We were in a van. Packed in like sardines. It was the perfect setting for my favorite pastime: eavesdropping.
Paul Graham says you can judge a place by what you eavesdrop and this van was no exception. Listening intently, I heard a woman turn to the man next to her and say, “The hotel business seems really hard.”
Without missing a beat, he replied, “There’s no business that isn’t hard.”
Ain’t that the truth.
Whether you run your own business or not, it doesn’t matter. You’re CEO of your life. And there’s no business that isn’t hard.
Still, we’re obsessed with projecting ourselves (and our businesses) to the world as perfect. Perfect funnels. Perfect hiring decisions. Perfect client onboarding. Perfect copy. Perfectly functional websites. Perfect content. Perfect perfect perfect perfect.
No wonder we all feel like we’re doing it wrong. We keep telling each other how easy it is and how much we’re KILLING IT!!! (or, worse, we verbal vomit in a tell-all post that wayyyyyyy overshares and that doesn’t help things either).
The more we pretend like things aren’t hard, the more we feel like we’re failing because they are hard.
Expectations are a big part of this game. When you expect that you can do this in less than a year or you won’t hit setbacks or that you’ll be living the dream without much struggle, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
We talk a big game about understanding struggle. And hustle. And pushing through resistance and discomfort. We love quotes about it. (Oooo and sharing quotes about it.)
But when you’re knee-deep in the muck, fuck the quotes.
There’s no quote for what you’re feeling when it’s hard. There’s no book or spark of inspiration. There’s just you. And all the evidence you’ve collected for why you suck, why this situation sucks, why your clients suck, why your service offering sucks, why your body sucks, why your brain sucks, why your family sucks, why your situation sucks, and why everything sucks.
And when it’s just you.
Well, I wrote a bunch of words of wisdom but then I deleted them because they were stupid. And trite. And I’m so tired of reading trite stupid things that pretend to give you a solution to the messiness.
Life is messy. And business is hard.
Listen to the man in the van.
“There’s no business that isn’t hard.”
It’s kind of comforting to know it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard.
And not in the cute Instagram way where you’re all adorable but your hair is a mess. In the “f*ck, I might not make rent this month,” type hard.
We all need to recalibrate. And since I’m in the amazingly privileged position to be getting emails from strangers on the internet from all over the world I can tell you this much: We’re all struggling with the same things.
Finding clients. Nailing your positioning. Keeping clients. Charging what you’re worth. Paying taxes. Finding the right contractors. Figuring out if this is the right path for you. Wondering if you should be looking for a job. Judging yourself.
There’s something oddly comforting in knowing this isn’t just “par for the course,” it is the course. You’re not missing anything.
If you’re wondering whether you’re cut out for this, you’re asking the wrong question. Of course you’re not, no one is born good at this. It’s being in it and surviving that makes you the person who is cut out for this.
(remember, don’t have faith, have evidence)
It’s the fact that business is hard and somehow you’re still here, still standing, that makes you cut out for this.
Live to fight another day.