What to do when you hit the "starting a business is too hard" wall

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thewallEven the most optimistic and motivated aspiring entrepreneur will reach a point where frustration or anxiety grinds progress to a halt.  This is otherwise known as “hitting the wall.”

It can happen when doing things you hate such as:

  • Making sales and marketing calls
  • Trying to crank out a first draft of a book or product
  • Filling out government or legal forms (my personal most hated activity)
  • Creating a business plan

What can you do to not let frustration derail your dreams?  My five recommendations in this week’s 7 1/2 minute podcast (found here) include:

  1. Scream, whine, wail, swear and complain
    Give voice to those screaming demons inside that say that they are frustrated, angry, dismayed, disillusioned or tired.  Just don’t do it in a public place, or you may be arrested or lose your job.
  2. Step away
    Remove yourself from the physical environment that is causing you stress as quickly as you can.
  3. Find a source of immediate beauty or calm
    Get yourself to a full-body extra-sensory environment that invokes calm, physical relaxation and peace.  The more senses that you can engage in this exercise the better.
  4. Reconnect with the reason behind your entrepreneurial endeavor
    Remember what excited you about this idea in the first place.  Was it lifestyle?  Contribution?  Meaning?  Money?  If the idea doesn’t hold water anymore, let it go, and free up space for something else.  Also identify what resources you could use to make the endeavor easier for yourself.
  5. Make a very clear and specific goal to complete one task
    Choose one thing that is very feasible to accomplish and do it.  Celebrate your success, and get back on the path of step by step progress on your plans.

We all get frustrated sometimes – it is part of the human condition.  Don’t let a moment of frustration derail your dreams.

What do you do when you hit a wall?

And for those of you who pay attention to these things, you may notice that this podcast came out on Tuesday instead of Monday.  Let me just say that walls don’t just come up when you are starting a business.  It never ends.  Thank god for the cheap therapy of podcasting!  🙂

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13 Responses to “What to do when you hit the "starting a business is too hard" wall”

  1. I would also like to take you back to your recommendation to read Steven Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art”. Based on your recommendation, I ordered the book which came yesterday and was consumed immediately. Probably the most valuable book I’ve read in a long time. In dealing with those moments when it all seems too hard, it helps to know that it’s only your Resistance trying to derail you.

    Thanks for the recommendation

  2. Break the undesirable task into tiny chunks. Do chunk one first thing in the morning, tomorrow, before anything else. Don’t stop until said tiny first chunk is complete. Then take a break and do something else that is fun, then launch into chunk two. The feeling of finishing something, even if it is just a little piece of something, is often enough to get me moving.

    Very much enjoy your blog!

    Alan

  3. Tom Gimbel says:

    I would agree with #4. You have to remember why you started your business and refocus. Remember the day doesn’t start or end anymore…it lasts forever! I found that when I hit a rough patch and couldn’t finish tasks during the business hours, those were the weird times I found myself again. When I couldn’t sleep at night, rather than read or roll around in bed, I got up at 2:00 am and came to the office and created ideas that hadn’t been “popping” for some time. Same thing after dinner. Shaking up the routine helps you find yourself.

  4. I like #2 and #5. When I had my idea, I started to write a business plan and got overwhelmed with the enormity of it all. I stepped away from it for about a month to evaluate if I wanted to do it. (Of course this wasn’t really a conscious decision, however.) After that time, I came back and realized I still thought about it all the time, and how was I going to get started?

    That’s where #5 came in and how I decided to start my blog. It was the first step, and a clear goal. It feels good to be moving forward! Great advice, thank you.

  5. I’m having one of those days…

    …when I’ve got tons to do both in on my business but I feel like I’m getting nothing done and I’m flitting about between windows on my P.C. (well actually, J’s macbook) getting nothing useful done except the odd email,

  6. Bobby Saini says:

    I got this feeling a few days ago when working on a proposal. Generally what helps is just removing myself from the work environment and taking a nice long walk. Thanks for the great post.

  7. I have been hitting the wall working on my second book. I have found that putting it away for awhile, but not too long, gives me some perspective.

    The idea of doing one small thing each day has worked for me. If I don’t feel like writing, I might just do something like proofreading. Usually doing something gets the juices going. .

    When I feel discouraged and want to give up the project, I give myself a pep talk and tell myself I can’t give up when I have already put so much work into it.

    Mary Greenwood, Author of How To Negotiate Like A Pro and working on How To Mediate Like A Pro.

  8. Matt says:

    Good list, I think that number 4 is probably the most important in my opinion. If you don’t keep reconnecting with what’s driving you then you can easily loose focus.

    The other thing is to make sure you don’t have too expectations (at least at first)….lofty goals is a completely different matter 🙂

  9. omodudu says:

    I think I missed it at #5. I will remember this for next time. I am a fan. Keep up the good work.

  10. I just want to add one thing that has helped me immensely-Don’t expect to be really good at it in the beginning.

    Starting a business is about doing so many things for the first time, and you can’t always do them well on the first shot. Although this can be very frustrating, I have learned to expect it and go with it.

    My mantra when I was in the start up phase of my practice was:

    “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” Martha Beck

  11. Lea says:

    Numbers 2 & 3 do it for me – but only because right now, I can step away and immerse myself in the gorgeous, azure blue Caribbean sea.

    My favourite position? Floating face down, with my eyes open, looking at the amazing turquoise of the sea contrasted with the golden sand, with that unique sound of the ocean from under the water. Of course, I can only do this for about a minute at a time!!!

    But it never fails to inspire me again and ideas & motivation come flooding back, making me keen to get back to my desk.

    When I can’t do that, then no. 1 will do!

  12. J says:

    This is exactly what I do! I like to do this in the 2, 1, 3, 4, 5 order. (Since I have to do them all I guess I’m really a piece of work 😉 )
    Also, my twist on number 1 is to do an intense workout while doing number 1 in my head.

  13. April Groves says:

    I love #5. Sometimes the task, project, LIFE, can seem so big…you just don’t know where start.

    But, you are right. Just pick a spot and start there.

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