by Regina L. Henry, The Labyrinth Consulting Group
This conversation is for you if you nod “yes” to any of the following…
- You have an amazing idea for (or already have) a great food business but feel overwhelmed by the “to do” list to develop it.
- You have creative instincts that flow easily in other areas of your life yet in your food business you experience some ebbs that you’re not accustomed to having.
- Sometimes (and maybe more frequently than sometimes) you experience doubt and confusion when you think about your business growth.
The reality is that designing and building a business is hard work. You can have the best ideas and ample resources but they must be coupled with the proper mindset to move your business through the stages of growth to maturity. I would venture to say that your mindset, the mindset of your team and how you care for it is your most valuable commodity as a food entrepreneur.
When you’re beginning your journey, let’s face it, you are probably struggling to run the business side of your food venture. The food part, you have under control and are knocking it out of the park. It’s your grandmother’s pistachio pound cake recipe. You can bake that in your sleep. But the presentation or the marketing is not as polished as you would like. Or your promotional ideas don’t match your market. For a creative person, this can be very discouraging.
You become tempted to give up. The mental stamina to manage both the product creation (and expansion) together with the other tentacles of the business can wear you down.
Here are three steps to cultivate the mindset necessary to weather the stormy parts of your entrepreneurial journey.
1. Assess & Acknowledge
Take the time to locate where you are in the process. Ask yourself: What do I need to know that I don’t know? Sometimes, as entrepreneurs, you don’t always know what you don’t know but you do recognize the gap between where you are and where you want to be. That gap raises even more questions, which inevitably leads to doubt, anxiety, and fear-based decision making.
Acknowledge your feelings. Literally, say them or write them out. Shedding light on negative emotions diffuses their power. When you try to compartmentalize or avoid them, they fester and seep into both your personal and business lives.
2. See & Speak
Next, give yourself a pep talk. Not a cliché laden monologue. Instead, dig deep. Review the vision that you had for your business. Your “why” for starting it in the first place. Think about what you are trying to build… a food business that expresses your creativity, meets a need in the marketplace, and creates financial freedom for you and your family. That has GOT to mean something to you! From that place of meaning, speak life giving words to yourself. Be intentional.
It could sound a little like this: “Look, I know this is hard. I have been working at this for almost two years, and I am just finding my stride yet there is so much that I still do not know. I feel the pressure to succeed this year… my family and friends are supportive but are running out of patience with my slow progress. I feel embarrassed and question my competency sometimes. Nevertheless, I believe in my dream. I see it clearly. My reasons for doing this fuel me. Yes, I have much to learn but I can do this.”
3. Cultivate Connections
Finally, find a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. They may be other food business owners but they don’t have to be. Much of the journey of an entrepreneur is similar regardless of industry. The key is to find a place to be vulnerable. From others, you can receive support, encouragement, information. Your ability to grow increases exponentially when you engage with an understanding group. Look for Facebook or mastermind communities with similar business or even personal interests. One secret to business success is to invest in your personal growth.
You are well able to establish the food business that you envision. Just know that the negative parts of business ownership are part of the landscape. They do not capture the full image of what you can and will create. When they arise, assess your thoughts and feelings and acknowledge them; look again at your vision and your “why” and give yourself the gift of positive self-talk; and connect with other business owners.
Regina L. Henry, MA, EdM, founder and CEO of The Labyrinth Consulting Group, is a leadership coach with a commitment to inspiring and equipping every person she connects with to "unearth their unique genius." She specializes in creating individualized strategies for entrepreneurs to help empower them to discover and express their genius within the marketplace.