I remember when I first started out in business, fellow business-owners and entrepreneurs would often say "your business is like your baby".
They were sharing with me that your business is a part of you, something you give birth to, something that needs your protection, constant support and vigilance.
But only today have I realised that they were all wrong.
My business is not my baby. My business is me. It's part of me. It's my identity. It's personal, really personal.
When I lived in The Netherlands I did a lot of networking... I mean a LOT! And I got pretty well known amongst fellow business-owners. Often I would walk into a room and someone, whom I wouldn't even know, would walk towards me with a smile and say "You're Simply Skin!" (that was the name of my previous business) And they were right, I was Simply Skin.
In fact, they probably never realised just how right they were. I, Viv, was becoming more Simply Skin and less Viv... and that's really not healthy. But I guarantee, as an entrepreneur and business-owner, I was (and am) not alone in this. You see my business was not my baby, it was my heart, my very soul. It was me.
And that meant when my business got hurt, it wasn't my business that felt the emotional pain of being hurt, it was me.
That meant that when women told me they didn't like my product, I'd make it into the belief that they didn't like me.
That meant when women loved my products but then never bought from me again, I'd beat myself up thinking I'd done something to put them off.
That meant when women followed me but never bought my products, I'd translate it into me not being good enough.
When I worked in corporate, if someone had said to me "I don't like the company you work for. I don't like their products", I would have shrugged it off. It wasn't my concern whether they liked the company or not - that was no reflection on me. You see, when you're an employee there's a clear separation between you and the company you work for.
That clear separation does not exist when you're an entrepreneur or business-owner.
And that makes every day of being an entrepreneur or business-owner an emotional and mental challenge. Because everything is personal.
I recently watched a presentation by Will Joseph of Good Startups on this and that's when the lightbulb lit up. The presentation shone the spotlight on the existence of a business and its founder as being one and the same. It highlighted that this same-existence can lead to a ton of issues such as low self-confidence, a tendency to be hard on yourself and beat yourself up, a feeling of unworthiness, and loneliness... all experiences that happen behind the scenes that no-one wants to (or feels they can or should) talk about.
Well, I'm here and I'm raising my hand because I have and continue to experience them all. I know I'm not alone and that's why I'm writing this.
I'm writing this for my fellow-entrepreneurs who, too, feel they and their business are one, who have allowed their business to define who they are, and who take everything really personally. I'm writing this in the hope that your lightbulbs will shine brightly with recognition of this and you can begin the task of separation... for the health of your business and for the health of you. Because your business is bigger than you - you are simply a vessel to be of service. And you are bigger than your business - the definition of you, who you are, is much more intricate and complicated .
And I'm also writing this for customers, followers, supporters, cheerleaders, ambassadors, friends and family of entrepreneurs because, unless you step into our shoes, you can never (be expected to) know how difficult it is every day feeling you and your business are one and the same. I'm writing this to encourage you to reach out every once in a while and simply say "I appreciate you".