How to: Create support for yourself while starting a business.


Doing anything daring will most likely deplete you emotionally (sometimes physically). Business-building in and of itself (drawing up business plans, creating written content, starting spreadsheets, defining products/services, understanding dream clients, etc) is not HARD.

That’s right. I said Business. Is. Not. Hard.

However, business is complex. What is hard and what depletes us is all the emotional work we must go through in the building of our businesses. It’s like going to 4 years of college in 1 year. The pace can be rapid. Again, it depends on how long you want it to take.

What do you need to learn to be successful in business?

  • Who you want to be

  • Who you want to sell things to

  • How you want to sell them

  • Why someone wants to buy them

  • Tracking methods for money and time

  • Regulations (how to do things legally)

  • Social media

  • Content creation

  • Marketing

What do you need to have to be a successful business owner?

  • Resilience

  • Determination

  • Drive

  • A compelling reason

  • Ways to support your emotional health

I used to define support as:

  • Someone who could help me shoulder the emotional exhaustion of being new at everything.

  • Someone who would know exactly the emotional turmoil I was going through. That’s why traditional support groups bring people together who are going through something similar. You often don’t believe anyone gets you, and that can cause you further emotional stress.

  • Someone who would help take away the stuff that caused me the most emotional exhaustion. Couldn’t someone just give me the money I needed so that it didn’t need to be something I had to work on? It would be so much easier if I had all the money I needed to do the thing I wanted to do.

But this is the thing. No one can take our emotional away from us. They belong to us. No one will know exactly what we’re going through because we all react differently to life’s circumstances. This is also why I believe it’s been traditionally hard to ‘find’ support within the startup community. Because I do think that no one wants to be the person you cry to consistently about how hard things are.

Building a business (depending it’s own complexity) might put you into some level of emotional stress. It all depends on so many factors. How you approach learning. How you approach failure. How determined you are. If you’ve defined an effective compelling reason.

You will have to learn to be good at a bunch of stuff. And the thing is, people will hold you accountable to a level that is unattainable. Will you have emotional resilience to be able to hear that feedback and have enough love for yourself that their comments do not cause you pain?

When I was building my business 6 years ago, I was not prepared emotionally. Or physically. In addition to building an emotionally-taxing business, I was also building a physically-exhausting business. I had to set up, clean, maintain, keep safe, and break down a giant parking lot of thousands of people once a month. My physical life as a disaster. I was physically exhausted by my business. And I was mentally exhausted by the demands of the thousands of people who believed it was my job to achieve perfection for them.

I bought into their stories.

I felt shame and embarrassment daily.

I agreed with their assertions that I should be perfect, or at least better than I was.

My business nearly killed me.

It changed an entire city, but it nearly killed me.

What did I (personally) need that I hadn’t armed myself with?

  • Unconditional love. I agreed with people who told me I wasn’t good enough.

  • A schedule that allowed down time. I needed rest from the physical and mental exhaustion of running such a large-scale, highly-physical business.

  • Connection with others (via books, podcasts or actual contact) who were also building (or had already built) high-risk, high-effort, high-impact businesses within a very rigid structure. Essentially, I didn’t know how brave I was. I didn’t quite get that what I was doing was creating a revolution. So, without and insider telling me this, I didn’t know just how brave and fierce I really was.

  • The level of difficulty I had signed up for. I think if I knew that I had chosen a Mount Everest style business versus a hilly landscape, I would have prepared myself better. At least I would have brought more supplies! Since then, I’ve developed a tool to determine your own Complexity of Business so that you can know a bit more of what you’re getting into before you start. Here’s how I figure it out below.

    • Emotional Resilience

    • Business Complexity

    • Compelling Reason

    • Personal success factor

    • Energy level

    • Learning style

    • Support Style

If I had known all this, I would have come to one of two conclusions:

  • This is too hard and I’m not doing it.

  • I need to arm myself with support.

Maybe this is precisely why we don’t know everything up front before we start. Because it will be scary. It will be hard. And that scares a lot of people off. Truly, if I knew it was going to as hard as it has been I’m still sure I would have gone for it. Because my heart is so strong. It is good at getting its way. And where it wanted to go was toward Cleveland Flea whether I was prepared or not. And the fact that I’ve come out crazy successful (professionally) but a little beat up (personally) is part of the game. But there’s no reason to exist in a state of emotional distress. It’s crucial you find some way to let yourself feel better. To take a break. To balance out all the emotional resilience with some emotional R & R. Do things that make you happy. Cry when you need to. Let yourself be imperfect. Love yourself regardless. Even if you never get done with your to-do list.

Don’t forget. I’m here to help people start. Living their dream life. Building their dream biz.

And loving themselves in the process.