It’s been roughly ten years since I started my entrepreneurial journey. There were definitely good times as well as the bad times, when I felt like ripping my hair out. However, looking back to when I first started, even though I made a ton of mistakes, for some reason they always steered me in the right direction.
Now, you could say that it’s because I am persistent, but I don’t think this is the real reason for my success. Scrappiness is another quality that people believe I have, but, again, I don’t think that’s what got me to where I am either.
So, how the heck did I get to where I am today?
Stress! That’s right, I stress out like crazy. Obviously, I’m not the only entrepreneur on the planet who stresses out. In fact, if you are an entrepreneur and don’t stress out, I’d say something is wrong with you. At the same time, even though there isn’t anything unique about “stress” in and of itself, the skill that helped me get to where I am today was my ability to manage that stress.
People often think that the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is putting in sixty or even eighty hours of work a week, which isn’t true. Anyone can work hard for a longer period time, but very few people can handle all the stress that comes along with entrepreneurship.
And yes, I know what you are thinking. You’re the one putting the pressure on yourself. You don’t have to be one of those stressed out entrepreneurs if you don’t want to.
You are right! You don’t have to be stressed out, but living a stress-free life won’t make you wealthy.
I hate to be harsh, but your entrepreneurial journey is never going to be perfect. Just like with anything else in life, there will be good times and bad times. “Everything is hard before it becomes easy.”
If you are not pushing the boundaries, you are not growing your business fast enough. And when you push the boundaries and start walking that fine line, you’ll probably end up making mistakes and experience problems you would have never imagined.
For example, over the past ten years, I’ve dealt with:
- Working for over six years without paying myself a dollar
- Having to lay off employees
- Having to fire one of my closest friends
- Losing a million dollars of borrowed money before I was 21
- Paying back all of the money I lost
- Dealing with lawsuits
- Dealing with health issues caused by stress
I could probably keep going and list another hundred stressful moments from my life, but I think you get where I’m going with this. I am not trying to make you feel bad for me. I simply want you to understand why those stressful moments pushed me to the next level.
In order to take yourself to the next level, you must begin to feel uncomfortable. If I didn’t step out of my comfort zone by adding all that stress to my life, I would have never taken any of those risks and probably would have wound up working for a company like Microsoft making a $120,000 salary. It’s definitely not the worst gig to have, but I believe I made the better choice.
If you too want to be a successful entrepreneur, you will need to make a shift in your mindset. You can’t be wasting your time whining about doing things like laying off your employees and cutting budgets. Keep your chin up, understand that the stress is part of the process and deal with it.
If you can’t cope with the stress, then you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur.
You can reduce your stress
Since you now understand the benefits of pushing yourself to the limits and accepting the fact that stress is part of the process, let’s talk about how you can handle all that stress.
When I started my entrepreneurial career, I realized that the lack of money is the major cause of stress for most entrepreneurs. However, it’s not necessarily the lack of the business capital; it’s the lack of personal money.
There isn’t really a quick fix to making extra money fast other than working hard until you can pay yourself a decent salary. In the meantime, though, you can learn to live well below your means. This will significantly reduce your stress levels.
Buying a fancy home or a nice car and going on shopping sprees sounds nice, but it’s hard to maintain that life when your income is like a roller coaster. And once you get trapped by the lavish lifestyle, you’ll notice that you will keep spending money on things that you don’t need.
Hypothetically, let’s say you live in California and make $20,000 a month ($240k a year). It sounds like a lot of money, and it is as long as you control your spending.
But after taxes, that $20,000 turns into $11,194. Let’s say you live in a million dollar home, which means that your mortgage and property tax payments will come out to $5,336 a month. That only leaves $5,858. And after car payments, food expenses, bills, and other miscellaneous expenses, you’ll probably be left with something like $4,000 a month in savings.
Although $4,000 a month isn’t bad, the moment something goes wrong with your business and you’re forced to reduce your salary, you’ll have a difficult time covering your expenses. You possibly may even have to foreclose on your home.
On the other hand, if you bought a home that was half the cost and chose something that was more modest than the latest BMW, you could survive on an income of $10,000, or maybe even $5,000, a month.
In short, stress that comes from your business is a necessary evil. Even though it appears to be harming you, it’s actually pushing you forward. At the same time, you can easily manage the stress from your business by making smarter decisions in your personal life. Don’t make dumb spending decisions. Start living below your means.
I know stress isn’t the best thing for your body, but you will have to suck it up and deal with it. Throughout my personal journey, I have yet to come across a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t dealt with any stress in his or her life. It’s part of the process, so learn to deal with it!
What do you think? Is stress good for entrepreneurs?