If I Could Turn Back Time

Not sure if it is the season, thinking about this blog or just having an extra hour in my day resulting from the end of Daylight Savings Time, but I spent some time reflecting on my entrepreneurial journey.

I love being an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurship is the greatest roller coaster ride. There are highs, lows, crazy corners and nose dives. It can be a great adrenaline rush. All is grand when customers are continually visiting your location, purchasing your product/service and choosing you over the competition. You are energized.

Then the environment changes and sales have altered for “no apparent reason”. Things start spiralling in the wrong direction. The adrenaline only lasts so long and eventually panic/fear sets in. Time to shift gears and buckle down. It could get rough…

From my experience, this is the time to step back and look at the roller coaster – all the elements of the roller coaster. First thing you may note is that most roller coasters have several cars and many seats. It doesn’t have to be ridden alone.

For the first few years of my business, I missed that point. As a small business owner, I often felt like a solo crusader taking on all the responsibility, troubleshooting problems and sacrificing whatever was necessary to forge ahead. If I didn’t know the answer, I would figure it out on my own. I needed to “look” like I knew what I was doing. Never let them see you sweat. I had a business degree; how hard could this be?  I quickly learned that entrepreneurship does not come with a handbook. Every day is different so pride, ego and ignorance must be checked at the door.

My business was doing well but there were some parts that had me baffled. My roller coaster left me a bit bumped and bruised as I tried to resolve problems on my own. It was also costing me time, energy and money. It was then that I realized I needed to fill some of the empty seats on my ride. The first spot went to my trusted business advisor and personal coach. This mentorship was a collaborative experience that lasted for several years. It was the best business investment I made.

This lesson is captured in a brilliant quote from Wayne Dyer: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”

If things were going to change, I needed to change. I needed better thinking. I needed to shift and get unstuck. Which leads to the words of Albert Einstein, “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”

So how do you go about making change? For me, it was:

  • Admitting that I didn’t know what I didn’t know and it is okay to not have all the answers.
  • Allowing myself to be vulnerable and work past the fear. It can be risky to share your own reality and ask for help.
  • Taking off the cape and admitting that I had a weakness or lacked knowledge so I needed assistance.

I am a champion for continual learning, mentorship and picking another’s brain. Finding the right supports opened up a whole new world for me. The key was to be open, listen and be a bit vulnerable. Sometimes what I learned went against everything I believed so it was hard to hear. Interestingly, the new perspective usually had merit.

While feedback can be painful and challenging, the upside of mentorship far outweighs the downside. I learned that:

  • Constructive guidance is a great way to move an idea forward;
  • Fresh perspectives can shine a light on a challenge and help to find a meaningful solution;
  • New ways of thinking generate new ideas which could be the golden nugget that will take you places you didn’t know existed;
  • Mentorship opens your eyes to the options, especially when you didn’t think there were any;
  • You can accelerate your own efforts by learning from the challenges experienced by others;
  • There are always lessons to be learned;
  • It is important to surround yourself with new ideas and new possibilities;
  • The more you learn, the more you will be inspired;
  • Asking for help along the way is normal and should be expected.

If I could turn back time, there are four things I would do for sure: seek out an advisor sooner; make time for networking with forward thinking innovators/leaders; ask for guidance in all aspects of my business; and perhaps most importantly, stop forcing and start allowing.

– Colleen Krebs-Walmsley