Once you decide to start a business, you set yourself up as a target for doubt and negativity. Although it helps to have a thick skin, entrepreneurs need to pay attention to all sources of input in order to learn their way into business, and it’s not always clear who or who not to listen to.
As I work with entrepreneurs from different communities, the crab bucket story comes up again and again. The analogy goes like this: If you observe a bucket of crabs, you will notice that, for the most part, they just clamor and struggle and go nowhere. As soon as any crab appears to be climbing toward its freedom, the other crabs all pull it back into the bucket, ensuring that none escape.
If the crabs would just work as a team, it’s conceivable that they might help each other to escape, perhaps gain their freedom, and in some way become masters of their own fates. But the crabs just keep each other down.
Crab bucket antics are most prolific in the business start-up realm, most visible as jealousy, resentment, discouragement, and random disrespect for one’s boundaries.
> Well-meaning friends will discourage you, citing notorious business failures
> Old party partners will go to great lengths to get you back into the party game
> Knowing you just scored a business loan or earned a profit, some will try to guilt you into lending them money
> Your acquisition of new equipment will generate gossip and negative comments
I’ve come to realize that the crab bucket action never really goes away. What changes is one’s ability to deal effectively with it. Successful entrepreneurs find ways to deal with negativity and get on with the business of self-improvement. Here are some ways to get and stay on the road to success.
Have a Plan. Planning helps you build resolve. Knowing what you want for you and your business will prepare you to make the right decisions when negativity tugs at your sleeve. A leader sets her goals, charts her path, and then does what it takes to get where she wants to be.
Set Your Boundaries. Take special care to establish your limits and require that business and personal associates respect them. Drop the crazymakers from your life. The party animals that refuse to accept that you have business responsibilities and time commitments will have to go. Don’t hang with people who trample all over your needs.
Surround Yourself with Champions. Network with positive people who will be supportive and help you succeed. As you grow into your business, build a strong network of people who are intent on success. This can include the more supportive of your personal friends and an increasing number of professionals as you progress.
Take Care of You. Setup your own personal and professional development plan. Read great books and subscribe to publications that support your vision and mission. Invest your time in healthy activities that move you toward your goals.
Improving your life is a serious matter, requiring focus and perseverance. Doing so by starting a business is even more rigorous. Prying yourself loose from the jaws of an unwanted or undesirable lifestyle will require distancing yourself from those who would bring you down or keep you there.