What’s the difference between successful business people, and those who are less so? I’ve always wondered about this and for a while, I thought it boiled down to factors such as innovation, technical know-how and networks. I have since found that while these factors play a large role, a lot depends on your ability to self-motivate during the down times.

It is easy to be focused when things are going your way, but this is not always the case when the reverse occurs. This partly explains why a majority of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) do not get to year two of their existence. Running your own business means you are forgoing a predictable source of income for something that you have no guarantee will work. Yes, you go into it having done your homework and armed with a clear projection of your revenue. But, we know what they say about the best-laid plans. The reality is that business is tough. It is not for the faint of heart.

I have come across a lot more ‘depressed’ business people than happy fulfilled ones. Hell, I have had more down moments in the space of a year and a half than I’d ever had in my entire professional career. When you are in the services business like some of us, the going can get a lot tougher than most. So, if the harshness of the entrepreneurship path is so prevalent, how come we hear very little about it?

Human nature prohibits people from admitting that things aren’t what they thought they would be. It’s as if doing so makes you less human, better yet, less ‘entrepreneurial’. We walk around pretending the world of business is fine and all of us are making money and not spending sleepless nights wondering where payroll money will come from. You end up feeling discouraged and exhausted, sometimes even considering the attractiveness of a predictable income.

When this moment hits, it’s easy to forget all the good things that attracted you into your business industry in the first place. You forget all about the well-laid strategies that you have developed over time and the urgency to generate cash becomes a dominant factor in your mind. At this point in the journey, it’s time to dig deep into your internal resources. No, I’m not talking about spirituality. Accessing your inner resources takes a clear understanding of the following:

You are not unique

Everyone goes through dips in every area of their lives. You are not unique. Don’t worry, you won’t die from it either. Understand that even the ones you admire today went through the struggles you are going through. It passes and it comes back again, get used to the cycle.

If it comes easy, you’ll take it for granted

I have learnt that when things are handed on a silver platter the amount of care we place on them is different to when you work for it yourself. Make sure success is important to you, that way you give things you work on all you’ve got.

Dusting yourself off is a skill you learn

Mental fitness does not just happen overnight, it is a skill that gets better with exercise. The more you use this skill, the better it becomes. All it takes is knowing what you want to achieve and knowing and believing that you have all you need to realise it. In addition, remembering that obstacles are part of the game and a chance sometimes to recalibrate.

Get used to downtime

We all go through down moments in every area of our lives, it’s even worse in the world of business. There are many businesses offering similar goods and services and it is always about reinventing yourself.

Sometimes it goes your way, other times it doesn’t. Failure is also part of the journey and that is normal. How you move from the dips is what determines the level of impact you and your business will have for the next generation.

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