I like to read a lot about entrepreneurship, WordPress, and all things related. Blog posts, interviews, reports, whatever I can get my hands on.
However, it’s quite common for people to rather share lots of general thoughts instead of the real struggles that keep them awake at night. I see many of my entrepreneur friends dealing with those.
What am I talking about? These 5:
1. The sole desire to struggle
When ThemeIsle started to grow, and we reached a certain revenue goal, I had a few weeks period when I felt quite empty.
“I’ve reached my goals,” so I thought, and I didn’t really know what to do next, or why.
I realized that I don’t want things to be easy, I like challenges, I like hustle, I like the “game.” Partly, this is why I enjoyed the SEO space so much. I knew that things can change overnight, and you can wake up to a whole different reality every day. The WordPress theme market? It’s a bit like that too.
In a way, challenges and overcoming them is what keeps most of the entrepreneurs I know awake at night.
And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I’ve realized that sometimes this mindset affects the people around me. I am trying to keep myself in check and remember that there are times when you don’t really need to struggle … you just need to enjoy the situation at hand and be happy, be present for the people around you.
The thing that has helped me the most with that is taking a 3-month break last year. The trip took a lot of effort for both me and my girlfriend. When you get too used to your daily life, making a radical change isn’t easy.
However after years of struggling, it might just be exactly what you need. Simple solutions are very often the best…
2. Thinking too much in terms of revenue vs. values
A part of your job as the CEO is to make sure that the company is profitable. So you tend to end up thinking too much about money, or is that only me?
Sometimes I struggle to do the things that I love, or the things that I consider important vs. doing the things that will bring more revenue.
Focusing too much on the latter makes you kind of lose your “startup advantage” over the big competitors. Those big companies have shareholders to please, and they are required to think in terms of profits only … this is how they are built.
Struggling to find the right balance here is what I and many other entrepreneurs deal with on a daily basis.
Finding a balance between optimizing your business and caring for people is crucially important. Is working more and spending less time with your family or friends likely a good approach over the long term?
Also, I know that sometimes working with one partner vs. another can make you more money, but does that justify it and makes it the right thing to do?
Back in the days when we did client work, I knew that some clients weren’t the right fit. However, I still thought, business-wise, that keeping them would be a good decision. But it wasn’t. Over time, I’ve realized that I need to do what feels right, and not necessarily what a “good businessman” would do.
To put this mindset into practice, I started working with the team more, and set a common set of values that always need to come first. This wasn’t only about creating a nice board titled, “Our Values,” but about respecting those values.
I felt that I needed a way as a founder to give our employees the power to stop me from doing something if it wasn’t the right thing to do according to our common values.
In all honesty, this is still a work-in-progress, and I can’t say that it’s completely worked out already.
3. Focus on the right thing
I am a creative person, and like most of us, I see a lot of opportunities around me, I have lots of ideas and I like to get involved in everything we do.
However, very often, I find myself in the position where I am too much into the daily things and end up with no ideas for the future.
While I enjoy working like this, having no long-term vision is bad, to say the least.
My solution is to take long breaks from time to time, so that when I am back, it’s much easier to start thinking from scratch. I can put things into perspective and focus on the most important aspects of running a business.
For instance, when I came back from the trip I mentioned above, I identified a number of crucial things that we should do at ThemeIsle:
- Find a great designer. Design better themes and focus more on the details.
- Improve our demos to increase conversions.
- Improve our landing pages.
- Optimize our checkout process.
- Focus more on content marketing.
4. Invest in your company, but for how long?!
For 3 years after I started the company, my salary was still $0. We had employees, by the way. They were getting normal salaries, but the company wasn’t profitable.
I bet I wasn’t the only one who went through a situation like that. “How much longer can this take?!” – I kept asking myself.
In a sense, I was lucky, I started the company when I was young, and almost nobody relied on me being able to provide. I had a supportive girlfriend, and I lived in a country with low costs of living. That was part of what kept me going, along with a strong feeling that I didn’t want to quit … that I didn’t want to be a failure.
I am sure that, unfortunately, there are some of you out there going through the exact same thing. Probably the best thing to do is to find someone with more experience, someone you can trust, respect, and someone who is willing to listen.
In those moments of doubt, don’t hesitate to reach-out to people. As Cory Miller said at PressNomics, you are not alone.
Tell them your story and ask their opinion. See what they think. Are you really doing that badly? Or maybe that’s just your inner daemons trying to sway you?
(I’m not sure if I can be of much help, but if you want to connect with me in particular, I’m all ears.)
5. Lifestyle business or growth?
I have this continuous duality in me…
Sometimes, I am very happy with how things are going with the company, and I feel that we should maybe focus on improving our lives more, rather than struggling to grow at all costs.
But other times I can be very competitive, and I feel frustrated that we aren’t doing enough and that we need to have a bigger impact on the world around us.
Solution? I don’t have it yet. That balance is still tough for me.
But what do you think? How do you find your balance? As always, all comments are appreciated.