In his book The Slight Edge author Jeff Olson tells the parable to two frogs who get stuck in a bucket of cream. Once in the bucket they realize they are in literally over their heads and have no way to get out. The first frog resigns himself to his fate and gives up voluntarily sinking to the bottom of the bucket to drawn. The second frog says, no way not me. He paddles his little heart out going in circles until he is too tired to continue. Just as he is about to allow himself to sink to his death his foot touches something hard and he is able to push against it to just out of the bucket. Unknowingly, the little frog has turned the cream into butter with all his paddling.
When we first decide to pursue entrepreneurship we often feel like we’ve hit pay dirt. We’ve maybe left an unfulfilling job to follow our dream or maybe we are enticed the by idea of financial freedom. We jump in feet first to the big luscious bucket of entrepreneurial cream and feel drunk with possibilities, but when reality of our choice starts to sink in we panic. What at first seems like a windfall, now seems like a trap. We are flooded with “what if’s” and “how on earth.” How are we going to make a profit when all our money is collateral? How are we going to keep a solid connection with our kids when we are now need to work on weekends? How on earth are we going to get every damn thing done!!
Sometimes in those moments we’re tempted to give up and gracefully bow out, but that would mean giving up on our dream and on ourselves. As entrepreneurs we wear so many hats and if you are in start-up mode the number of different tasks you need to accomplish can be daunting. As the saying goes, however, a journey of a thousand miles start with a single step, and then the next step and the next. Each single step can feel insignificant compared to the distance you still have to cover, but don’t be fooled. Each step is important and each step, not matter how small, is bringing you closer and closer to your goal.
If you are feeling frustrated and on the brink of sinking to the bottom of the bucket, here are some tips to keep you going.
1. Celebrate the little things. I get excited every time I figure out a new technological feature. Will it bring me massive amounts of income? Maybe not immediately, but it is another piece of the puzzle.
2. Remember there have been millions of others who have gone before you. Everybody who is an entrepreneur deals with overwhelm and distraction to some degree. Just keep your head down and keep working.
3. Pay attention to your priorities. What is your most important project? What, if you did it right away would have the biggest impact on your success? Do that thing first.
4. Have faith in the process. Just like the cream that’s turned to into butter, there are many processes that take place under the surface. We plant bulbs in the fall having faith beautiful tulips will shoot up in the spring. You may not see the immediate results of your labors, but you are progressing.
In all honesty, sometimes it’s a royal pain to feel like you are working, working, working and nothing seems to be happening, but really what’s the alternative? Are you going to sink limply to the bottom of the bucket? If you want to be successful that’s not the answer. Instead, take a deep breath, jump in and start paddling. Sooner or later your foot will hit something solid. Only this time it’s not going to be butter, but rather the solid foundation on which you have built your business.