If you’re struggling at the moment or just on the up after a season of challenge, know that you’re not alone. COVID-19 has continued to take a toll on small businesses, with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reporting that 43% of small businesses (nearly half) have had to temporarily close. These numbers only continue to rise as the economy remains stagnant, ping-ponging between loosened restrictions and cautionary measures. Increased time spent at home, marital or relational conflict, lost jobs, and fading hope have all been experienced to some degree even as 2021 begins.
What inspires me most about entrepreneurs is our growth mindset. It’s never been easier to throw in the towel – on our businesses, our dreams, or even our happiness. And yet, many entrepreneurs are still making it work however they can. It’s through times of great struggle that great perseverance is born. In fact, struggling may birth new inspiration to show up differently in your business, go after that long-held dream, or be more of yourself than you’ve ever been. At the heart of it, struggles show us just how little we can take for granted.
Here are a few entrepreneurs who overcame struggles in their lives, and how it lended to greater inspiration.
Overcoming Personal Struggles
At times, personal struggles can feel like they’re on the opposite end of our business lives. We try to keep them separate, but they can tug on one another, making it hard to be fully present to both at the same time. Jess Crow is the founder of Crow Creek Designs, a woman-run, woman-led woodworking shop that has caught the attention of people like Gary Vaynerchuck’s team. She views her work – her art – as a means of therapy for the many personal struggles that she has overcome and that she’s still dealing with. But beyond this, she’s also found that being honest about her struggles is a way that she connects with her audience.
“I am often told that my honesty about how scared I was to do my first Instagram story helped someone do their first one. Words like that remind me that people not only follow me for my building/art and what they can learn from me, but they join my community because I am honest about my struggles and how I work to learn from them and beat them,” she shared. “I don’t hide that I am frustrated with a build or I screwed up and have to start from scratch. I also don’t hide that I get nervous in front of a camera but that I love teaching in front of a 1,000 people with all my heart. Inspiration comes in many forms, and those forms often overlap in ways we don’t expect.” In Crow’s case, being vulnerable and honest about her struggles allowed her to inspire beyond her art, and we are seeing how vulnerability breaks through the social media noise more and more.
It’s important to note that this isn’t about complaining, but about being transparent and finding a silver lining in all of it for your audience.
Arianna Huffington, media mogul and founder of both Huffington Post and Thrive Global, was rejected over 36 times by publishers at the beginning of her career. In fact, in 2018 she tweeted the following for #ShareYourRejection: “My second book was rejected by 36 publishers. After 25 rejections, I was broke and walked into a bank and asked for a loan, which, shockingly, they gave me. That allowed me to keep going for 12 more rejections. But, as they say, the 38th time’s the charm.”
Like we all would, she did consider a change in professions and it wasn’t easy to rely on loans from the bank. But, she leaned on the advice her mother gave her: “Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a stepping stone to success.” If she had given up on even the 30th rejection, the world would never know Arianna Huffington the way that we know her now.
It’s no secret that many businesses will need to permanently close their doors because of financial pressures. This is why it’s critical to learn the stories of other greats who went bankrupt and still bounced back. Bankruptcy, going broke, or going into debt can feel like a permanent dead end for many founders. Walt Disney actually dealt with tremendous debt in the 20’s and 30’s after hiring many animators and losing the rights to the character of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but they scraped by just enough to produce and release Snow White, which rocketed them out of debt.
Cyndi Lauper also had to file for bankruptcy when her first band, Blue Angel, didn’t take off. Instead of giving up, she worked retail and in restaurants to support her music career, and we all know how that turned out.
Whatever you are currently facing will pass. Those who bounced back from failure or found purpose in struggle are no different than you. By learning their stories, we can tap into the faith needed to turn this time into our biggest inspiration.