will keep the drama down, help you stay on track, and give you peace during your journey to success.
Anxious (and Fearful!)
These are new ventures! Many new business owners have never owned a business before. They may be coming from corporate America or even the government, and probably do not know very much about the small business world. And they have to…gulp…sell! No matter what their background, or how they came to their decision to start a small business, a strong dose of this category, which includes “anxiety,” “uncertainty,” “overwhelmed,” and even “vulnerable,” is healthy. One person said, “terror.” The owner who admitted to being terrified was brutally honest with her/himself. Self-honesty is another important small business owner trait.
“Too many of us are not living our dreams
because we are living our fears.” ~ Les Brown.
Don’t let fear block your dreams. As Susan Jeffers says in her book by the same title, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
In this category, we had words like “faith,” grateful” and “fulfillment.” These small business owners have an inner sense of peace that this is the next step in their life and it is the right step. Not all entrepreneurs feel peace in the beginning. But, for those that do, I believe it makes their journey easier.
One Important Word: Curious
One person said they felt curious at the beginning of their journey. That took me by surprise. But the more I thought about it, I realized it belonged by itself, not lumped into the other emotions. Many small business owners have a sense of curiosity about their new venture. It is not often one of their top two emotions. How lucky for someone when it is! Entrepreneurs need curiosity to succeed. To innovate, create, and build new products, you must be curious. You should question the “everyone else does it this way” mentality. With a little bit of curiosity seasoned with some wonder and a heavy dose of creativity, you can make a so-so product/service into a great product/service. If you’re starting a business and aren’t yet curious, don’t worry. In the beginning, many entrepreneurs are too overwhelmed and determined to be very curious. That comes later for many.
Why it Matters
Knowing what other business owners feel can make you more comfortable with what you are feeling. There are times when you feel like you’re going crazy, that no one else in the world feels the way you do when starting a business. Chances are you are wrong. Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of hard work, persistence, passion, and a steady supply of excitement to get the job done. And by “grow” I don’t mean a billion-dollar empire or even a million dollars in sales per year. I mean to grow it to the size YOU want it to be, and to grow it YOUR way.
I wish you much success on your journey.
Robin Suomi, MBA, is an experienced small business expert and founder of Startup to Growth, LLC. Working with clients remotely through video meeting platforms, she helps clients answer their technical business planning questions. She also encourages them to dig deeper, dream bigger, and works with them to create their Success Steps! Check out the website for ongoing How to Start a Business and Business Plan Boot Camp workshops and seminars, as well as 1-1 small business coaching and group coaching, including QuickStart Mastermind and Growth Mastermind groups.
Also check out Startup to Growth Video Library for additional small business training and professional development videos available to you online, anytime. A very affordable option.