Congratulations, you followed your passion and launched a business! You’ve officially joined the ranks of the dreamers, the innovators, the creators, the entrepreneurs… those with the can’t-ignore-it calling that can feel like both a blessing and a curse.
When you’re driven to create, how can you make sure you don’t drive your business – or yourself – into the ground before it has a chance to flourish?
After years of working with entrepreneurs and executives to build a strategic Game Plan to launch, grow, or expand their businesses, I’ve seen patterns of success and failure that transcend industry. It’s my mission to tell you what those patterns are so you have the best possible shot at success.
At Pregame, the new Game Plan HQ I started this year, we’re committed to telling the truth about entrepreneurship: not just the triumphs, but also the real struggles and how we overcome those challenges.
Most startup mythology only tells the first part of the story. Pregame people know that turning your passion into a business is just the beginning of the journey – and why it’s crucial to avoid sabotaging the journey before it gets momentum.
To keep your startup safe, check your business approach for this type of magical thinking:
1. Believe That If You Build It, They Will Come.
Unless you’re opening a strip club, this is not a strong strategy. Location is important, but proactively marketing and promoting your business, then building effective sales channels, are the way to prioritize your bottom line.
How much will it take to start up your business and run it for six months with no income? Start there to estimate your startup costs.
Nearly every founder I have worked with overestimated their first-year income projections. Give yourself space to generate revenue and especially to discover the core product that will resonate with your audience.
3. Work from Home.
I give serious side-eye to anyone who thinks they’ve won when they get to work from home. It’s one thing to power up the laptop while waiting for the cable technician; it’s quite another to roll out of bed and straight to your sofa for an all-day pajama jam brought to you by The Price is Right.
Isolation is a dream killer. Entrepreneurs are high performers by nature, and our brains move so fast that left to our own devices, we can get so caught up in our ideas – or worse, our problems – that we stop moving forward and get caught in a consciousness cul-de-sac.
There’s nothing wrong with having a home office. But you absolutely must build opportunities to connect authentically into your weekly schedule. This goes beyond a networking group; you must find a supportive environment where you’re able to talk about what’s really going on.
At the Pregame Clubhouse, we make sure our members are plugged into our programming on a regular basis. This ensures that they have a dedicated space with like-minded people where they can work out their ideas, get new solutions to immediate challenges, and refocus on their priorities through expert perspective.
4. Throw Money at Problems / Be Too Frugal About Fixing Your Problems
Are you neglecting doing the work you need to do in favor of outsourcing everything? A great way to blow through your funding fast is to spend cash on things you don’t really need, like a flashy PR campaign or overly robust software development.
While I’m a huge advocate of hiring help when you need outside perspective or expertise, doing so in emergency mode is rarely a well-considered move.
On the flipside, the DIY-prone CEO can be too slow to get the help they need to grow, or cut corners to find solutions. While I believe that having a shortage of resources can actually be more beneficial to business success than having money to burn, it’s important to be realistic about your personal resources: time and energy. Are you really going to spend 12 hours reading that sales book or taking that online course, or do you need a quicker fix? Your money is valuable, but so is your time and your energy. Don’t burn out by taking on too much.
5. Neglect Your Emotional and Spiritual Development.
Here’s one no one talks about: when the unexpected occurs, as it inevitably does, will you have the tools to manage your internal reaction?
Being your own boss, let alone someone else’s, requires perspective, patience, and compassion. For most of us, these are qualities that we need to consciously cultivate. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to have the inner tools to avoid falling apart if that deal falls through, sales take a dip, your best employee bounces, or the business climate shifts.
Which leads me to the sixth crucial consideration…
6. Avoid Engaging Others for Support.
Entrepreneurs are a particular personality type. Whether it’s nature or nurture is a topic for a future post, but for now, let’s agree that most people don’t understand the risk of starting a business or the deep need we have as entrepreneurs to take that risk despite the odds.
Giving birth to a new idea can be just as demanding as parenting an infant. Suddenly your schedule is consumed by bringing up baby business, sacrificing everything from sleep to schedule to friendships.
Nothing turns out quite like you expect. You’ll need extra understanding from your personal circle, but it’s on you to articulate how they can best support you.
How can you be both optimistic and realistic in your entrepreneurial journey? Follow me for more pro tips, and stop by Pregame for more startup realness.
This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.