You Are Not Alone
By all accounts, John appeared to be a successful business owner. The type of person that aspiring entrepreneurs look up to. He owned his own automotive service shop; a business he started himself, based around a passion and love for fixing cars. The business had grown. More and more people wanted John to service their cars. He now had several employees, overhead lifts, a sign, a website, and some high-tech diagnostic equipment. What a dream come true for a person who started as a technician working for someone else. Now John was that someone else.
Every entrepreneur will discover on their journey some of the challenges and struggles that come along with the position. Stress—lots of it. A lack of time. Working long hours and less time spent with family. The anxiety that comes along with debt and the extra “0” or two you get used to seeing on statements with your name on them. And of course every business owner’s favorite: managing people. The struggle is real!
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past decade, you will no doubt have noticed a tendency in our culture to compare ourselves to others. I hate that I do it, but I can’t help it. Often, it’s done in a way where we see someone who has achieved the next level we are striving for and we think, “Why am I not there?” or, “Why is it so easy for them?” Well, I want to let you in on a little secret: Everyone out there—the small shops, the middle sized ones, and the ones that people across the country know and respect—they’ve all struggled. And most of them still deal with the struggles of business ownership.
What is the difference between struggles of a small- and large-sized business, you ask? One of the key factors is the ability of the person in charge to deal with those challenges and struggles. The struggle is real and it’s everywhere. I want to assure you that you are, in fact, not alone. You have a network all around you, all across the country, and all across the world, of people just like yourself trying to figure it out.
Even outside our industry, on much larger scales. Heroes such as Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg struggled, too, and continue to do so. It’s important to remember that. In a society that tends to compare ourselves to others, it’s all too easy to look at more successful people and imagine them going home at the end of their day completely blissful. Not likely!
Now, that’s not to paint a dark picture of success. The problems and struggles may never go away but your ability to deal with them will grow and improve. Experience is a great teacher. Learning who to hire, how to manage them, and when to cut ties. How to inspire people. How to manage finances or maybe how to delegate and farm out tasks that aren’t your strengths. Your growing abilities, providing one of the world’s most necessary services to more people, and creating jobs at the same time, is an extremely rewarding feeling. Don’t forget that! And when anxiety or stress come knocking at your door, take the responsible path and deal with it. All too often, I see the ego in our industry give in to the taboo of asking for help or even talking about the stress of our jobs.
Recently, I wrote about shop owner health and remembering to take care of yourself personally. Just like you have calluses on your hands from busted knuckles, your mind will also bear the scars from stress. Long-term stress can do strange things. Ever had your confidence shaken, thinking every time you build up a little security that you’re always just one step from having it taken away? But you learn that one failure does not equal a pattern. You learn that this business is going to have its ups and downs. You are going to lose a great employee. You will have a few awful terrible customers. You will come up short on money and have to borrow. If we’re resilient, we learn to reframe our failure as a learning experience and don’t make the same mistake twice. And if we’re really trying to stay on top of our health, we remember to be grateful for all that we have. No matter what your beliefs are, a gratitude list is a powerful thing when used regularly. Today, I’m thankful for some amazing co-workers and a growing industry. Cars are going to be around quite a bit longer. Even if they drive themselves, I’m confident that my mortgage is getting paid off!
About that future. We live in an unprecedented time. The information that we have access to would blow the mind of someone just 10–20 years ago. I chuckle when I hear people say, “Knowledge is power.” Nowadays, knowledge is attainable practically everywhere. “Implementation is power” is the new adage for me. Implementation comes from motivation. And motivation comes from our internal thoughts and beliefs. I want you to believe and know that you are not alone in this journey. Others shop owners out there, and even our heroes, are all going through it, too.
I see too many people get down on themselves. It’s hard at times and a little resilience can go a long way. Every entrepreneur has gone, is going, and will go through it at times. Be honest with yourself and the people around you, they will likely be the ones to help carry you through the valleys of shop ownership.
And finally, don’t be a victim of ego. Ask for help. No one who has risen to any level of greatness has figured it all out on their own. They all got help. I got help. If you feel like your business is running you, just remember help is out there and others are on the same path as you, figuring it out every day.