As an entrepreneur, one of your most important roles is that of a problem solver. Your entire business was created to solve some kind of customer problem with a new product and service. From there, you’ll be putting out fires like missed deadlines, faulty product shipments, and unhappy customers.
But what they don’t tell you in business school, or in online guides on how to start a business, is the sheer volume of personal problems you’ll have to overcome as you grow your business.
Key Personal Problems to Recognize
What do we mean by “personal problems?” These are issues that can and will arise in your personal life, in response to how you spend time in your business.
The following are some of the most common:
- Self-care. The intensive time demands of entrepreneurship can interfere with your ability to practice self-care in multiple areas. For example, in your rush to get to the office on time, you might skip breakfast. In your bid to finish a project, you might stay up late. You might cut out exercise altogether to make room for all your work responsibilities. Eventually, the lack of proper diet, exercise, and sleep patterns can take its toll on you, resulting in declining health—and productivity.
- Entrepreneurship can also lead to severe feelings of loneliness. You’ll be doing lots of work on your own, away from your friends and family. On top of that, you’ll feel pressured to maintain a positive, calm demeanor in front of your employees, and you may need to tweak your personality to make a good impression with clients. You won’t be sharing the stress with anyone, and you won’t have as many people to talk to about your problems.
- Personal relationships. Along those lines, your personal relationships may suffer from your work. You’ll be working on your business for long hours, and most days of the week. When you come home and try to relax, you may be irritated and stressed, making it difficult to have positive interactions. You may grow more distant from your spouse, your family, and friends, and as a result, those feelings of loneliness and depression may grow even worse.
- Self-worth and confidence. Nobody becomes an entrepreneur expecting to fail, yet half of all new businesses collapse within the first five years of operation. Facing cash flow shortages, slow growth, and unexpected issues can have a dreadful effect on your confidence and feelings of self-worth—especially if you thought your idea was going to be a home run.
- Career burnout often strikes entrepreneurs because of the volatility and high stress associated with the position. In the early days, working long hours and through weekends might seem fun, but several months in, you’ll start feeling the effects of exhaustion. If you keep pushing yourself through those hurdles, you may grow to resent your work—and dread getting out of bed in the morning. Eventually, you may be forced to leave the business—or the entire industry—or else hate your job for the indefinite future.
Tenets for Improvement
Everyone responds to entrepreneurship differently, and will face a different combination of issues. However, there are three main principles that can help you overcome nearly any personal problem as an entrepreneur:
- Be aware. The best thing you can do is simply raise your awareness of these issues. Learn to recognize the signs of loneliness, depression, and other issues before they start to take over you life, so you can take action and mitigate them before it’s too late.
- Schedule time for yourself. It’s common for entrepreneurs to work long hours, but make sure you also schedule time for yourself. Force time into your schedule that allows you to maintain your personal relationships, engage in your favorite hobbies, and just relax.
- Open up. Don’t bottle up all your stress or refuse to believe it’s there; talk to someone about what you’re going through, whether it’s a peer, your spouse, or a therapist. Venting, in a positive way, can relieve stress and help you rationalize your problems. At the very least, you’ll feel less alone in your venture.
If you’re proactive, and you value your own mind and body as much as you value your business, there’s no reason these personal issues should interfere with your chances of success. Remain vigilant, and you’ll be able to spot and deal with these issues long before they affect your business—or your life.