Confusion: The elephant in the room that entrepreneurs refuse to talk about.
What do you do when you: the entrepreneur, the expert, the leader of the pack is confused?
As any business owner knows, starting and managing a business is not a one-trick-pony. There is no perfect solution and growth happens gradually over time (unless you possess a crystal ball that can look into the future).
Building a business takes dedication, motivation, talent and vision. It first starts with excitement, enthusiasm and grand visions. We work, slave, invest our blood, sweat and tears for the ultimate dream of hitting it big. Work is work, no matter how you slice it.
For some, especially the creative-minded entrepreneur, it is almost too easy to become lost in our own grand visions. With manifestos, mission statements, core values, product roadmaps and business strategies scattered throughout our day-to-day operations, it is inevitable to begin swimming in your thoughts.
It starts with an email starred in your inbox titled, “2019 acquisition strategy” then, “How my company 10x’ed it’s revenue”, followed by “Must read: How I made 50K in 2 weeks”. Grandiose ideas begin to overflow with confusion, to the point of no return.
Simple questions like, “What now?” become the norm.
While rebranding my coaching and consulting business, I fell into a seemingly complex world of confusion. From an outsiders perspective, I appeared normal, calm and collected. Others commented that my confusion involves a very simple answer. “Well heck, if the answer is so simple, how can one explain the utter chaos in my internal dialog?” I thought to myself.
But this is where it gets tricky. No entrepreneur ever wants to admit that they are lost and confused. The ego prevents us from being honest with ourselves, even the world because, well, impressions matter. Or do they?
To me, impressions did matter (past tense). I thought that my reputation was hinged on the general impression of people I do not personally know. However, I gradually realized that the only person that was suffering was ME. Who am I to pretend that I am perfect and indestructible? As Stephen Hawking said, ‘The Universe does not allow perfection’.
Oops, I guess it is not entirely possible to be perfect all the time.
As a Fortune 100 brand strategist and consultant, I began working with influencers and entrepreneur clients, teaching them business and branding strategies to help increase visibility, momentum and growth. I felt the need to learned more and more about marketing, sales strategies, funnels, webinars and quick hacks. Even with 20 years of experience, I felt that if I continued to learn and grow, I could better serve my clients.
I should have seen this coming, but my hunger and desire to learn got me sucked into a convoluted web of information that does not make me a better coach or mentor. Too soon was I comparing myself to the other ‘experts’ in the industry because surely (I thought) I am not good enough. That, was enough to confuse me.
Let me tell you something, confusion happens to the best of us. It slowly starts to corrode our self-confidence where we begin to doubt our capabilities. We begin each day with the same morning ritual, grab a cup and sit down in front of the computer and silently say to ourselves, “If I finish (insert specific task), I will have more clarity”. But is that true? If you finish that task, will you truly gain more clarity? It did not, for me.
Confusion can last hours, days or weeks. For me, it lasted weeks. I thought I was going mad and was disillusioned about my skills and capabilities. I began to feel like an imposter in my own world. As someone who’s worked with Disney, Warner Bros and even the Team USA Olympics website, I felt like a sore loser. I cried while holding my glass of wine, secretly wishing that someone would come and save me from my thoughts.
“Am I doing the right thing? Maybe I’m not cut out for this.. perhaps it’s time for a j..o..b..” I’d say to myself. I felt downright embarrassed by all of this, if I’m being frank.
Then, something profound happened. When I reached my breaking point, I started reaching out to people I trusted. They were very understanding, accepting and surprisingly helpful. I began to feel like my allies were cheering for me the entire time. It was only my ego that had managed to convince me that I am not worthy. I was both grateful and shocked by how easy it was to relieve some of the pressure.
In my desperation, I also looked up job descriptions and discovered that companies are desperately in need of brand strategists (Me? Yes!) This gave me the brilliant idea of reaching out to them for consulting work, which is exactly how I built my agency business back in 2007.
Sometimes being stuck can force you to think outside of the box. The answers are always within us, but it’s okay to seek support and assistance. The only person who judges you is you.
Though my confusion took days to finally lift, I learned a very important lesson: First, we must get out of our own way and reach out. Second, it’s not a bad thing to diversify and crowdsource a solution among trusted friends.
It is at this precise moment that many entrepreneurs chose to quit their journey into entrepreneurship and return to a job – simply because it’s easier being told what to do instead of being proactive.
But let me tell you this. Fear is an emotion and when used correctly, it can teach you more about yourself than anyone else. Confusion is a state of not being able to think clearly. Depending on where you are emotionally, the answers are available to you if you trust yourself enough to reach out to trusted friends and advisors.
Letting the ego dictate your emotional state will result in dissatisfaction and distaste. If possible, find the courage to trust the journey and follow it through. There’s a lesson waiting for you to discover. And when you find it, everything will make sense and your confusion will be something of the past.
Author: Sonya is a former tech-founder, entrepreneur, brand strategist and business coach, helping businesses and entrepreneurs craft extraordinary brands out of ordinary chaos. Her favorite topics are brand strategies, user-experience, digital marketing, emotional intelligence, authenticity and how to use storytelling to create momentum. Connect with her on Linkedin, Facebook or Schedule a call here.