The Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster

July 24th, 2018 | Posted in Business by

When my husband David and I owned a construction company we wrote an article called “the remodeling roller coaster”. This article gave clients an overview of what a major remodeling project would entail – the whole messy ordeal. We warned clients that a remodeling journey would begin with lots of excitement, then it would take many ups, downs and unexpected turns. When a client starts a renovation process they most often love their contractor, are excited about the project, and can’t wait to see every little bit of progress. Then it gets messy. Walls come down, supplies get delayed, there’s dust is everywhere, then those same happy clients begin to doubt their contractor. Yet, it’s not all bad. Yes, there are bad days, but there are also days when things look good, progress is made, and fun is being had.  It’s a ride for sure.

Starting a business and being an entrepreneur is also much like a roller coaster ride. It’s wild, messy and sometimes terrifying. It’s the best and hardest ride I’ve ever taken. Perhaps your ride with your business feels a bit like the one described below.

To go on a roller coaster, you must first decide to go for it. Before you get in line, you ask yourself if the ride is safe, assess how scary it may be and how long you’ll have to wait. Then you decide to take the RIDE even though it looks intimidating. Maybe you’ve contemplated business ownership for a long time, maybe it was sudden. Whatever the case you decided to start a business. You have looked at it, and while you may have been scared, you were ready and willing to get in line.

Once you’ve decided to take the ride, most often you must wait in line for a bit. During this phase of business ownership, you are moving forward.  You may be working on writing a business plan, getting funding or trying to get your first few clients. All you can think about and talk about during this phase is your business idea. There are nerves, but the need to move forward, is greater than the fear.

At this point, it’s still fun. You may be scared, but you have a plan, and you are all in. You are in love with your business and the idea of not doing it is scarier than doing it. You buckle in. You now have the money you need, you may have a website, and a client or two, but you’re still in the waiting area. You’ve not yet taken off. You are prepared, your buckle is on and then you begin moving. [Gulp]

When you first begin moving it’s so exciting. You can see the top and you are ready to go. You may even have your hands in the air in complete surrender of what’s coming.  You are sure it’s only going to go up from here on out. You have your idea honed, your marketing materials ready and maybe a few sales. Those first few sales are so invigorating – it’s like feeling the wind on your face on a beautiful day.

As you continue to ascend that first hill panic sets in. You ask yourself, “What have I done?” “What was I thinking?” “Can I do this?” “What if I fail?” “What if people don’t buy what I’m selling?” You’re still very excited but self-doubt creeps in. Maybe others have looked at you like, “what are you thinking.” Or maybe you don’t have the clients pouring in on day one like you thought you would. Whatever the case, the ride up that first hill is full of both excitement and fear.

Then the ride goes over the top. If you had your hands in the air in preparation for the downward ride you may be tempted to grab back on to the bar, to grab onto anything that is safe in order to restore some sense of normalcy. It’s fun, you’re celebrating some success but this first downward rush may involve unhappy customers, too many orders/not enough orders, intense fear or finding out there are just some many things you do not know about running a business. And then before you can dwell too far in the muck, another uphill climb starts. You endure the ups and then downs, then you hit a curve.

A curve is something you did NOT plan for in your business plan. It comes out of the blue and can turn our business upside down. Often the curves on a roller coaster feel like they knock our joints out of place – they are often harsh and fast. Curves are when people quit, exhaustion sets in or we cannot meet our financial obligations due to slow sales. Curves throw us off our game, they are unsettling. Many at this point wish they could run back to the safety of a 9-5 job. There are some who do. Then there are those who persist – they decide the curves, the ups and the downs are worth it – they go all in.

Going all in means you surrender to the ride, the journey of entrepreneurship. You let go, put your hands up in the air and scream with all you have. Going all in means that you accept the good, the bad and the ugly. You ride in the rain and when the weather is perfect – you just keep showing up and running your business because there is nowhere else you’d rather be.



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