As an entrepreneur, I found it easy to move from one project or problem to another. But, when I had to manage the detail I felt excessive entrepreneurial pressure. It caused me and others to carefully analyse the workload involved before committing to managing the detail. Entrepreneurs find extraordinary things in places other people never think to look.
A Case Study by Peter Sergeant
Entrepreneurial pressure emerges when you have to start managing
One lesson I learned the hard way was how entrepreneurial pressure impacts outcomes. Often after becoming involved with a new company or a new project I started to struggle. It is difficult to move from being an entrepreneur to managing the details.
No sooner had I set the direction when difficulties started to occur. I often became bogged down in administrative tasks and unable to keep the business or project moving forward. Whilst I could handle the administrative tasks of the day-to-day operations, I became uneasy because I knew there was more to be done in consolidating the future and to stay ahead of the game. The truth is, I become bored doing the same tasks over and over. I liked to do what entrepreneurs do best.
As a project started to come alive, people’s attitudes would change. I would have another battle on my hands. Suddenly everyone knew more than me about what needed to be done. This was despite the fact they had not been able to get things going by themselves, often after years of trying. They started to believe it was them, who had solved the problems. They would question my decisions, while often seeking the credit and limelight. The result was disruption to the direction that was set, killing my entrepreneurial spirit, replacing it with entrepreneurial pressure.
I spent considerable time empowering some people, only to have the relationship fall apart as their confidence grows. At times I have even guaranteed people’s bank accounts, only to have their egos get in the way as they emerged from the mire. You question whether people want your entrepreneurial skills in the first place. If you don’t want torturous pressure, be very careful about projects you take on and the personalities involved.
Moving from entrepreneur to manager
Without the luxury of a lot of time and a pot of money behind you, the entrepreneur often needs to be chief cook and bottle washer. They quickly become skilled at ‘everything’. In the early days, you will not have the luxury of outsourcing and must be very careful when it comes to time management. There are not enough hours in an entrepreneur’s day. An 80 hour week to me, was quite normal. I worked when work was there to be done, not according to the clock.
Entrepreneurs make things happen, but if they can’t they put themselves under pressure until they can.
Your time is worth more than money. This can be frustrating when you’re devoting much more time to operations than to entrepreneurial tasks. If you are being funded by others, it is often difficult for them to understand, entrepreneurial tasks need to be performed and outcomes need to mature.
As soon as a situation becomes stable, people suddenly believe they know what they have to do to obtain a successful outcome. What they fail to realise is, the entrepreneur’s job has not been completed until the situation is being properly managed on a day-by-day basis. Many people fail to give entrepreneurs ‘clear air’ in which to finish the job. Everyone has a role to play and I believe that failing to appreciate the entrepreneur’s role is at the heart of business and project failure.
What creates entrepreneurial pressure
Entrepreneurial pressure is real and should not be ignored. Entrepreneurs frequently struggle with excessive pressure which can be difficult to escape. Stress is a normal part of life, but it shouldn’t consume your life. When stress becomes a chronic problem, it’s time to do something about it. It’s important that you learn how to deal with it so you can move on. Following are some of the causes of entrepreneurial stress:
When a person’s actions don’t match their words
Everybody deserves somebody who can help them look forward to tomorrow, but alas some of the people you choose can’t deliver the help they promise. Often people are inconsistent and their actions don’t match their rhetoric which can be time consuming, stressful and frustrating. True friends in business and life will reveal themselves over time and are the ones to hang on to.
It is sometimes hard to relinquish a relationship. But as my father-in-law used to say “it’s better to have an empty house than a bad tenant”. Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do, although this can be very difficult if they are remote to you.
I have often been caught by people who exaggerate their skills and abilities. Because you draw up the budget based on their reassuring words, you may find months later they have all the excuses in the world for their non-performance. This is particularly so in the sales and marketing area. Your research tells you they could easily sell 20 items, but they say they will sell 100 and then actually deliver 5, and they still expect to be paid. I have often had to step into the sales role to save a situation and this is not always the best use of my time as an entrepreneur.
It is often said love means giving someone the chance to upset you while trusting they won’t. Unnecessary entrepreneurial pressure has often been my reward for trusting someone. However, I either find a new friend for life or learn another important lesson.
At the end of the day, you discover more about the good guys and bad guys. You can also receive real enjoyment from those who will totally surprise you. I try to live with the knowledge that whilst nice people often finish last, they’re more likely to finish well and feeling good. This is sometimes hard to come to terms with, but at least I sleep well.
