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Chin up, CEOs: The business problems you’re facing, we’re all facing

The challenges of running a business are felt by all of us as business owners. Trust me.

What it feels like to run a business, most of the time…

Last month, I met with several CEOs. One of them was on the brink of shutting down his business.

His company was having serious cash flow problems. A $30,000/month office lease was pushing his business closer and closer to bankruptcy each day.

Upon hearing this, one of the other CEOs in the room sighed all too knowingly:

“Well, I’m about to sign a 22-million dollar lease if it makes you feel any better.”

We all laughed. In that room together, we’d realized one comforting, relieving truth:

This job of being CEO is hard. And it’s hard for everyone.

It doesn’t matter if you run a 10-person company with a $30,000 lease or a 200-person company with a $22 million lease. If you’re a CEO, you know what hardship feels like. Problems don’t go away. They only evolve. And everyone faces them.

Everyone goes through this. Everyone.

I was reminded of this again more recently when I attended Owner Camp in Denver. It’s a retreat held several times a year where thirty or so digital agency owners come together to talk about the highs and lows of running a company.

You realize this feeling of “ugh wow this is really hard” is not unique to you. You’re not alone. Most business owners (if not all) don’t really know what they’re doing. There’s no where you can go learn “How To Run a Company.” There’s no instruction manual.

As a new CEO, this is music to my ears. I’ve been running Know Your Company for nine months now, and I’ve often times wondered, “Am I the only one struggling this much? Is it supposed to be this hard?”

So to hear from folks who’ve been running companies for twelve, thirteen, fourteen years and hear them say, “Yeah this is hard for me too”… It gives me peace of mind that I’m not screwing things up too badly.

And you as a CEO are not screwing things up, either. Most likely, you’re actually doing pretty okay. Things aren’t as bad as you think they are.

Your problems are normal. The self-doubt, the frustration, the road blocks, the things that blindside you and derail you from where you thought you were heading….That’s the trade-off you make when you decide to take the road less traveled and start a company. When you’re trying to create something from nothing, and have a direct impact on people’s lives — it’s hard.

So don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that it’s hard for everyone who is on this path, as well.

Remember that this job is hard for everyone.

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Written by Claire Lew

CEO of Canopy. My mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Say hi to me on Twitter at @clairejlew.