When first starting out, virtually every entrepreneur I know has suffered from an insecurity complex of sorts. Yes, you’re running a business, but it doesn’t feel like a real business because you find yourself staring at your CEO, board of directors and staff while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning and walk past your “world headquarters” as you make your way back to your bedroom to get dressed.
When you’re a business of one (or two or three), it’s hard to avoid that stomach churning anxiety. Did you know that 49% of entrepreneurs report that they struggle with mental health?
As Aristotle said, “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness”
So what can we do? How can we manage our own human emotions while also attempting to achieve big dreams and conquer massive goals? And more importantly, why is it that I believe, the journey of the entrepreneur can be one of the most effective paths to discovering who you really are?
Like many in the start-up scene, it wasn’t long before I felt completely over my head and out of my depth. I experienced what is probably common when you meet other start-ups for the first time, that sudden anxiety freeze, your mind swirling with all the new “to-dos”, the business plan you never expected to actually complete, pressured to admit that you thought a pitch was a kind of throw that was made in baseball.
I feel it’s important here to point out the difference between what we all like to refer to as your “why” and brand narrative. Don’t get this confused with your purpose as your WHY is so much more personal and also what I believe is significantly more powerful. In other words, why are YOU doing what you are doing? This should be something you can connect strongly with.
As I mentioned earlier, my business and my WHY intertwined with my recovery. I found confidence and strength through the actions I took to move my business forward. My business became my purpose. My WHY became the process. Why do I do what I do? I do it because I find purpose and passion in the process of self-discovery while nurturing my interest in food.
It’s also incredibly important to realise what you consider to be success. When first starting out, I spent a lot of time comparing myself to other businesses, other entrepreneurs and startups. It led me down a path of self-doubt and feeling inadequate, especially as I would always find myself comparing my progress to someone that had be in the game for much longer than I had been.
Do not be ashamed because your goal isn’t to take over the world. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with what they call “life-style” businesses. I hate that saying so much. I also really don’t like the fact that often those that aren’t seeking to turn over billions of pounds are sometimes seen as second rate, or that they don’t need support or help or guidance.
Some steps to help with the incredible highs and soul crushing lows can be small – expressing gratitude for example. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take stock of what makes you happy in life and to celebrate the success you have; no matter how big or small because most likely, you don’t have anyone else to lift you up and recognise the work you have done.
Accept that the very traits that make life seem unusually difficult at times are likely the same ones that allow you to stand out so brilliantly.
Leader who remain self-aware and are honest about their strengths and weaknesses are inspirational to their teams and others, building trust and respect along the way.
There is also strength to be found in being vulnerable. In addition to building self esteem and awareness, humility helps you to embrace the simple truth that your company isn’t the only thing that needs your attention; yourself, family and friends do too.
For myself, The Sweet Beet created purpose and meaning. I found a resilience I did not know I possessed. I discovered focus, drive and ambition. Becoming responsible for my business changed how I perceived myself and allowed me to obtain a confidence I’d never had. The Sweet Beet transformed into a harmony of song and I realised; I already knew the melody. I already knew the correct steps. I had found my own sweet beat.
My business began to shape a story of true entrepreneurship and through that found a path to recovery, self-discovery and enlightenment.
And so, The Sweet Beet embodied our tagline far deeper than I could have ever imaged. We truly were born in Texas and made here in the UK.
Your mental health is important. It’s as important as your physical health, your diet and the success of your company. None are mutually exclusive.
To wrap things up, I’d like to finish with a quote from Mark Twain. “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born; and the day that you find out why”