Negativity and negative people
I now find it easy to let go of negative people and avoid negative situations as they are the destroyers of creativity and innovation and to be avoided at all costs. I don’t need the pressure they cause and I refuse to tolerate it, as there are more enjoyable people around.
Negative people can be a problem in a conversation when trying to get something off the ground. ‘I can’t see it working’, ‘where will you get the money? They can also kill off deals, causing entrepreneurial pressure because you have to clean up the damage.
Negative don’t usually understand they have done the wrong thing when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making. They have a way of spinning things in a negative direction because they are often small-time thinkers and very naive. I have tried countless times to help these people. As a consequence, I have had a very high failure rate with them and found it very draining being around them.
It’s not your age that holds you back, it is more likely an outdated way of thinking. Sometimes you can feel off centre, or out of control which can be a little scary, and it doesn’t help you to cope and do what you need to do, let alone doing something new or radical. You may feel like giving up as no matter how hard you try nothing. This is when I find the entrepreneurial pressure at its worst, as I like to feel on top of the tasks at hand.
Are you thinking too small? Do you have the fear of thinking big, or thinking outside the square? Overcoming adversity will not happen if you’re a shrinking violet, no one will deliver success on a platter to you. You have to take some action, even if it’s just picking up the phone and talking to someone who cares. “If it’s going to be, then it’s up to me”.
When it comes to new thinking or thinking big, the main drawback is the fear of failure. Fear can be overwhelming even for an entrepreneur and can take over the decision-making process until you become irrational and disorganised. Gather people around you that can help and encourage you to think as big as your entrepreneurial skills will allow you.
Too many people default to opportunities and roles that are available to them because they are not prepared to make mistakes. This means opting for comfort and avoiding opportunities that will test their determination to be successful.
Overconfidence in a project’s size
Successful entrepreneurs believe a lot of their ability to take on big projects, is an innate confidence and a desire to push them. Like the tortoise, you only make progress when you stick your neck out and take the risk of having it chopped off. Don’t ever think you can’t do it, instead become too busy thinking how you can start and entrepreneurial pressure will dissipate.
To others, taking the big step may be a huge risk. But if it is well considered, it could be the most exhilarating thing you have ever done. Experience helps you to consider things more thoroughly.
Unconstrained thinking can lead to even more pressure. You may say you don’t have time to plan with too many important things to do. But, if you think about it, planning your affairs to accomplish your goals is something worth doing and seeking help with?
Successful entrepreneurs generally have a strong sense of self and their ability to take on challenges which only increases with age. You become braver because you realise failing to achieve a goal is not the worst thing that can happen. If you procrastinate and over-think things, you won’t ever do them. Rarely will you have all the facts you need to make a decision, so you need to trust your intuition and experience and go for it?
In terms of risk mitigation, your risk appetite will play a big role. Identify the worst-case scenario, assess whether the outcome is something you can live with and then make a decision. Self-doubt is the enemy of all of us. Even though entrepreneurs are low-risk takers, learn to live and manage the risks rather than fear them. Be on a course of continuous improvement and learning about risk.
There’s no doubt about it, working ineffectively and inefficiently can have a huge impact on productivity and entrepreneurial pressure. This, in turn, can aggravate stress levels. For any entrepreneur, deploying first-rate time management skills is vital.
The key here is to plan ahead. Each working day, set aside time to plan your activities for the next day. Organise your day into small, manageable slots and set yourself a start and end time for each task. This kind of targeted focus will allow you to work in short but highly productive bursts and minimise the pressure.
When you give your best efforts to someone and are ignored it can be heartbreaking. They continue on with their lives without acknowledging what you have done for them. It is hard to accept the fact they didn’t respect you or what you did for them in the same way you had respected and cared for them. You don’t want to be wasting your time on ‘selfies’ or you can be quickly overloaded and paid poorly.
There comes a point when you have to let go and move on otherwise it will eat away at you. You think it’s too hard to let go until you actually do, then you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll find a way to put you there.
Sacrificing your situation and success
I believe life is about caring and sharing with others. I have no trouble helping anyone, but if they treat you like a bank, making withdrawals and without making any deposits, you start to feel the pressure and your reserves will not be there to do what you need to do.
It’s better to avoid people who persistently require you to make a sacrifice. Those who expect you to put up all the cash, manage the show, take all the risk and still give them an equal share of the accolades and the money.
