The Dark Side of Owning Your Own Business


shAMA: Ask Me Anything – Episode 9

I’m so excited to answer your questions on ‘Marketing and the World Around It. To get your question answered on the show, write to me using the hashtag #shAMA!


Click here for the full transcript!

Hey guys, welcome to another episode of Ask Shama where you guys ask me questions and I do my best to answer them. This question comes from Shoheb who sent me an email and said, “Hey Shama, I wanted to ask for some advice. I started my company right out of school. Since 2014 I’ve been working full time on my venture. Every day I’m making progress but the daily ups and downs of having your own business is getting to me. What was your experience when you were first starting off and how did you handle the day to day stress?” Shoheb, excellent question, we’ve all been there.


If you run your own business, if you actually even have a job these days, the work place tends to be really demanding and the pressure is on so how do you deal with that? How do you deal with the day to day, especially when running your own business and not let it get you down? A couple of things that I will share with you Shona that I hope will help you.


One is my personal story. Obviously many of you know that I started my company right out of grad school when I was 23 years old and had no background business prior experience in the corporate world or otherwise and of course today I run the Marketing Zen group which is a 30% web marketing, digital PR firm, blows my mind but there were definitely days which were difficult. I’m not going to lie. That’s just the process of being an entrepreneur. There are still days when I look up and I’m like, “Remind me why I do this again.” And of course I look at a lot of you and I’m like, “Oh yeah, I do love what I do.”


A couple of tips that I will share with you, the first thing is to not let the thoughts become permanent and what I mean by that is just by having awareness that you may be having a tough day and today’s tougher but tomorrow will be better can really give you that strength that you need to keep going. I think it’s the start of, “Oh my God, this is how I feel and this is how I’m going to feel forever.” That’s what really gets a lot of people down so we think you have to be able to look at it and say, “What I’m feeling, what I’m thinking is impermanent. I will feel differently tomorrow.” Today maybe you had to fire someone and you feel terrible about it, tomorrow you may land that client you were really after and you may feel better so you have to know that how you feel will continue to change day by day.


The other thing is take time to celebrate the little wins. This is something, full confession, I’m always really honest with you guys, I’m not great at this. What I mean by that is you have to take time to appreciate the wins. For me it’s always about what can we do better or stronger, faster but it really is important to take a breath and say, “Hey what do I appreciate? What am I really grateful for?” And while I do have a lot of gratitude for a lot of things in my life, really a lot of things I do have a hard time slowing down and savoring a success sometimes. My team is really great about that and they’ll remind me and say, “Hey Shama this client just signed another year with us. They loved what we were doing. That’s exciting. We should take a moment and celebrate.” Do celebrate your little wins.


The other thing I’ll say is keeping in mind there’ll always be something more that you want to accomplish, do, there’s always going to be something else you desire and that’s okay, that is human nature. I have to remind myself of that often. For me it’s a moving target. It’s never like one day you wake up and you’re like, “Well I’m here, I’ve made it. I’m going back to bed.” It’s that you always want something more and that striving, that desire for it, that’s what really drives me at least and my passion to keep going because I know that I’m never going to be fully satisfied, that I enjoy the process too much, that I love building and creating and sharing and that’s what drives me. These are questions you definitely have to ask yourself.


The other thing that I would recommend is you check out this Japanese concept which I’ve become recently a fan of called Wabi Sabi and very simply put, and I’m really distilling it, Wabi Sabi is this idea that everything isn’t permanent and that’s okay, everything has its time and place. A time to grow, a time to stand still, a time to hold back, a time to speak up and authenticity is so key. I really like this concept because it means that you don’t have to be so focused on perfectionist tendencies of saying, “Hey I’ve got to get it perfect.” No, you just got to get it started and you have to be willing to learn along the way and as long as you keep learning you’re doing just fine, I promise you. Hope that helps Shona.


We’d love to hear if you guys have more questions for me or keep up with all our content definitely go to and subscribe. That will put you on our VIP list and that way you’ll be in the know, everything I know I share. All right guys, tune in next week.


–Episode Question–
Question from Shoheb: “I started my company right out of college and since 2014 I have been working full-time on this business. Each day I am making progress but with the daily “ups and downs” of having your own business is getting to me. What was your experience when you were starting off? How did you handle the day-to-day stress?”

Lesson #1: “Don’t let bad thoughts become permanent.”

Lesson #2: “Celebrate the little wins.”

Lesson #3: “Your goals will change. Don’t expect perfection.”

Lesson #4: “Consider pursuing Wabi Sabi – Japanese worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.


–Connect with Shama–
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