Oftentimes, people only see the veneer of success that an entrepreneur enjoys—the trappings of wealth, recognition, and apparent success.
However, the path to success is never linear; it’s usually littered with a litany of mistakes, problems, heartache, and much more. Having strategies to overcome challenges and persevere through these difficulties is critical. Here are the ones that work for me; I hope they can be of help to you.
Being a solo entrepreneur can be extremely lonely. Most of the people around you have very different experiences and problems. This is compounded by the buck stopping with you when things go wrong.
Having a support network of other entrepreneurs has been a game-changer for me. I joined an organisation called Entrepreneurs Organisation in 2013. Over the years, this group helped me navigate through some extremely hard times, including a business partner passing away, being £400k down in a month, suicide, and lack of self-belief. I first read about a ‘mastermind group’ in 2011 when I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I believe that everyone should have a group of peers who support, encourage, and hold them accountable.
Two people can look at the same situation in completely different ways. My favourite quote is, “An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty; a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity.”
Currently, I am the founder and CEO of New Zealand’s largest and most successful digital agency. With the advent of AI and the launch of ChatGPT in November last year, our business model will likely need to change completely. While we could have ignored these developments, burying our heads in the sand, and hoping everything turned out alright—we didn’t. Instead, we identified the person with the most knowledge and experience globally in digital marketing and AI. We contracted her to assist us with the transition, ensuring we remain leaders and best in class in our field.
I’m not sure if it’s just me being a British guy, but when I started in business, I tended to feel like I had to deal with everything on my own. I would bottle things up and try to power through. Inevitably, this tendency had a whole host of consequences for my well-being and ability to perform at the top level. In general, I believe people are intrinsically good and naturally inclined to help you. In 2014, I gave my first public speech about my journey (warts and all). Being an introvert and someone who does not naturally talk about these things, I was terrified about doing the talk.
After the speech had finished, I had several people approach me and tell me how my story touched and resonated with them and gave them renewed motivation to carry on. The thought of my story helping even one person was more powerful than my innate desire to embrace the British ‘stiff upper lip.’
Look After Yourself
When I moved to New Zealand in 2009, I went through a period where I fell out of love with exercise. I ballooned to 93kgs (I am now 70kgs) and could hardly run 200m without being in a state. Not surprisingly, this had ramifications on all areas of my life, including my relationship, my confidence, and my health.
When my wife got pregnant, I realised that I wanted to be fit again (it had been a decade since I was a healthy weight). I wanted to be able to play football and do things with my kids without getting puffed out and making excuses.
Nowadays, exercise and massages are two of my most effective tools for improving my mindset. I started kickboxing 5-6 years ago and now go for regular massages. If something really stressful happens at work or home, I have options. I can take my frustrations out on some pads at the gym, or if I need to find a new perspective and de-stress, I can head off for a massage.
Making sure we maintain and develop our coping strategies is crucial for entrepreneurs. After losing a good friend and fellow entrepreneur to suicide a few years ago, I have tried to make sure I lean on others in times of trouble and encourage others to lean on me. My door is always open to other entrepreneurs who are struggling. If that is you, feel free to reach out for a chat/coffee: [email protected].