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It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

Anonymous
Not applicable

It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

QB Sad.jpg

As a business coach, I would be remiss if I didn't comment on the rarely discussed, dark side of entrepreneurship - depression. Entrepreneurs are by nature optimistic and adventurous (why else would we forgo a steady paycheck in exchange for freedom and the chance to achieve something greater), but there can also be a downside to the life we have chosen - the very high highs, and sometimes the very low lows. 

 

When business is great, clients are happy, and family life is seemingly in balance, there is no better feeling. However, when the money is hard to come by and we are feeling guilty for neglecting our kids in the name of success, that's when the darkness can really show up. This happens to all entrepreneurs at one time or another, including myself.

 

After the recession, my boutique M&A firm literally evaporated. Business valuations were non-existent and even if they still had value, financing the deals was almost impossible, so I made the hard decision to close shop. I had to send my team home and re-negotiate all of my leases. It felt terrible and even though I knew that it wasn't my fault, I still felt like I should have seen it coming.  

 

The months that followed were really tough for me. Thankfully I read a lot of business books during that phase (because I had PLENTY of time!), which inspired me to write my own book, which then lead to my decision to start a business coaching and training company.  

 

Today I love my business and wouldn't trade those tough years for anything (well, that might not exactly be true! Ha!), but those lows felt terrible and I am grateful that I had my family, friends, and business books to see me through to the other side.

 

So today, if you feel like sharing, I would love to hear how you get through the harder parts of entrepreneurship. REPLY and tell me if you rely on your family, friends, church, health club, time in nature, or some other method.  It happens to all of us, and as a community of like-minded thinkers, hopefully, we can help each other back to the bright side faster.  Looking forward to your thoughts and standing by as always... J. 

 

 

13 Comments
Established Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

I love this, @Anonymous - and so timely. The recent passing of two go-their-own-way entrepreneurs - Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain - shows that even tremendous success can take its toll when you're working for yourself (as Community Leader @LeslieBarber pointed out in this terrific op-ed). 

 

I know of a few QB Community members who have hit a bit of a rough patch lately, and it's great to see them here on Community talking about their business challenges. That's what we're here for! I hope we can take this opportunity to get real about exactly how hard solopreneurship can be.

Established Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

@Anonymous, you and I both really responded to @SarahGonzales's piece "Calligraphist Elisabeth Young Gets Real About Struggling with Anxiety and Depression in Her First Year of Business." What's your take on the personal story @Anonymous is sharing here?

Highlighted
Pen
Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

I write. A lot. 

 

If I feel down in the dumps, I write fiction. Storytelling always cheers me up. 

 

If I feel like I need to learn something new. I learn as much as I can about the subject and then I write about it so it sticks. 

 

If I feel happy. I write so I can share it. 

 

Sometimes. I am lucky enough that people will pay me for what I write. Sometimes not. But either way, I almost always comes up with some kind of new idea because writing gets my creative juices flowing. 

Established Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

That's amazing, @Pen! It's wonderful that writing offers you so many opportunities for self-care. 

 

 

It sounds cliche but for me it really does help to talk to someone who knows firsthand what I'm going through. A good friend will listen no matter what, but a peer or mentor may be able to offer insight that can push me past or through whatever it is that's holding me back.

 

Actually sucking it up and seeking out that person for guidance...well, that's something else entirely. I often have a hard time admitting that I could use the help.

 

Anyone else struggle with this?

Pen
Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

I have people I can go to and I often do. But it is not usually until after I have written it down. 

 

I find myself getting upset sometimes about things that really don't matter. Writing it down helps me to organize my thoughts. Sometimes it highlights how silly I am being. Sometimes it makes me realize that I truly have something to be upset about. And yet other times it helps me to realize that I am legitimately upset, but not at what I thought I was. In many cases, my writing will help me resolve the issue on my own whereas consulting someone else just makes it worse. 

 

I get overly emotional at times and whether or not it is with good reason, people do not take me seriously because of it. Or they think I am blowing something out of proportion and make me feel silly rather than supporting me. My pencil and paper never make me feel that way. I can get everything out. It remembers every word I said. And if I really listen, it almost always holds the answer. 

