Weathering the Storm – Finding Resources to Keep You on Track

This is the first of our blog series with Business Psychologist and Coach, Charlotte Sheridan.

Starting or running a business at any time is challenging.

So you want to set up your own business? Or you’ve just started. Maybe you’re killing it already (tell us how and share the love). Whatever stage you’re at, remember one thing. When the flight is turbulent do what the crew says….  “Put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else.” 

This is the first rule of survival. If you run out of oxygen, you can’t run your business. We are in the eye of the storm and we can’t predict where it’ll take us. We can’t know what our businesses will look like in 12, 18, 24 months time.  

You can't control everything, but you can control how you behave as a business owner.

Set yourself up with the right resources. Focus on the stuff that will keep you on track. I’m suggesting you create a Virtual Board of Directors. A group of people who will help you and your business stay fit. Then you’re more likely to weather the storm.  

I ran interviews with 100 people who left or were leaving their paid jobs behind. Some had set up new businesses, many were changing career, others were re-training. They ranged from 28 to 68 years old. It’s never too late to become an entrepreneur! 

Whilst each person was unique and their circumstances differed, they did share similar strategies. See what some of my interviewees said below.  

1) Friends

Check who can talk to, who cares about you? It could be friends or even a counsellor/ therapist. Someone you’re comfortable sharing how you’re feeling. 

“I’ve got friends who I’ve had for years and when I told them that I was leaving work behind, and was going to set up my own business they were so happy for me. They said it’s about time, we’ve been waiting to hear this. So, I’ve got fantastic support out there from family, my good friends.”  

“My friends celebrated the highs and shuffled me through the lows.” 

“I had a couple of really good friends. I would have broken without them. I poured my soul out to them and they kept me going,” 

2) Wise Aunts (or Uncles)

They don’t have to be blood relatives, but they do need to support and mentor you. And they need to care about your business. They should be people you can bounce ideas off and who’ll give you objective feedback.  

 “I got myself half a dozen people [in the same area] who were there to help me when things got a bit sticky – when I was having a bad day, something had gone wrong or I was confused and needed a sounding board. A tribe as I call it. It’s been invaluable for me.” 

“I have a coach and he’s brilliant. He’s really supportive, and he’s certainly the person who I go to. Just having to cope with the knock backs and being told thanks but no thanks which happens to me quite a lot.” 

3) Fitness Coach

This doesn’t need to be an actual coach, just someone who just looks out for your health. It may even be you. They (or you) will need to help you stay fit enough to run your business. You need to be on top of your eating, sleeping and exercise.  

“I’ve taken up Jujitsu and that’s been a really amazing outlet for me. Because it’s part physical, but part mental.”  

 “I cut out sugar and processed carbs and notice a difference in my mental health and how I feel. More veg and fruit and my mind feels clear and less sluggish. “  

“I suffer from mental chatter, a lot of noise going on all of the time and the voices are not always positive. Yoga gives me a break from stressing out about everything. The physical element of being flexible and stronger and the mental element of finding peace of mind.”  

4) Professor

Where do you find your information (outside of The Rebel School of course)? If you’ve got a question, where do you go? Some people find networking groups useful. Others use digital resources (e.g. TED TALKS and blogs) or reading books.  

“I run a network of women leaders in communications which has been quite important. I’m also trying to broaden my network to people who run small businesses.” 

 “I’m reading Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed. It’s about learning from mistakes. The argument is that the more open you are to your failures, the more opportunity you have to learn and really make that kind of seismic leap into another level of performance.” 

5) Your Older Self

If you could go back in time, what wisdom would you share with your younger self? What do you wish you had known then? Remind yourself of how much you already know, how much you’ve already learned 

This is what some of my interviewees said to their younger selves: 

“Worry less about what might happen. You won’t get lost. You will find your way.” 

 “Don’t get too upset about what’s bothering you now. With time and distance most things become less important.” 

“Nothing’s black or white. Not every decision is the end of the world. Don’t be so scared of everything.” 

“Life takes unexpected turns. Sometimes it’s things that you really love and it’s surprising. But it’s okay if things don’t go according to plan.” 

So, have you got a Virtual Board of Directors in place?

 Take this questionnaire to find out how strong it is and actions you can take to improve it. Make sure you check every three months to find out whether your Virtual Board of Directors helping or hindering your business.

Charlotte Sheridan

Charlotte Sheridan is a Business Psychologist and Coach. She’s also been through the highs and lows of setting up several businesses. Click here to find out more about her project where she interviewed 100 people changing their career or becoming entrepreneurs.