How to Deal with Emotions as an Entrepreneur
Updated: Apr 12, 2020
When I interviewed Fred Mouawad last year for the Hotelintel.co ‘Get to Know’ section, he mentioned something that was very intriguing to me because it was something I had been struggling with.
So, I think invited Fred to collaborate in this article and help me see the light in how to deal with emotions as an entrepreneur. Mind you, I might be extra emotional as I am a woman and also I just gave birth.
Guilt - Guilt is something I had been experiencing just recently. There were times when I was young when people would say something like ‘Too ambitious’, ‘Wanting too much’, ‘Why can’t you just be happy with what you have’, and I would allow those words to affect me. Later, I realized there was nothing wrong with that and because I wanted to make the most of my life doesn’t mean that I wasn’t happy with what I had. The older I get, the less self-doubt I have.
Fred: Entrepreneurs don’t have the need for a lot of social support. The opinion of others has no relevance on who you are and what you need to do in order to build a business. People are not you, and you cannot expect them to understand you. You need to find comfort in who you are and what you do, and not care about what other people think or say. Building a business requires a lot of sacrifices, and generally while your friends are having fun you’re probably working. This is what it takes to increase the odds of success. You need to set clear priorities as to what is important to you, be comfortable with who you are, know that most people will not understand you, and accept that your entourage will gossip behind your back.
Fred Mouawad, fourth generation Co-Guardian of Mouawad, the family jewelry business, Founder & Chairman of Synergia One Group.
Too Excited / Too Sad / Too Emotional - Like I said, I can be very emotional and sometimes I would let it get into my way of business.
Fred: We are constantly exposed to information flows throughout the day. Some news is good and some isn’t, and it comes any time. If we reacted to the type of news we receive, we would become highly emotional and erratic beings. Business requires consistency and the ability to deal with difficult situations all the time. If we allow for our emotions to take over, we don’t leave much room for the analytical and rational side to function. If the news is upsetting, you can focus energy on being angry or on staying calm to figure out how to best solve the problem. From experience and observation the latter behavior gives far better results.
Someone who gets angry may show their anger, but will not focus enough time on fixing the problem. To fix problems requires calmness, discussion, thought, analysis, exploring solutions, deciding, and then the ability to motivate others to action. If you’re a “1” or “9” on an emotional scale, it’s hard to move through the process. A “5” keeps you steady right in the middle. Not too hot and not too cold.
Next time you receive news, stop. Try not to react, and let your mind take over. Quickly visualize a scale of “1” to “10” with the ability to select where you want to be, and set the knob at “5” out of “10,” and see how you behave.
Burn Out - I believe in work until you can't. If your list of things to do isn't complete, you shouldn't go to bed. I worked on my wedding day. I read my emails right after my delivery and I worked the next day, which was stupid because I was in pain and it wasn’t productive. But things must get done and action should be taken.
Fred: It’s impossible for me to go to bed completing all my work. If that was my goal, I would never justify going to bed. I would burn out tomorrow. I just have too much to do. The key is to make sure we have a productive day, and that we spend our time on matters that have the most impact. I’m very careful with how I spend my time. I measure it by “impact contribution on time.” How much impact do I contribute per hour? If I’m spending an hour doing work with low impact, then I stop doing it.
I keep my hours open for how I can make the most difference. Also, not everything can be finished in one day, so I plan my days, weeks, and yearly calendar in advance so I can allocate the right time to projects that are long term. As an example, I’m hoping that by answering the questions you ask in this article, I can provide readers with one or two ideas they can implement to become more effective.
Take it Personally - It's hard to have to take no for an answer and I used to beat myself up for it. Some business deals that I just knew I would get but which didn’t come through hurt like a heartbreak and I would go through all the WHYs and wasted my time and energy for a lost cause. Until later, when I realize that I, myself, said no to people plenty of times and sometimes it’s just a business decision and it is the right thing to do at that given moment.
Fred: We will always at one point face a “no” for an answer. We can’t take a “no” personally, until we know why the person said “no.” If you offer a service or product and the customer does not need it, then the “no” is a question of mismatching an offer with what the customer wants. You pitched to the wrong audience or you don’t have the right product/market fit.
The real question is whether you should ask, and if so, what is the risk of asking? In most cases asking, even if the other person says “no,” is better than not asking at all. You need to have the courage to ask and take action, as trying is far more valuable than inaction because we’re afraid of the “no.” When the risk is low, fear must go.
Fear of Failing - This is one thing I have never experienced. In fact, I’m the opposite. If I want to do something, I just do it though sometimes it becomes a disaster because I don’t plan well enough - I just do it! So, when people ask me how to start a business you could imagine my answer. I just say ‘Just go and do it’. I have seen many good ideas not being created because a person is scared to start.
Fred: Failing is learning. When starting a business, you have to enter it willing to lose all the money you invest and know you will still economically survive because of the skills and knowledge you gain from the experience. You may lose the capital, but you will not lose the learning and the experience you gain along the way. If you value the experience, and the learning, and are resilient, starting a business even if you don’t succeed economically will make you stronger and wiser.
Business is about experimenting. You run a real experiment and then learn about what did or did not work, and if you are a true entrepreneur you will keep on trying until you find a model that works. It’s not for everyone. If safety and comfort are more important to an individual, then they should not try to become an entrepreneur. If you have an idea you think will be valued by the market by doing enough research, are driven, have access to enough start-up capital, and are ready to make considerable sacrifices, then go ahead.
I’m writing this article in the hope that it would help those who are struggling in this entrepreneurial journey. When I started it, I chose to go down this path alone. I had no mentor, and I had experienced a lot of downturns by not listening to any advice or not even trying to seek advice. Sometimes I’m glad I didn’t, but sometimes I regretted not doing so. But, if I could have one piece of advice for my younger self I would have listened more … to apply it or not is another story but I would definitely have listened and learned more.