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

We specialize in smoothing out the rough patches in M2$1M! Don't you agree @EmilyCowan?! ;)

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

@Pen, you inspire me! I know in my heart that writing/journaling is a great way to release what might be bubbling up, but I am such a "thinker", that I default to sorting it out in my head before writing it down, or I skip the writing altogether.  Thinking about it, I used to journal and then someone found it and read it!! OMG!! Hmm... I might need therapy on this one! ;)  Kidding aside, I'm going to treat myself to a gorgeous new journal this weekend, and practice setting aside 15 minutes a day to write down my thoughts - happy or troubling - beginning always with gratitude. Thank you, Pen! I am grateful for YOU! J. 

Pen
Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

*beams* 

 

It makes me incredibly happy that I could inspire you in such a way. My love of writing started with my grandmother. I have this horrible habit of holding onto things. Not just my problems, but everyone else's too. I want so bad to help everyone, but the problem back then was I didn't know how to differentiate between what was significant and what was not. And I was so little that every problem seemed monumental.

 

I would get so stressed out with it that I would start panicking. There is nothing worse than a five-year-old having a panic attack. *shudders*  It got so distressed that my mother was thinking about putting me through homeschooling, but my grandmother refused to let that happen. She knew that if I didn't start going to school, I would get worse. So off to school, I went. 

 

 

My first day of school was grueling. Ms. Cunduff, my kindergarten teacher, was great though. I don't think I would have made it without her. But it was when I got home... My grandmother had planted a small tree in a pot right outside our front door. I started to walk in the house, but my grandmother was there to stop me. Armed with a collection of toy eggs (the ones you get when you stick a quarter in one of the machines at the grocery store to get a prize) and sticky notes, she joined me outside. She had somehow attached little strings to the eggs so they would hang on the tree without hurting it. We sat down at the porch table and she told me to write everything down that was bothering me. Each of my worries went on a different piece of paper. I didn't have to talk about it. Not then. But, she explained, when I wrote my worry on the note, it was making the problem a physical manifestation. And when I was done writing each one, she helped me put it in the egg, we walked back to the tree, and I put that physical manifestation on the tree. So now, I was no longer holding on to it. The symbolism was incredibly powerful. 

 

We did this every day after school. Then on Saturday, after breakfast, we went out to the worry tree and one by one, she pulled each of my worries off the tree and asked me, "does this bother you anymore?" For the most part, I was surprised to find that most of them did not, and she would throw those away. The ones that still concerned me, we would talk about, and at the end of our conversation, she would ask me, "does this still bother you." Usually, my answer was no. And she would throw it away. On occasion, there would be a particular worry that I could not shake, so when we were done talking, it would go back on the tree until next week. And that is just how it went.

 

I learned a lot about life during those little Tete-e-Tetes. But more than anything I learned that paper never judges you. And neither does Grandma. *smiles* 

Pen
Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

P.S. I still have a worry tree. It is no longer an actual living tree but is just a jewelry hanger in the shape of a tree. I am not as vigilant as I used to be about writing all my worries down, but now and then I will have a problem that I just can't let go of, and on the tree, it goes. 

Established Community Backer ***

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship


@Pen wrote:

P.S. I still have a worry tree. It is no longer an actual living tree but is just a jewelry hanger in the shape of a tree. I am not as vigilant as I used to be about writing all my worries down, but now and then I will have a problem that I just can't let go of, and on the tree, it goes. 


That's such a great idea, @Pen!

 

SWS
Not applicable

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

So pleased that you shared this. I suffer with the same challenge and often times I just don't get   out there in fear of not being taken serious. Or may be too serious when I try rid myself of the opposite.

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

I love your story so much @Pen! What a wonderful and thoughtful Grandmother you were blessed with! I taught my kids that when they have things that are bothering them, to visualize a dandelion with all their worries attached to the little furry parts, and then with all their might, to blow them all away! P.S. Works for big kids too. :) 

Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: It's Troubleshooting Tuesday: The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship

@SWS, hi there and I'm so glad you jumped into this conversation! It's nice to know that we're not alone during the hard parts, and other people are experiencing and overcoming challenges too. 

 

When you are talking about difficulting in putting yourself out there, are you referring to marketing your business? If so, tell me more and I'll give you a few tools to make it much easier and maybe even enjoyable! :)  Be sure to tag me at @Anonymous so I will see your reply sooner... Standing by! J. 

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