Don't sweat it, we've all been there!
As the owner of two businesses, a mature psychological group practice and a human resources firm in an aggressive growth phase, Monday mornings are either embraced with excitement or dread to start the workweek. My two-sided feelings are often indicative of my current stage of business and service development. Specifically, whether I am close to closing a contract, or if I have a big speaking engagement at a company the following week that I am preparing for or what networking events must I attend to get the word out about our new company.
Although I thoroughly enjoy working as a psychologist treating clients for a variety of mental health disorders, I knew that this second business opportunity was a natural evolution in my growth plan as an entrepreneur and just what the doctor ordered. However, I must admit that I was psychologically immature for the role of a serial entrepreneur.
Owning one business is enough to keep you up late at night tossing and turning due to worries about closing a deal, making payroll, rolling out a new product line, purchasing supplies and hiring woes. For whatever, reason, I never fully considered the amount of extra stress and burden that I would place upon myself by embarking upon my new business venture. I wasn't prepared for the increase in migraines because I wasn't using healthy coping strategies to deal with the stress. Yes, even a psychologist can be grandiose at times and think too highly of himself or herself and believe they can do it all!
I needed a challenge that my mature business didn't offer and similar to an athlete who pushes their body to an elite status, I wanted to push myself to do more, but I got more than what I bargained for. Do I regret my decision to focus my efforts on developing and growing my HR consulting firm? No, absolutely not.
Small businesses propel the American economy and create jobs for hard working Americans. In fact, over 50% of working Americans are employed by a small business. My business venture is in a related field that I am passionate about -- working with businesses to promote wellness for their companies, their employees and their bottom line. I feel good that I'm not being safe and I am evolving into a multi-dimensional role as a psychologist/serial entrepreneur.
It's important to reflect upon the hard lessons that I've learned and to share them with others so they can equip their psyche to grasp all that it will take for business expansion.
To venture out to expand your business or start a new business that will be financially and personally rewarding, we must lift some "psychological" weights.
1) Recognize that the time, energy, effort and sacrifices you are about to make will pale in comparison to your first endeavor. And that's okay. Just be prepared for and accepting of these changes and realize they won't last forever.
2) Become more disciplined with your time management. Time is the one element we can not get back so it becomes essential to use your time wisely to balance all the meetings, client calls, networking and relationship building while still having a few minutes for yourself at the beginning and end of the day.
3) Don't expect too much at once. Rome wasn't built in a day. It took time to build your first business and it will take time to expand or build the second business. The hope is that you learned some valuable lessons from the first business endeavor, which can shorten your learning curve.
4) Invest in a business coach, business classes and continuous professional development. When I started my first business, I didn't know much about business beyond what I read in Black Enterprise Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneur or Inc.com. However, this time around, I attended lots of SCORE workshops (a nationwide nonprofit organization that helps small businesses get started, grow, and operate effectively) joined my Chamber of Commerce and participated in their learning initiatives. I have also invested in a coach to bounce ideas off and to receive constructive criticism. I've also enrolled in classes at the local university to hone my subject matter skills and to be a better entrepreneur.
5) Read a new book once a week on business development and management and your subject matter. One of my favorite places to visit is Half Priced Books. I regularly peruse the isles to grab books in my passion area to become a subject matter expert.
6) Join a CEO support group that is focused on growth and not just maintenance. It's imperative to be around other individuals who are aggressively working their plan to expand their business or start a new business venture. The support is invaluable as you embark upon this new journey.
7) Keep telling yourself that setbacks are just setups to achieving your personal and financial goals. As a psychologist, I regularly teach clients to engage in positive coping statements to change their behavior. I can admit it's tough to do in the face of adversity. However, to reduce the likelihood of stress building that can cause sleepless nights and weight gain, using positive coping statements, healthy eating and regular exercise in concert makes a difference to achieve your goals.
The proverbial Type A high achievers such as you and I will always keep creating new challenges and goals and thereby pushing the goal post back further and further. Truthfully there's nothing wrong with that! In the future we must be psychologically mature and prepared to handle these challenges, which only increases the likelihood of our success.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.