Hang On, and Learn from Tough Times

Tomorrow, I’m speaking with a group of rising entrepreneurs about my experience founding CCAW. They’re all very early-stage, don’t have established customer bases, and may not have a product–market fit yet. I’ve been pondering what will be most helpful considering the allotted time (it’s hard to condense more than ten years of insights into twenty minutes) and the reality of the pandemic. I decided to prepare by mapping my CCAW journey in a lifeline (a diagram of the major highs and lows of something, such as a life or a career).

Doing this exercise recalled to my mind lots of great (and not so great) times. I decided to focus on sharing the lows of my journey. My goal isn’t to be negative or pessimistic—quite the opposite. I’m assuming things have gotten very difficult, very fast for this group. By sharing my low points, I hope to communicate these points:

  • Take advantage – Negative experiences mark us the most, and they shape entrepreneurs. Appreciate this time as a learning opportunity.
  • Change – People are forced to embrace change when times are tough. Make wise changes.
  • Cycles – They’re inevitable. Those who survive downturns ride the wave up and do well. Focus on keeping your business alive.
  • You’re not alone – Every entrepreneur (and every business, for that matter) is dealing with the same pandemic. Find a peer group. Their experiences—if you pay attention to them and apply them—will help you navigate this difficult time.
  • No comfort zone – When you’re uncomfortable, you’re usually growing. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.