A few things I’ve learnt over the years of being an Entrepreneur. This changes for me all the time, our challenges become easier to tackle and what scares us varies. Ultimately, you learn so much and I wanted to share what I’ve learnt so far.
Sleep is everything
I never used to sleep much. Maybe even 4 hours a night. But over time operating like that was not sustainable. I was sleeping like that even before I became an Entrepreneur. There could be many reasons why I wasn’t sleeping, maybe because I knew I was conflicted with what I was doing in my professional life. When I became an Entrepreneur; I was excited by what I was doing day to day and what I was building. But that takes days, months, years. Building a company isn’t overnight – your sleep is important. You need to function and and to feel balanced. It has been through many mistakes that I cherish my sleep a lot more and make this a top priority in my life. Believe it.
You don’t need every client to be successful
One thing that I always like to reiterate to Entrepreneurs starting out is that they will be rejected so many times. You also do not need to win business from every man and his dog to be successful. Some people are just not ready for you. I have learnt to not take this too personally. Who is anyone else to determine my success? The people who work with me and my company are the ones who believe in you and your vision. The ones who don’t; you don’t need. Stop trying to win everyone over. Because at the end of the day – you don’t need to.
You can’t give away your time to every single person
We all want to help. I’m the one person who believes I’m a superhuman and that I can help every single person. The reality is you can’t. I don’t mean for this to be unkind or dismissive. But how I look at things now is that the more I spread awareness about cyber security the more people I will be able to help at scale. The other thing people forget is that you need to ensure you are feeling 100% before you can help others. I believe in helping people at scale and that takes time to build up. When you’re stuck doing things at a smaller scale, you lose focus on the bigger picture. Ensure you manage your time with this, as people don’t mean to take away your time. People are just looking for answers and when they find someone who they believe have the answers they gravitate towards that person.
Saying ‘no’ shows strength in your character
We as humans always want to say yes. I understand that and I get that. I was guilty of saying yes to everything. But then I found it compromised me in terms of my time and what was actually important to me. It can be hard to say no, and still be polite at the same time. We don’t like to hurt other people’s feelings or upset them by saying no to something they have asked us to do. It shows ultimate strength when we can say no to others and still hold our head high without feeling guilty. This is something I am learning to master and to respect my own boundaries. You can’t allow other people to dictate to you about what you should do. If someone asks you to do something and you don’t believe need – then say no. Learning to say no gracefully is something that has really helped me get my time back.
That things don’t always go to plan
I used to be anal retentive about how long things take to get done. Because A,B,C… seems easy and logical to follow that pattern. That is true, but unfortunately life happens and things just happen. Unplanned events happen and unfortunately life and business isn’t so linear. Having a plan is fantastic. But the way in which you envision going about achieving what you set out to do will change, because “stuff” gets in the way. I have taken this philosophy in my stride the last few years, about the way things get done might be slightly different to how I planned. Acceptance towards how something got done was something that changed my outlook on how the business was being built. I have perspective now to see that I don’t need to be like that in order for things to be completed in the same way I thought about them initially.
Things do take longer than you think
Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s hard when we want things to happen quickly and to the timeframe we have in our head. It can be disheartening when things we set out to do aren’t moving at the pace we would like and at the same cadence we thought about in our head. Good things take time. Rushing something out the door is the worst thing you can do. I’d prefer to deploy something of quality that is late – than something that is rushed, not finished to meet some arbitrary deadline in our heads. To bring my theory back to Aesop’s fables and learning from them as a child still resonates with me about being the hare and the tortoise. I was formerly always the hare, but now I am learning to be a blend between the both of them. I still don’t like going slow, so I don’t think the tortoise suits me.
Being more understanding of others and their hardships
Stress is relative. If you take away a child’s blue pencil they may cry and go out of control, but that pencil is their world and you have taken it away from them. Stress is different for every single person and how they go about managing this. Having empathy and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes has been something that has made me realise that people hurt in different ways and people are impacted by different things and not the same things that impact me. I have learnt a lot from other people and listening to their hardships. It has made me more grateful and more appreciative of others and their journey.
