This is the first of our new blog series with Business Psychologist and Coach, Charlotte Sheridan.
So you want to set up your own business? Or you’ve just started. Maybe you’re killing it already (tell us how and share the love).
Whatever stage you’re at, remember one thing. When the flight is turbulent do what the crew says…. “Put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else.”
This is the first rule of survival. If you run out of oxygen, you can’t run your business.
We are in the eye of the storm. COVID-19 is a body blow to us all and we can’t predict where it’ll take us. We can’t know what our businesses will look like in 12, 18, 24 months time.
But you can take control of one thing. Set yourself up with the right resources. Focus on the stuff that will keep you on track.
I’m suggesting you create a Virtual Board of Directors. A group of people who will help you and your business stay fit. Then you’re more likely to weather the storm.
I’ve been running interviews with 100 people who have left or are leaving their paid jobs behind - Spoon by Spoon: why we must feed ourselves with wisdom.
Some have set up new businesses, many are changing career, others are re-training. They range from 28 to 68 years old. It’s never too late to become an entrepreneur!
Whilst each person is unique and their circumstances differ, they do share similar strategies. See what some of my interviewees have said below.
Check who can talk to, who cares about you? It could be friends or even a counsellor/ therapist. Someone you’re comfortable sharing how you’re feeling.
“I've got friends who I've had for years and when I told them that I was leaving work behind, and was going to set up my own business they were so happy for me. They said it's about time, we've been waiting to hear this. So I've got fantastic support out there from family, my good friends.”
“My friends celebrated the highs and shuffled me through the lows.”
“I had a couple of really good friends. I would have broken without them. I poured my soul out to them and they kept me going,”
Wise Aunts (or Uncles)
They don’t have to be blood relatives, but they do need to support and mentor you. And they need to care about your business. They should be people you can bounce ideas off and who’ll give you objective feedback.
“I got myself half a dozen people [in the same area] who were there to help me when things got a bit sticky - when I was having a bad day, something had gone wrong or I was confused and needed a sounding board. A tribe as I call it. It’s been invaluable for me.”
“I have a coach and he's brilliant. He’s really supportive, and he's certainly the person who I go to. Just having to cope with the knock backs and being told thanks but no thanks which happens to me quite a lot.”
This doesn’t need to be an actual coach, just someone who just looks out for your health. It may even be you. They (or you) will need to help you stay fit enough to run your business. You need to be on top of your eating, sleeping and exercise.
“I’ve taken up Jujitsu and that's been a really amazing outlet for me. Because it's part physical, but part mental.”
“I cut out sugar and processed carbs and notice a difference in my mental health and how I feel. More veg and fruit and my mind feels clear and less sluggish. “
“I suffer from mental chatter, a lot of noise going on all of the time and the voices are not always positive. Yoga gives me a break from stressing out about everything. The physical element of being flexible and stronger and the mental element of finding peace of mind.”
Where do you find your information (outside of the Pop Up Business School of course)? If you’ve got a question where do you go? Some people find networking groups useful. Others use digital resources (e.g. TED TALKS and blogs) or reading books.
“I run a network of women leaders in communications which has been quite important. I'm also trying to broaden my network to people who run small businesses.”
“I'm reading Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. It's about learning from mistakes. The argument is that the more open you are to your failures, the more opportunity you have to learn and really make that kind of seismic leap into another level of performance.”
Your older Self
If you could go back in time what wisdom would you share with your younger self?
What do you wish you had known then? Remind yourself of how much you already know, how much you’ve already learned - If you could turn back time, would you be more brave?
This is what some of my interviewees said to their younger selves:
“Worry less about what might happen. You won’t get lost. You will find your way.”
“Don’t get too upset about what’s bothering you now. With time and distance most things become less important.”
“Nothing’s black or white. Not every decision is the end of the world. Don’t be so scared of everything.”
“Life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes it’s things that you really love and it's surprising. But it's okay if things don’t go according to plan.”
So, have you got a Virtual Board of Directors in place? Take this questionnaire to find how strong it is and actions you can take to improve it.
Make sure you check every three months to find out whether your Virtual Board of Directors is helping or hindering your business.