How To Stay Sane As You Take The Entrepreneurial Plunge
(Keep reading to find the tips mid-article!)
6:45 am: My phone alarm goes off for the third time. Ugh… I have to be at work in 30 minutes or find a good excuse to miss it. I attempt to drag myself out of bed and get dressed but it feels like gravity is working against me. I sigh and slump back into bed. Defeated, I call in sick for the third day in a row.
Does this morning sound familiar to you?
On the days I actually did make it into the office at my old job, I would leave in a bad mood, knowing that I wasn’t helping anyone and that my career didn’t align with my values to make the world a better place. I felt trapped and depressed when I thought about doing this for years to come.
After my sick days ran out for the year in February, I made the impulsive decision to quit my real estate job and get as far away as possible. Lucky for me, I found myself in a rural village in Thailand.
Little did I know that the time I spent in that village would change my life forever…
I can still remember the day when I had my “a-ha” moment. I was working at a local school and I found myself searching high and low for soap. Finally I asked the students where the soap was and I was met with silence and saw nothing but blank stares.
The next day I brought them soap from a neighboring village and handed it to them. They unwrapped the bars with surprised faces, smacking it against their foreheads. They actually had no clue what it was. It crushed me to think there were 13 year old children in this world who had lived their whole lives without something I had taken for granted every single day.
I had never given any serious thought to soap until that day, but I should have, because soap is the single most effective way to prevent hygiene related childhood death. It’s a low cost, low technology solution that saves more lives than clean water initiatives or vaccines alone. And yet no one talks about the wonderful powers of soap.
Proceeds from this soap fund sustainable hygiene education and infrastructure projects for children in underserved communities around the world, from mountain towns in Haiti to villages in Ghana to the dense slums of India.
Since launching my company last year, I’ve been presented with more challenges than I could dream of. I’ve failed often, but I’ve kept going.
At the time, I wish I had known someone who was also on an entrepreneurial path to share my struggles and successes with along the way. Perhaps many of you feel the same, so I’d like to share some tips staying sane while taking the entrepreneurial plunge.
3 Juicy Tips For Leaping From Office Life To Entrepreneurship
1) GET TALKING!
The more people you share your vision with, the more people will know what you’re doing, and the easier it will be for you to connect to those who share your ideas and believe in you.
Another benefit of talking about your plans…getting feedback and helping you refine your ideas and business plan to make them even better.
I’m definitely an “idea person”, always daydreaming about this new invention or that new website I’d like to create. But at 23, I had all these ideas in my head and nothing to show for it. The one difference with Sundara is that I told people I was going to make this company – I told friends, I told waiters, I told my doorman, I told as many people as I could. Therefore, I felt like I had to do it – even on days when I didn’t want to put in the work – because I would feel like I would have nothing to show the next time I ran into them. Looking back now, I doubt that most of them cared – or even remembered – but it helped me feel accountable to myself. Try it and see if it works for you.
2) ASK FOR FAVORS
I’m a naturally shy and reserved person (especially in front of audiences). I despise asking for favors and shy away from talking about myself or my job at social gatherings. However, I’ve realized that you won’t get anything unless you ask for it. What’s the worst that can happen, someone says no? Ok, so they say no…Trust me, you’ll live.
I’m starting a soap recycling program in India this fall – which has been challenging for many reasons. I went at the task full force and asked everyone I knew to connect me to people in the hospitality industry. If you ask the right way, most people will be thrilled to help out and honored that you would think to ask them.
Sometimes the best connections are forged in the strangest ways – don’t miss your chance to get yours!
3) KEEP GOING WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH
I know this sounds cliche, but if you have an idea and really believe in it with your heart, go with it and don’t stop. There will always be those that doubt you, the pressures of society and your parents’ expectations – but let it go for now.
Accept the fact that you will have bad moments. I’m talking days with no sales, weeks when everything goes wrong, website crashes and people who just slam the door in your face. These mistakes won’t kill you, in fact, they build character and one day (in the not so distant future) you’ll be laughing about it.
The beginning is always the hardest and sometimes the only thing really stopping you is yourself. However, I believe that if you go after your dreams full force, you will be blessed with something extraordinary along the way.
I still have many days when I doubt myself – but during these times I remind myself of my accomplishments thus far. I have learned so much more in a few months of running a business than I would during years at an established company – plus I’ve contributed to worthwhile causes in the process.
Without great risk, there would be no great reward. I hope my story inspires others to follow their passions and create that career they’ve always felt was right for them. Your dreams can become reality.
Take the leap – I promise, the fall isn’t as far or as scary as you think!