In the past year, I went from having a corporate job of 10 years, to starting my own business. It’s a fascinating experience, being “out on your own,” although I have found that this isn’t really the case. My days are filled with loads of amazing people.
As a business owner, one thing I feel is the need to constantly prove myself. In many ways, this is the nature of running a business, that for every client, customer, or student that I want to work with, I have to start from scratch and 100% prove to them that the value I offer will have a specific and measurable benefit on their life or business. That no one is entering into a partnership with me lightly – they have limited resources, limited time, and very specific needs.
When I worked in the corporate world, my role stretched across divisions and brands. Even though I reported into one specific person, I worked on projects for quite a few different departments, each of whom had specific expectations of me. That experience is still a world apart from having to 100% prove yourself before you can agree on moving forward with a project.
I spoke to a lot of business owners before venturing out on my own, and one thing I heard again and again is that their biggest challenge is managing their emotions. That a slow period in business could turn into the end of a business if they get cold feet. That many entrepreneurs get tired of having to constantly prove themselves with each new client, just to land a contract, let alone do the work.
For myself, I have loved this process so far. And like all things, a good sports analogy helps explain things…
When you “make the team” as an athlete, that is a huge validation. You have proven yourself to the organization and they are committing their resources and banking their future on you. But making the team is not enough. As an athlete, you have to prove your value in every single game. Every loss is a threat to your career. Every win is achieved because of hundreds of hours of practice, and balancing dozens of variables during the course of a very intense game. You have to 100% prove yourself to every team you face. Your success or failure is calculated in hard numbers, and printed for the world to see.
And that is a lot of pressure for anyone, even for people who “thrive” under pressure.
While I have always dreamed of work/life balance, I am coming to accept that there is none, and that any pressure that comes with running your own business is necessary and healthy. That the need to constantly prove yourself forces you to grow, innovate, build your skills, be relevant and evolve.
That this process of constantly proving yourself makes my business stronger, and the services I offer to others, become even more valuable.