8 Things To Remember When The Going Gets Tough: A Guide To Surviving The Early Years of Business

Updated: Apr 7

Starting a small business can be hard. Really hard. Mentally, emotionally, and physically.


We are constantly bombarded with messages that if we fail, it is because we are lazy or undisciplined. Or, it is because we did not read the right book or listen to the right podcast or buy the right “sales” course or hire the right digital marketer...


Dear friends, this is craziness. But, how do we keep our head in the game when it seems like everyone else is growing their business and we are not confident in the next step?


Before we start, I want to acknowledge that this list specifically addresses ways of interacting with your business. It does not address the most important interaction between you and yourself. I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise, sleep, and eating well while you are starting your business. Your personal health and well-being will have a direct impact on the success of your business!


So, with that said, let's look at some things to remember in relation to your business, as you start this grand adventure.


1. Remember: It will take time.


For most businesses (unless you go into real estate with a large network during one of the greatest housing markets in history) things will take time. Often three to five years of working full time. Why? It takes time to build awareness and interest in your product or service. It takes time to learn what the marketplace wants and needs from you. It takes time to learn how to communicate with your audience.


This does NOT mean you are failing. It means you are building your business. Take time to celebrate the successes you do have and give yourself grace for the successes that are not yet a reality.

2. Remember: Your business does not need to look like someone else’s.


Think about what YOU want your business to be. Where do you want it to go? Who do you want as a customer? How is your business adding unique value? Then listen to what the marketplace is telling you about what they want and need.

As you learn the answers to these questions, you become the expert on your business. This does not mean you need to know everything about business, but it does mean you know everything about YOUR business.


Knowing your business and your ideal customer will help you evaluate (and be confident in!) any changes you need to make. If you know where you want your business to go, and what the marketplace wants from you, you can better evaluate if some new “easy” idea is right for your business.


There are extraordinarily successful businesses that do not have Instagram. Other businesses survive only from Instagram. So, become an expert on what is best for YOU and YOUR BUSINESS.

3. Remember: Acknowledge and celebrate milestones.


As you start your business, there are many things to do. Make sure you are taking the time to look back and celebrate your progress. Do you have a website? Great! Do you have your revenue model sketched out? Great! Have you written some blogs or created some other social media content? Great! Did you go to a networking meeting and make a couple of new contacts? Great! Do you have any customers? Extra great!


Celebrate the small steps and milestones that will, over time, build the foundation for your business. This foundation is hard to see in the moment, but there is no “fast forward” button for this process. Take time to work on the foundation of your business and your business will be stronger because of it.

4. Remember: The thoughts you think are not always true.


We think many things that are not true. We make assumptions, we read into things and we can often be our own harshest critic.


When you are feeling down, start to take notice of your thoughts. Write down some of the things that are going through your head and look at them as if you are an outsider. What is true about this thought? How do you know? What is untrue? How do you know? What led to this thought?


Our feelings always follow our thoughts. Learn to challenge your thinking and take a step back. What you feed your mind will make you or break you. So, keep your thoughts in check.

5. Remember: Limit your intake of social media.


Be selective with social media. I cannot stress this enough. Who do you follow? How do you feel after scrolling for 10 minutes? 30 minutes? Social media can often put undue pressure and expectations into our heads of what we “should be”.


I remember not long ago reading a post from a business owner saying how excited they were about the coming months and working with their new clients. I was encouraged because a couple of months prior, this business owner and I had coffee and I knew things were slow. So, after seeing this post, I wrote a private message saying congrats. The response back was essential, “I am still at the same number of clients, but I am working on it”.


From the outside, things looked good. But they were in the same place. Does this mean everything is "fake"? No. Not at all. Just keep in mind that social media is often an extra carefully curated slice of reality.


6. Remember: Focus your energy on what will Move Your Business Forward.


There are a thousand ways to spend your day. Focus on the shortest route to customers.


For me, it was face to face interactions. I created a simple website and did not allow myself to touch it for a year. I was told by many people that I should create an online course, write an e-book, start blogging, be active on Instagram. etc. The problem with this advice is that it did not match the amount of time I had and the business I wanted to build. I wanted my coaching to be very personal. I wanted to reach the business owners who were not specifically searching for a coach but were searching for help. So, with my simple website complete, I started meeting with people every day. In 5 months, I replaced my income. No one found me on my website, in fact, hardly anyone visited my website! I built my business face to face, person by person. Was this the “right” way? Maybe. Maybe not. The key is that it fit what I wanted my business to be and it moved me forward.


As you learn what moves your business forward, evaluate the decisions you are making. What is working and what is not? Track your progress, make notes, test theories, and keep going. Do not hold too tightly to one idea of what your business should be at the start. Find what works and replicate it. Toss out everything else.

7. Remember: Find a group of people who can truly encourage you.


Surround yourself with a few key people who genuinely want you to succeed. Ask for help when needed but know that no one will care about your business the way you do. This does not mean they do not care! It just means they have other things they care about as much as you care about your business.


This group could be others in your industry, a networking group, a mentor, coach, or your faith community. This group may also change over time. Whatever it looks like, find something that works for you.

8. Remember: YOU define success.


It is critical that YOU define success for you and your business. While this definition can change over time, it is important to keep this definition in front of you. What does success look like to you? Freedom? A specific amount of money? Time with family? Etc.


Defining success will help you stay focused as well as help you track progress. It will also help you not compare your business with others (as easily). They are chasing their idea of success. Chase YOURS.


In my second year in business, I worked fewer hours per week and made more money. That was success. I did not reach my "ideal" financial number, but could see progress towards that goal!



My hope is that this article gave you some practical steps to stay motivated while starting your business. If you are not sure where to start, answer these questions:


1) What are the milestones I can celebrate in my business?

2) What are some negative thoughts I need to evaluate and re-frame?

3) Where do I want my business to be in 6 months and who can support me in getting there?



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Amy Lynne Coaching is located in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN and works with solopreneurs and small business owners to help them reach their goals.


If you are interested in learning more about coaching with Amy Lynne Coaching, you can schedule a phone call here!



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