The butterflies, the excitement, the endless possibilities stretched before you. The romance of a life yet to be created together. I’m talking about starting a business, but I could just as easily be talking about falling in love.
I am constantly asked the question “How did you conquer your fears and take the leap of faith to start your business?” I could easily answer this question in the same old way, “Just feel the fear and do it anyway!” “I was prepared to fail!” “It’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t!” But the truth is, I was not scared. I was excited. I had nothing to lose. Am I scared now? Shit yes. Did I think too hard before falling in love with my high school sweetheart? Am I scared now that life is real, raw and we have an 8 month baby and a business to feed? Yes. But both were born from love and it is love that requires you to keep going.
When you start your business, you’re caught up in the newness of it all. In love, you’re blinded by your feelings for the person, thinking about all of the things you’ll be able to do together, the fun times you’ll be able to share. In business, you’re blinded by your enthusiasm for a new project, the possibilities that await, that electric feeling that comes with taking a risk, pursuing a dream and feeling ‘on purpose’.
In the early days, everything is viewed through rose-tinted glasses, not giving a thought to the challenges that inevitably lie ahead. Both relationships and business come with ups and downs, peaks and troughs. Sure, there will be plenty of good times, but the hard times go hand in hand with the good. We are all chasing that overnight success or love at first sight moment. But if someone said to you, “You know this thing that you feel passionate about and you’ve made a business; are you prepared to stick it out through sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for at least 10 years and reward is not at all guaranteed?” Would you do it?
As time goes on, the relationship continues to blossom, the business begins to grow. The decision to get married is much like the decision to hire employees. You’re now deciding to share your life with this person, just as you are building the business beyond yourself and sharing the dream with others. It’s not just about you anymore and this can be daunting. Challenges will arise but you work through them and emerge stronger.
You make promises at this stage - your brand values and brand bible become your promise to your team, your customers and the world, while your wedding vows become your promise to your partner. You pledge your accountability to your significant other and to your business and the promises themselves reinvigorate your passion for it all. You’ve established something special and the further along the journey you go, the more history you create, strengthening your ties to it.
As time goes on however, the honeymoon phase comes to an end and you’ll find yourself facing trials and tribulations. Your reality might not look the way you had imagined and this can make you second guess yourself. There are days when you thinking about giving up and you begin to doubt your why, but all of a sudden you receive a thank you email from a satisfied customer or a sweet text message from your significant other and it helps you to snap out of that negative cycle.
Reflecting on your history and reminiscing on the good times also works in a similar way. After the first year of Dream & Do, we created what we like to call our ‘Yearbook Video’, a highlight reel of the past 12 months featuring the people we’ve met and worked with, the offices and spaces we’ve called home and the victories, big and small.
Looking back on this kind of thing can help to remind you why you began in the first place. Remembering how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished can give you a reason to keep going. Looking back on old snaps of you and your partner has the same effect. It reminds you of all that you’ve shared together, and this history, in both business and love, makes you realise what you’d be throwing away if you were to give up. I have our wedding vows framed in our room next to a couple of wedding photos, and when the going gets tough, it helps to read them to feel the energy and love I put into writing that promise.
Falling in love is easy. Starting a business is easy. Staying committed when times are tough is the hard part. We often hear advice aimed at keeping the passion alive in a long-term relationship and in my opinion, it is just as important to keep the passion alive in your business.
According to Forbes, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months - almost the same amount of time it takes for the infamous ‘two year itch’ to set in. I often wonder how many of these businesses have in fact been ‘given up’ due to ‘failure’ as opposed to being ‘given up’ because things had gotten hard. The same goes for relationships. Could things have lasted longer if the people involved had been willing to stick it out when times got tough?
Prior to entering into a relationship or business venture, I believe one must look at the situation as a long term commitment rather than a fling.
Entrepreneur, startup, #girlboss - these buzzwords are all the rage at the moment and starting a business has become a bit of a trend in recent times. Entrepreneurial magazines and the glorification of entrepreneurs to the point of ‘celebrity’ has served to romanticise the idea of owning a business.
People crave freedom and dream of building something of their own, but quite often they are so focused on the outcome and obsessed with achieving their final result that they forget about the challenging and downright difficult journey involved in reaching that destination. They want the result but they don’t want the struggle. Sure, there are some overnight successes - those elusive business unicorns who achieve meteoric success in a short period of time but it’s a rare tale and anything of value generally takes hard work.
To last the distance, one needs to remember the original love that fuelled the relationship or business in the first place and ensure those all-important vows and promises are revisited during the rough patches.
We don’t claim to be relationship experts, but we certainly know a lot about business and if there’s one thing we like to advocate, it’s the importance of branding. Branding is more than a logo, a brand put simply, is the heart and soul of your business. Essentially your brand is your values, your promise to the world and like all matters of the heart, building a strong brand requires a whole lotta love.
Dream & Do was a passionate fling that got pretty serious pretty quickly, some would say that we took things too fast. I’ve spent more time with this lover in the past few years than than my husband. I believe that Dream & Do was a brand at first sight, with the heart to last a lifetime.
So, dear entrepreneur. No matter what stage you are at, if you love what you do then please keep doing it and repeat after me.
"I, ___, take you, ___, for my business and brand, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part."
Struggling to ignite the passion in your business? Do you need some clarity to keep pushing forward?
A brand developed by Dream & Do is full of heart. We create a mission and a vision for your business in the form of your very own brand bible, giving you something to refer to when you’re in need of the love. Keep the passion alive, get in touch with Dream & Do and ensure you and your business have the romance of a lifetime.
Join us for our next Cereal Entrepreneurs event, ‘Minimum Viable Brand’ at Fishburners on the 21st of February at 7am. We will be interviewing Angus Vidor from tech start-up, Leezair followed by a creative workshop ‘Stand up Creative’ by Dream & Do founder and creative director, Tara Shelton. Grab your tickets here.