The Daily Struggle of Being an Entrepreneur

by Gabe Arnold

You’ve been sitting and staring at your screen for an hour now.

Maybe not just staring blankly, maybe you’ve been distracting yourself.

Everyday it’s so easy to get distracted by Facebook, email, and mindless bullshit that we allow to creep in and steal our time.

You’re completely normal, just like me. It doesn’t matter if you’re a full time entrepreneur or you’re just starting up an idea on the side. This applies to all of us.

Before finishing these first four lines I got up twice for water and coffee, I took a few minutes to find the “perfect” soundtrack to write too, checked stats on a campaign, and even looked for a new plugin to see if my average spelling and grammar skills could be improved by something in the WordPress plugin store.

It’s Easy to Get Distracted From What Matters Most

As a creative and driven person one of my lifelong struggles has been finding ways to trick myself into being disciplined and consistent with my tasks. I’d rather be reading, learning, and floating through each day doing what I want when I want to. The problem with this approach is that nothing of substance gets done. I can’t expect that I’ll move toward my goals if I don’t put a plan of action in place that forces me into doing what is most important.

Doing the work is the most important thing you can do every day if you want to be successful. I remember when I first read Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own WayThat book really changed my perspective on what was important on a daily basis. Simply put, you must do the work if you want to find the success you’re ultimately looking for.

Do the work.

It’s really that simple and that hard all at once. Everything inside of us often wants to run away, to be distracted, and to do anything to avoid what we know needs to be done. You may not be conscious of this in your daily life yet, but I hope that after reading this you’ll bring it into focus. Most of our busy daily activities are simply cover ups of the resistance that we feel and the ultimate avoidance of the work that we know deep down we must do.

The problem is that as an entrepreneur there is no boss.

I have dozens of people on my team now at Copywriter Today, and one of the things that I’ve worked on consistently is removing waste from their daily activities. I know that I can’t remove it all, but I can remove some and manage the rest of the waste. My guess is that through no fault of their own they probably waste 20% of their time with busy work that I haven’t found a way to remove yet.

As an entrepreneur, the founder of the company, I face a different struggle than them. Sometimes I get to the end of my day and I feel like I’ve wasted 80% of my day. It’s a horrible feeling that literally makes me sick to my stomach because I spend so much time thinking about the giant monster that is resistance. He stands in my doorway and tries to block my path to success hour by hour. I hate when he wins and I hate thinking about the long term consequences of letting him win too frequently during the course of the day and the week.

It’s not like we don’t deserve time off or relaxation as entrepreneurs, we definitely need those, but sometimes (like my friend Jack Wilson reminded me yesterday) it feels like have only two speeds. We are either going 100 miles an hour or zero miles an hour. There is no in between option. This approach to entrepreneurship is hard to sustain long term. In my late teens and early twenties it was no problem to pull all nights and stay up 24-36 hours every month or two. Today I don’t think I could sustain that same schedule for long.

Eventually the crazy schedules are harder to keep, we get life responsibilities like partners, children, and staff that depend on us to be awake and functioning during the “regular” business hours that they keep. I’ve gone from staying up very late, to getting up earlier and earlier. I also go through seasons where I sleep in until later and those times are important too. I have finally learned to listen to what my body is telling me and I’ve realized it’s ok to not be pushing extremely hard every single day for weeks on end. It definitely comes in cycles and seasons so I try to listen to that. Over the summer I really didn’t get up early, I spent a lot of time resting and relaxing, and that’s healthy too. That was honestly “the work” that I really needed to do during that season.

It’s Hard When You’re Doing the Work and Still Totally Stuck

Yesterday I spent 6+ hours working on one single technical detail of the new course that I’ll be releasing sometime in November. It made me think of something my friend Stuart’s dad used to say years ago. He used to say “sometimes we have to go around the mountain again and again and again until we find the right path up it”. That’s exactly what it felt like yesterday. I was trying to find the right process to connect my membership checkout process to the course details. I installed and tested four different platforms and at the end of the day I ended up right back where I had started.

That’s another thing you have to watch out for, getting to far into the details. 

I’ve learned over time that functional is better than perfect. Generally I am pretty good about launching new ideas very quickly so this rarely hangs me up, but yesterday I had to struggle and struggle just to be absolutely sure that I had already implemented the best solution. I rarely do this anymore, but I could tell you dozens of stories about days and weeks wasted where I was trying to fix something that didn’t need fixed.

If you look at your own daily schedule right now, or the agenda you have in your mind, are you really working on things that matter? Or are you just creating struggles that keep you “stuck” and prevent you from doing the really important work that you know needs to be done. My good friend David and I recently talked about this on his show and even David who is years ahead of me in his entrepreneurial journey faces this struggle as well.

So be honest with yourself right now. Are you stuck? Or are you just creating distractions for yourself. If you’re stuck then there is a simple way to fix that, and it is the right step in doing the work that will help you be successful more quickly. Let’s talk about that next so we all stay on track today.

Take Action on Your Real Goals

Staying stuck just builds that sick to your stomach feeling, or it just creates more stress in the back of your mind. Either way it’s not going to help you one bit. Taking action on your goals will help you do the important work that will move you forward. Here are just a few of the ways that I take action when I’m stuck:

  1. I schedule a meeting with one of my mentors or business coaches and get their advice
  2. I put a date in my calendar and invite one of my teammates to it so I show up prepared with some or all of the work done
  3. I hire a service to help me where I’m stuck (for example I’ll buy some software, or hire someone to do a service that I can’t do efficiently)
  4. I use my Pomodoro timer to focus on short bursts of productivity
  5. I put my goal out publicity to my followers or someone else who can hold me accountable

Those are just a few of the ways that I push myself past the stuck position when I’m working on my goals. I find that personal accountability is probably the most effective. I don’t know anyone who likes showing up to a meeting with me unprepared with none of their work done. I’d venture to say that you feel that way too. If you and I were to meet tomorrow and you were supposed to have an outline for your project done and sent to me, odds are that you would send it over on time. That’s why that accountability tactic is one that I’ve used successfully for years. You should use it to!

Why Did I Write This Today?

I’ve been struggling this week with being efficient. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I’m stuck and questioning if I’ve been doing the work. I know that I’ve been making some progress, but it’s been slow progress at best. I bet that I’m not alone, I bet like you’ve felt that way before too, am I right? I don’t want anyone to feel like their entrepreneurial struggle is unique, or that they are alone on their journey. That’s why I wrote this today for you.

Don’t allow yourself to stay stuck.

Don’t get distracted from the real work, the important work that you know you need to do.

Don’t hide all by yourself when you’re struggling. Reach out and get help!

Finally, what are your thoughts? Is there something that has really helped you push through and be productive on a daily basis? I’d love to hear about it, so please share your thoughts in the comments below, and of course, if you found this post valuable, please share it!

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