By Martin Zwilling
Most entrepreneurs see their new venture as a fun adventure, until the pressures of a cash flow crisis, or a manufacturing quality problem, or a major customer satisfaction problem hits. Even with all my years of experience mentoring in business, I can’t predict how you will prepare for and react to pressure situations. I wish I could, since these often make or break your business future.
Over the years, I have found some key things that you can do to prepare yourself, how a proper mindset can mitigate the pain, and put you back in control. Here are the top approaches I recommend, and the entrepreneur mindsets that I see in survivors:
Evaluate new competitive threats as new opportunities. New competitors can steal your market, or they can open up new markets. Entrepreneurs who react with fear and anger are in major jeopardy of losing their health, since competitors are a constant in the startup world. Use them positively to tune your solution and expand your opportunities.
Use business model pressures as drivers for innovation. There is a natural human tendency to fight the need for change, and the pressure to change causes pain. True entrepreneurs love change – that’s why they are starting a new venture. They use pressures, like shrinking margins, as drivers for their next innovation in manufacturing.
Incorporate fun and humor into pressure relationships. If your team is feeling over-whelmed by the pressures of customer demands, it may be time for an off-site fun event to get them recharged and fully motivated. Fun and humor will also offset the tension in dealing with tough customer issues, resulting in higher satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals.
Take control of the situation by breaking task into chunks. When the challenge ahead looms large, it’s easy to let anxiety get the best of you, and you are afraid to start. Every big task can be broken into milestones, allowing you to enjoy small successes. That’s why I suggest a business plan before you start, with a timeline and deliverables.
Work from your strengths – don’t worry about weaknesses. Most entrepreneurs start with passion and confidence, but many succumb to their weaknesses when pressures set in. Lead with your strengths and in-depth skills, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from advisors or partners to fill in the gaps. Confidence alone will overcome many challenges.
Turn every failure into a positive learning opportunity. When pressures mount and things go wrong, don’t start looking for excuses, or someone else to blame. Make every failure a lesson learned, and project that mindset to your team. Thomas Edison counted many learning opportunities, bouncing back after 1000 failures on the light bulb alone.
Prepare for challenges rather than hope for the best. The best entrepreneurs always have a plan, with alternatives, and continually research their industry and competitors. Others strike out blindly, assume it will be an easy win, and quickly feel the stress and pressure, with minimal insight on how to respond. Be over-prepared, and enlist advisors.
Stay physically fit and balance work with play. Pressure situations will happen in every business, so stay at your best both physically and mentally to respond. Don’t let the “normal” workload wear you down – keep a balanced focus on work, and find other activities, including sleep and entertainment, to keep up your motivation and stamina.
Based on my own experience as a business executive and advising small business owners, I’m convinced that anyone can learn from these techniques to handle the pressures of a new venture or existing business, no matter what their background. It won’t happen by default, and it does take effort and initiative on your part.
You too can then thrive on the challenges and pressures of your business, rather than let these pressures destroy you. Most entrepreneurs I know can’t stand the boredom of “business as usual,” as that threatens their sense contribution and self-worth. Be one of the best, whose motto proudly is “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
The writer is a veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, professor, and investor. Published on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, Huffington Post.