It feels ironic to be the Founder of a company built to help early stage women entrepreneurs and encounter my own early stage entrepreneurial challenges. I am supposed to help our community and members, I have to have it together.
I fought it for a while, about a month to be exact. It was the first month I worked from home after leaving the tech company I co-owned to focus 100% on consulting and building Women With Ambition to be an empire of inspirational women helping each other succeed. It feels even more ironic that it was precisely that month when I lost all inspiration and motivation.
One month working at around 20% capacity. I would physically do the things I would always do; wake up, try to get a workout in (or make the perfect excuse not to), make coffee and prepare breakfast, sit down at the computer, make lunch, have an afternoon coffee, finish work and then take a quick break before dinner and bed. The same things, but the actual professional output was so minimal and low quality it’s laughable.
One day I went to a co-working office to change my physical location and ended up sitting at a desk just staring at my computer while fighting back tears of anger, frustration and self doubt. I stayed in the office for about 2 hours before I went home and did minimal work from bed feeling crazy.
I used to see the future of Women With Ambition so clearly, the events with 1000s of inspirational women, the amazing connections made, the women who succeed and get funding because of our initiatives, chapters in cities across the world, huge impact partnerships and so much more. But all of a sudden that vision and dream evaporated, I lost it and could barely remember what it was in the first place and why I ever believed I was capable of achieving this for myself, let alone for all of our members.
Scarcity + Bumps
Writers out there can often times suffer from a common challenge called “writers block”. According to Wikipedia,
“Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.”
This is common and happens all the time, writers have their own ways of getting themselves out of it, whether it be a vacation, meeting new people, finding their inspiration comes in many different forms.
What if, just like writers, entrepreneurs could suffer from an “entrepreneurial block”. Where we lose our vision, optimism, excitement and drive. It doesn’t mean we have suddenly stopped being entrepreneurs, we simply suffer from a temporary entrepreneurial block.
As entrepreneurs we need to be a little crazy. We believe so strongly in something that doesn’t exist yet that it gives us enough drive, inspiration and motivation to work endless hours, learn new things in record speed, put ourselves out there to meet the right people, give up our social life and many times lose focus on our mental and or physical health.
We throw it all out the window for a theoretical life changing idea that we love with all our soul.
So how do we get in this rut? How does entrepreneurial block start to form?
Well, during all the excitement of building our companies we lose many things. Patience, sleep, friends, sanity… you get it. We start to burn out and enter into a scarcity mindset due to a serious lack of time in the day, money in our bank accounts and social connections with people we care about. We stop functioning at maximum capacity and get sloppy.
Then we hit real bumps in the road… we lose a key team member, our clients don’t act as we predicted, a personal relationship gets messy, a key investor backs out, the possibilities of road bumps are endless.
So the equations are:
Lack of sleep + lack of resources + lack of time + social isolation = Scarcity mindset
Anything that goes slightly wrong = Bumps in the road
Scarcity mindset + Bumps in the road = Entrepreneurial block
Self Worth Depends on Self
And just like that you’ve ready to throw in the towel. You’ve spend 1000s of dollars & hours on your idea, it’s grown, adapted and has true potential but you’ve become blind and can only see the stress and dark bags under your eyes.
This, to a T, was what happened to me, without ever realizing or acknowledging it was normal I simply trudged along slowly started to doubt myself and my entire self worth.
Now, from first hand experience I can tell you that playing with your self worth is a dangerous and pointless game. It’s the most vicious cycle there ever was. Once you allow your worth to be played with all bets are off.
You start with one bad day and start to carve off just a bit from of your self worth. The next hard day you start to feel a little less resilient and capable of overcoming the challenge. This carves off just a bit more and the cycle continues, less self worth leads to lower quality output, which leads to even lower self worth and so on. Until finally, someone who cares about you calls you out on your shit and you need to do some soul searching to realize your true worth.
Don’t start the cycle my dear, don’t connect your self worth to an idea, a project, a person (don’t need no man) or any external thing… ever. If I could give any one piece of advice I swear this would be it.
Acceptance & Baby Steps
So here I am, starting to inch my way towards progress, approaching a whopping 50% capacity.
“When you accept what is, every moment is the best moment. That is enlightenment.”
So much unnecessary suffer comes from not accepting reality and constantly comparing it to your expectations. Back in April 2018 I created an excel document that projected finances for Women With Ambition until 2022 and explained this “conservative forecast” proves we would be profitable already and soon be able to work full time and hire a team. I was off by more than a mile.
My financial projections didn’t plan on losing a key team member, facing personal financial problems, entering into an entrepreneurial block or changing my priorities to focus on a relationship. But this is reality.
I’m learning to accept the reality of each moment I am in and whatever speed of progress that comes along with them. Small, seemingly unimportant steps forward will take me where I want to go. Progress, even in the form of baby steps, is still progress.
Be proud, be optimistic, be strong, be ambitious and never stop believing in yourself, because you are so worth it my dear.
Kelly is the founder of Women With Ambition, a tech startup consultant and avid lover of dogs, travel, running & family time.