If our private thoughts could speak, our businesses would crumble. But if we can’t laugh about that, shame on us.
If you’re like me (and a lot of my colleagues), you’ve been in that deep, dark place as a newbie entrepreneur/business owner/movement starter where you’re so emotionally raw from putting yourself out there time and again, that a cup of cynicism takes the place of your favorite Darjeeling tea more often than you’d care to admit.
While you’re not as dark as Vader, your disposition is definitely not as sunny as Patch Adams
“Chase your Dreams,” “Stay positive,” “Live a life of no regrets” are quickly hijacked by “Fake it till you make it.” “What am I doing?!” “People are idiots!”
Breathe easy. If you feel or have felt this way, you’re not alone, and you’re not a monster. It’s just what comes at the territorial border between wanting to start something and the insanity of actually starting something.
So after getting input from some friends and colleagues who have their own businesses, I thought I’d share my favorite examples of the mentally loose lugnuts all entrepreneurs have had to deal with at the start of their adventures.
1. You don’t know what would hurt your eyes more: staring directly into the sun or re-reading your about page. You’re afraid to change anything on it lest someone think that you did so because you were originally making something up or were unsure of yourself
2. You spend more time than you’d care to admit thinking about whether you should write “Creator of” or “Founder of” when describing your role.
3. You purposely do not “like” or comment on people who post their successes/wins online. “Just signed a new client today!” “Can’t believe I got published in XYZ Magazine!” It’s not that you hate them directly, it’s that you hate the success or joy they’re seemingly experiencing without having checked in with you first.
4. You have contemplated buying – or have bought – twitter followers or Facebook fans on sites like this, this, or this. You just hope no one notices that your most recent 3,000 Twitter followers are all from Belarus.
5. Your online emotional well-being demented psychosis can be summarized as follows:
– If someone follows you or retweets you but they only have 45 followers, they’re worthless
– If someone unsubscribes from your newsletter, they’re assholes
– If someone doesn’t hire you, they’re idiots
– If someone does hire you, they’re crazy because you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing yet
6. You say you love feedback but you secretly hate anyone who disagrees with your vision, especially in the beginning. You know you need feedback to reign in expectations, but it doesn’t mean you want to hear it. Feedback too early is like root pulling, not branch trimming.
7. When someone asks you the inevitable, “So what do you do?” you react as if you’ve just been called out in a court of law out for being a fraud. So you answer defensively with 10 times the amount of words as you need to.
(This is also precisely why you don’t like going to networking events anymore.)
8. When asked, “Have you heard of/read/seen _____ ?” you excitedly answer, “Yes!” and then immediately question this tactic because you indeed have no idea what they’re talking about. If they go deeper into the subject, you are quick to answer with something like, “I only skimmed it,” or “I haven’t actually used them though,” or whatever statement allows you to save face but still be a member of the in-crowd…as you now scurry off pretending you have to answer a phone call from a “client.”
(This is also precisely why you really don’t like going to networking events anymore.)
9. Speaking of clients, you say things like, “I work with small businesses,” or “ I always tell my clients,” but if someone were to ask, “Like who?” you’d be stumped.
10. You say, “Let me check my schedule” when you know damn well you don’t have anything going on at whatever time was suggested.
11. You seem to have “just run out of business cards” all the time. This is because you:
– don’t have any cards, or
– hate your current cards, and would rather not explain what your cards are going to look like/say in some indefinite future time period
(Seriously. Screw networking events.)
When No One’s Looking
12. You make up names of potential clients you “had dinner with” to put on the top of receipts so you can write it off at tax time.
While we never want the dark side to take us over completely, we can’t pretend that we’re emotionless to the toils and tribulations of creating our own businesses. So, laugh about it. You’ll need the humor. May the force be with you.
What am I missing? I know there’s tens more. Share your early stage entrepreneurial psychoses in the comments below.