How to Persevere When You Can’t Make Magic

YouTube Preview ImageI want to make a deal with you, my fellow entrepreneurs.

Right here, right now.

We are going to stop putting the terms ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘overnight success’ in the same sentence.

Why? For the same reason that magazines are being pressured to stop photoshopping their models: it sets unrealistic standards and expectations.

You’ve Been Lied To

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And while you aren’t attempting to build a mediterranean metropolis, it remains an important mantra for all entrepreneurs. Name any ‘overnight sensation’ and I will tell you about the countless failed companies, VC rejections, and misguided go-to-market strategies that lie in their past.

Ron J. Williams, the founder of Snapgoods and Knodes, is right: entrepreneurship can be magical.

But in between the high from your product launch, and the celebratory drinks after closing your first round of funding, there are some bumps. And with those bumps come sleepless nights, anxiety about the future of your company, and some occasional self-doubt.

According to Jason Nazar, when times are tough, you need to channel your inner superhero: “Like Batman, you have to keep pressing on to the very last breath. Challenges are overcome by wholeheartedly committing to unrelenting persistence.”

The true measure of an entrepreneur isn’t his or her ability to ride the waves of success, but how they handle the bumps – the times where no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make magic.

Indulge In a Little Nostalgia

If When you have those days where it feels like the dream is crashing down around you, stop for a minute.

Remember your ‘why’. Why you got started. Why you chose the pure insanity and chaos of entrepreneurship. Why you have poured your heart into iteration after iteration of your model.

Whether you find your ‘why’ at the center of a labyrinth like Cheryl Yeoh, or in the company of a great shiraz on your couch – you’ll be glad you made the time.

It can be anything from a desire for independence, to fame and fortune – or simply to create a product that changes the way someone interacts with the world around them.

Just like how looking at a photo of you and your partner in happy times can make frustration melt away during a fight, pausing to recall your ‘why’ can be a powerful way to get through the times when the magic is in short supply.

Finish Every Day with Champagne

Ok, maybe not EVERY day (that can get pricey, and startup pockets aren’t deep)…the point that I’m trying to make is that it’s important to celebrate the little wins along the way.

It is highly possible that a week where everything is going to hell in a handbasket will turn into a month, or three months. Those are just the ups and downs of the startup life. At a certain point it becomes all that you see. You become so focused on the daily struggle that you start to feel discouraged.

Hiten Shah, the founder of KISSMetrics has witnessed this first-hand, and is concerned to see so many people “looking at entrepreneurship like it’s a checklist to complete”.

Waiting for a major win to celebrate is the easiest way to burn out. Fast.

The best way to avoid this is to break down major undertakings into smaller, clear goals – and to reward yourself along the way. By celebrating the little wins in between the major gains, it becomes easier to make it through the tough times.

Cold Feet

This last piece of advice might surprise you…you need to give yourself the permission to quit.

That’s right – you have to allow yourself the option of ditching your startup at the ‘altar’ and becoming a runaway bride founder.

Almost inevitably, you will run into a wall. It will feel insurmountable at the time. Stop for a moment and ask yourself: “what would I rather be doing with my life?”. If you’re a true entrepreneur – you won’t be able to come up with an answer.

It’s normal to have cold feet and to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Sometimes, you just need to indulge in the fantasy of letting it all go. But if you’re truly where you’re meant to be, you’ll quickly realize that despite the challenging lows of the startup life, you really wouldn’t have it any other way.

Some nights it will get hard. And those nights might last for the next one, two, seven years.

The founder life is hardly magic. But that doesn’t mean the moments along the way can’t be magical.

That part is up to you.

How do you get through the times where you can’t make magic?

About the author:

Heather Anne Carson is Co-Founder of Onboardly in charge of Public Relations. She believes that good PR is all about good ideas and a ton of hustle; not a hefty Rolodex. She’s helped her clients secure coverage in publications like Inc, Entrepreneur, Shape Magazine, New York Times Magazine, BetaKit, TechCrunch, PandoDaily, TechCocktail, and Mashable among other industry- specific outlets.

She’s also a mentor for Atlantic Canada’s PropelICT Launch36 Program, Toronto’s Extreme Startups, Montreal’s FounderFuel and Guelph, Ontario-based

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  • Danny Halarewich

    Yes. Thank you.