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Thought Leadership

Inspired by Randy Gerber’s first book, The Integrated Entrepreneur: Achieving Happiness in Relationships, Business & Life, we are highlighting the five stages of business success first-generation entrepreneurs go through, with a five-part blog series designed to help you thrive in all your adventures. 

In this second blog of the series, we feature the second stage of business success: the Trapped Stage. 

What is the Trapped Stage? 

Like most entrepreneurs, you probably left a stable, well-paying job to pursue your dreams of running your own business. The reality of the instability in your financial and personal future can be stunning. 

In the Trapped Stage, entrepreneurs experience how difficult success can be.

  • Your business earns revenue at a predictable and reliable enough rate that it is solvent for the immediate future. 
  • You’ve hired staff to address the mundane, yet important, administrative tasks associated with keeping a business running. 
  • You are “all in” from an emotional, intellectual, and financial perspective, but the enthusiasm from Stage One is fading. 

Though surviving this stage is not for the faint of heart, with a bit of advice and keen investments in your business (and yourself!), you can emerge triumphant from this trial of will and skill. 

Tips for Thriving Through the Trapped Stage: 

  1. Set a limit on how much of your own money to invest. 

    It’s important to stay solvent during this time. Investing too much of your money can make the Trapped Stage even more stressful. Try to avoid signing a lease personally, and, if you have to invest your money in the business, do so in a way that does not do irreparable harm to your personal balance sheet. 

  2. Communicate deliberately with your team.  

    Make sure your employees don’t travel with you through the fire. Communicating with them daily about progress keeps them engaged and informed, but you should consider keeping them unaware of the personal anxiety that you are facing. Tell them what they need to feel taken care of, and find other outlets for your anxieties about the future. 

  3. Focus on the product.  

    Skybus, a Columbus-based airline established in 2007, was a huge source of pride to many local investors, state development officials and prominent companies. Its success was short-lived, however, as mismanagement resulted in lousy food, late planes and customers stranded on Christmas due to mechanical mishaps. If Skybus would’ve focused on providing quality products from the start, they may have survived.

  4. Exercise, exercise, exercise! 

    Lack of time, mental fatigue and physical exhaustion are easy and convenient excuses for not working out. Exercise actually helps entrepreneurs with business. It stimulates the release of hormones that boosts mood, jumpstarts energy and increases stamina. Schedule exercise several times each week, early in the morning if possible. If conflicts arise, reschedule and protect this precious time.

  5. Consult the experts! 

    Meeting with a lawyer or business-consulting firm (like Gerber) that understands high growth businesses during this time can be incredibly helpful. They can advise on how to structure your business and manage staff to minimize stress. You may also benefit from talking with a business coach or therapist to help manage your many priorities.

For entrepreneurs, getting through the Trapped Stage is a rite of passage. It’s part of the deal, and as stressful and impossible as it may seem at the time, you need to stick with it, put in the effort, and get through it. You’ll save the business, and you’ll learn what you are made of. 

Stay tuned for our third installment of our five-part series on achieving business success – the Light at the End of the Tunnel stage.  If you’d like to learn more about Randy’s book, order your copy on Amazon

How have you experienced the Trapped Stage? Share with us on Facebook and Instagram!