Often people who complain are crying out for help. They may not be conscious of it and their comments may come across as complaints rather than requests. There are many people needing help but don’t know how to ask for it, or are too scared. Don’t confuse these people with the ‘bloodsuckers’. Always keep in mind if you don’t look after yourself first, you will not be able to help others.
Some people have excessive dependency and expect others to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. There are also many lazy people, who wait for others to perform the tasks they had agreed to do.
Stuck in situations you dislike
It’s better to be a failure at something you are passionate about than to succeed at doing something you dislike. Avoid the ‘dream takers’, don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams stop you from chasing yours.
Don’t be one of those who avoids the really important challenges in life because you are stuck in a bad situation. As entrepreneurs we like to ‘get on with it’ and if we don’t it leads to unnecessary entrepreneurial pressure.
Occasionally I have been stuck in the situation because I didn’t want to let anyone down including customers and other stakeholders. It can be pretty hard, but you have to make the tough decisions, preferably sooner rather than later. I have found that most people won’t care anyway and I have gone through a lot of personal pressure for nought.
It is very, rare to face a real fork in the road and know with 100% certainty that one way is the right way and the other is the wrong way. The key drivers of businesses, not-for-profit organisations, communities and projects are the attributes of entrepreneurship. Visioning, joining up the dots, problem-solving and action orientation are at the top of the list.
Worth noting is that businesses and organisations that are driving our communities and the lifestyle we treasure. This is something a lot of people still do not understand or accept. Entrepreneurial effort makes things work, http://goo.gl/uq9or1
Entrepreneurial pressure from being a perfectionist
An entrepreneurial perfectionist is an oxymoron and it has been one of my shortcomings. I like to dot the “I’s” and cross the “T’s”, and I have been known to delay decisions until conditions were perfect for the next move. I’ve often kicked myself for not allowing a project to proceed more quickly, thereby unleashing the creativity within me. Often I started projects and haven’t finished them because I was trying to change, improve or analyse something.
The answer is to stop getting caught up in the details and operational issues. Stick to being a perfectionist on creating the big pictures. Perhaps you need a good mentor or coach to help you break this pressure creating a bad habit.
Putting things off
Putting things off for another day is called procrastination something we have all been guilty of. I find that when I procrastinate it creates unnecessary anxiety and pressure and blocks my ability as an entrepreneur.
Sometimes it’s good to wait, even though it can be counterintuitive and seen by others as procrastinating. I have been known to do my best work under pressure, as do many other entrepreneurs I have come across.
Paper shuffling may be stress relieving but it’s certainly not goal achieving. However, to defend myself, when I begin a project I put it away for a period of time, allowing myself time to mature the ideas and concepts involved. Some entrepreneurs have very short attention spans which can put them under pressure particularly if they have a deadline to meet.
The blame game
Entrepreneurs tend to blame themselves for even the slightest problem. This is something I have never been able to stop, however, I have managed to control situations and move on more quickly. Some spend time feeling sorry for themselves instead of focusing their efforts on overcoming the problem and working out how to move on.
Wallowing in self-pity and blaming others is something I have learned to avoid. You can expect many ups and downs, so share the ups and learn from the downs and move on. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult if people have been sabotaging or undermining you to make themselves look good.
Spread too thin
Undertaking too many activities may result in none being done well or on time and resulting in missed opportunities. Entrepreneurs are always optimistic and take on too much.
Like the sun, too little or too much is not good for you. Having too much on the go at any one time can gnaw away at your ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I stretch myself too thin, I soon feel the pressure, become uncomfortable and find it difficult to take the actions I need to.
Relieve entrepreneurial pressure with hope
Sooner or later most entrepreneurs encounter stressful periods in their life. Juggling personal and professional responsibilities can be challenging, to say the least. But, the one thing an entrepreneur should never let go of is hope. Remind yourself of your aspirations and keep pushing forward.
If you keep your hopes up, things will come together even though it may not turn out exactly the way you had anticipated. You will look back on the hard times and how you fought your way through it . Dreams don’t become a reality without hard work, there’s certainly not much luck in it. My aim is to encourage you, no matter what your circumstances, never give up. Entrepreneurial stress is real but can be minimised and hope restored.
Entrepreneurial pressure can be relieved by understanding entrepreneurial characteristics and how they impact on you, http://goo.gl/CV31Gu
“The best way to avoid entrepreneurial pressure is to keep creating things and solving problems”. Peter Sergeant
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had, every day I’m learning something new”. Richard Branson