Any commitment–from going to school to having children to training for a 5K to marriage–will have its rough patches. They're a normal, natural part of the cycles of discovery, growth, learning and realignment.
Creating and running a business is no different.
Giving birth to a business, nurturing it, maintaining it throughout its lifecycle, is just as much a commitment as any of the prior examples. Yet somehow we expect it to be inherently, magically different.
We approach our business believing that if we just choose the right business model, if we make sure the business grows out of our deepest passion, if we build it based on our creativity and innate gifts, somehow we'll transcend the rough patches. It will be a stroll in the park, a frolic through the meadow, all the time.
It's really not.
And thank goodness that it's not–if it really were as permanently easy and perpetually stressless as some sales pitches make it seem, there would be no learning. No growth. No new discoveries. No a-ha! moments. No deepening of our appreciation for the times when it is an easy, peaceful, frolic through the meadow.
The rough patches we encounter as we journey along our commitments are necessary, and they are gifts.
They usually don't feel like gifts in the moment that they're requiring very late nights followed by very early mornings, or at the moment you realize they involve technical challenges that push you to the limits of your knowledge or resources, or as they're invoking your deepest insecurities right up against your deepest passions and callings.
But those are places where we grow.
This is when we discover, when we make new choices–or recommit to the choices we've made before. It's when we realign our business so that it can continue developing while still supporting our priorities and values.
There is no such thing as a business that exists independent of rough patches, challenges, or frustrations.
There is no such thing as a business model that removes 100% of late nights and stress.
If you find yourself in a rough patch, it is not because you chose the wrong passion to pursue, or because you're “doing it wrong.” It's because you're human, and very likely because you're on the right path.
If you experience nothing but rough patches, on the other hand, that's a sign that something needs adjustment. Perhaps your business model, perhaps your attitude about your business model, perhaps your team, perhaps your product or service… suffice to say that if your business journey is truly nothing but difficult, it's time to reevaluate the journey.
But if you sometimes experience rough patches, if you sometimes work through long nights and early mornings, if you sometimes find yourself pushing your limits–congratulations, you're in business, you're human, and it's a sign that you're growing (in knowledge, in profits, in team size, in dream size, etc.).
Don't abandon your pursuit when you hit the rough patches.
Don't fall into the belief that building your passions is synonymous with a state of enlightened blissfulness uninterrupted by concerns, challenges, or stress. And don't wallow in the difficulty either. Greet it with curiosity, a willingness to learn, adapt and evolve, and the knowledge that this too is can-do-able.
Because it is.
And when you come through the other side of this challenge, you'll know more and you'll know better. That's necessary for a successful business. It prepares you for the next challenge… and it makes the next frolic in the meadow that much sweeter.