Listening more; whether it is good or bad
We all like listening when someone says something that is music to our ears. But it can be a hard pill to swallow when people say negative things about us. One thing I have learnt is to listen to everyone whether it is good or bad and if someone says something critical I assess whether there is any merit to what they are saying and then take that on board. People will always say negative things, which demonstrates a clear projection of their life and the struggles they’re going through. When I see people write things to me online I can tell by a mile that they’re projecting their own insecurities or troubles onto me. This has taken a while to determine what someone’s true intention is and not something to take on board if this does happen. Having this level of insight has taken years for me to understand. You also need to hear the many wonderful things people say about you, but also the critical things people say about you too – but neither should impact your ego.
The grass is always never greener on the other side
Social media proves nothing. We are constantly checking over the fence to see what our neighbour is doing and what I mean by that is checking others on social media. Whether that is professionally or personally. We make judgement calls on how :well” someone is doing based on what we see online and what we believe is reality. As we all know, a lot of people project an image of what they want others to see. What I have been hearing recently is that a lot of people do struggle whether they are an Entrepreneur or not. I want to be able to be vulnerable and share the realness of my story and the things I have gone through. I want to be able to communicate to others the struggles that I have, which are just the same as any other person. A way I have learnt to cope with comparing myself to others is by not following them; out of sight is out of mine.
Managing expectations with everyone; including your family
This is something that has taken me some time to balance and manage. I want to ensure I provide adequate time to my team, clients, family, friends and my partner. This is something that has been the driving factor to say no to others to ensure I give enough time to the people who need me the most. One thing I have learnt is being upfront and honest. Letting people know what is going on. I don’t necessarily have to over share or go into specifics, but letting people know I have stuff going on helps others to understand where I’m at. I’m a big believer in communicating your feelings appropriately. No one is in my mind other than me, so how can I expect them to know every single thing that goes on, only unless I tell them. I have set up approaches for each person I deal with on how to communicate to them, and that they will understand what is going on in my world. I have also seen people become so understanding that is has allowed us to deepen our relationship.
That not everyday is fun and it’s OK to not like your job some days
There is this perception that when you do something you love – that everyday you will love it. That is completely not true. There are days where I really dislike what I do. It could be from anything that has happened in the day or that people don’t really understand and that it can sometimes be a lonely space. I’m grateful and lucky enough to do something that I truly and deeply have a gravitational pull towards. But again, I’m a human being, I have faults and floors. I have my days like anyone else has – which means not loving work that day. The true strength is always how you come back from that feeling. How do I get myself out of feeling like this? This has taken practice and I can’t say I’m world class at it, but the more times I feel like that the quicker my recovery takes to feel happy and fulfilled again. I believe that stems from being resilient and facing adversity at a younger age. It’s not how many times we fall off our horse that matters, but it’s how quickly we can get back on and continue to ride. I can say that because I was a horse rider all of my life until I was 18 and when I would fall I always had to get back on as quickly as I could and that has been a metaphor I have stood by ,because I’ve actually lived it.
Doing more fun stuff; work is only one component of you and our life on this planet
Believe it or not, but I actually have a life outside of my work and all the other things I do. I learnt this the hard way; by focussing everything onto my work and having zero balance. I love doing things outdoors and being creative. I had to find that balance again – but every Entrepreneur goes through this cycle. Work is so important to me and I got blinded by that and I forgot that my work doesn’t define me as a human being. My partner has really helped me balance myself a lot better and has shown me to not feel guilty when I wasn’t working. I could be watching TV, but still working in my head. Being like this all the time means you don’t get the time to rest your body and your mind and you go into overdrive. You need a break to come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to take on your next challenge.
I definitely don’t have everything worked out, but communicating my learnings to others might help them learn something about their journey. I love sharing and being open about my experiences, because if we didn’t share no one would get to understand other people’s adventures. I love to learn from others and I’m fascinated by how their mind works and what other people think about. I will continue to share my experiences of my journey and the struggles that I’ve experienced and how I overcame them.