2020 has been a tough year. Well, that’s an understatement. 2020 has been the kind of year where you go to check the mail for your package, only to find out that your parcel box has been crushed by a tree, to then find out that the tree hosted a nest of hornets — err — murder hornets — who now reside in the fallen mail box. Yes, that’s the kind of ride 2020 has been.

But even with the problems of this year, I still came across an all too classic post on my Facebook timeline. It was a former female classmate of mine sharing the success of their new business despite the challenges this year has been. She then went on to say that others have used 2020 as a year for excuses, not her. Like a strong wave, she allowed the current to propel her closer to her goals, while criticizing those who the tide had knocked down.

While I was glad to see someone carve out their own success amidst their turmoil; I didn’t agree with her sentiment that 2020 was a smokescreen for people to exacerbate their inertia. With 1 in 4 businesses closing in America, the decision to not start, slow down, or even close an existing business was, for many, a very real decision. A decision that in and of itself took work. It’s not easy to walk away from one’s dreams. As American writer Suzy Kassem said — “A heart without dreams is like a bird without feathers.” With a lot of ‘featherless’ entrepreneurs who had to temporarily put their dreams on pause, 2020 was pretty damn cold.

But this blog isn’t meant to be an explanation of all things bleak in the world. Unlike the entrepreneur on my morning timeline, I offer some advice. Look at your life holistically. Look at your life as parts of a whole. Wouldn’t it be a lot harder to complete a puzzle before knowing what the final picture ought to look like? Likewise, never, ever look at a piece of your life separate from the whole. This mindset, known as a holistic mindset, can help you tremendously in both your personal life and your entrepreneurial life. What does this look like practically? I’ll detail it below.

A step a day is eventually a mile, and a mile is eventually a marathon.

If you’re not familiar, Reddit has a subreddit known as AMA — Ask Me Anything. There, people of certain distinctions, and sometimes notable figures such as celebrities, will post a thread where redditors can, as the name suggests, ask them anything. Arnold Schwarznegger took to Reddit, writing “I want to hear some crazy questions. Don’t be soft, Reddit.” One redditor in particular shared how he was struggling with depression and neglected going to the gym. Here is their exchange:

Arnold’s touching response speaks to us all. Beating ourselves up does us no good, but taking little steps in our life, no matter how small, can make a tremendous difference. So ask yourself— why is entrepreneurship any different? Maybe you can’t start a business this year. Maybe you lost the one you started already. But just as this redditor likely lost all gains at the gym, doesn’t mean they can’t start things back up again. Even if you’re at the point of bankruptcy doesn’t mean you can’t bounce back again (as these, and many more entrepreneurs have proven)!

A holistic mindset takes Arnold’s advice a step further. Let’s be real, sometimes life isn’t just being shoved backward in progress, but unable to move forward. Right now many aspiring entrepreneurs simply cannot do anything for their business as they devote their resources to other aspects of their lives. But focusing on other areas of your life doesn’t mean neglecting your entrepreneurial spirit. Holistic entrepreneurship teaches us that all parts are important to the whole. Therefore, the entrepreneur as an individual is just as important as the other pieces of a business, e.g., the product, the marketing, so on and so forth.

Recognizing that you as a person are a part of the business journey is critical in preserving the entrepreneurial spirit in these troubling times. If you had to close your business to get a day job and build back up your savings, you are still an entrepreneur. If you had to put your startup on pause because the demand simply isn’t there at the moment, you are still an entrepreneur. If you simply don’t want to begin the entrepreneurial journey because you’re not in the mental space right now, you are STILL an entrepreneur. You are not just the actor in the journey, you are part of the journey itself.

So what are some easy steps you can take? Here’s three you can start today:

1. Getting your doctor’s visits in order.

If you have insurance — I implore you to use this time to assess your physical health. Even if you suspect nothing is wrong, do your wellness exams. Being proactive, rather than reactive, will greatly help you when you do decide to kick start or restart your business again. Plus, with many working remotely, and the rise of telemedicine, there’s greater windows of opportunities to go to the doctor than before. If you are without insurance, reach out to your local offices! There are plans and initiatives designed to help. Just remember, wear a mask!

2. Research the market trends.

Putting your business on pause doesn’t mean putting your entrepreneurial drive on pause. Take this time to study the newly emerging changes in the market. As the saying goes, one door closed is another open! Again, approach this with a holistic mindset. Researching trends doesn’t have to mean spending hours on your computer analyzing market data — time you may not even have right now. It can mean talking to your peers, meeting new people, learning what people’s concerns are right now, what opportunities are opening up in your local economy in the most micro way. Holistic entrepreneurship is taking every interaction you have and putting an entrepreneurial spin on it — what are the moments in your life teaching you about the market? Training yourself to recognize market signals, even if you cannot act on them right now, will undoubtedly make you a stronger entrepreneur.

3. Just learn how to take care of yourself.

Look, I get it. 2020 is hard. At some point in a successful entrepreneurial journey, a business will grow and take on employees, and the solo entrepreneur will suddenly become an executive officer, not just commanding capital, but commanding people. How will you ever become a successful CEO without understanding, at the most fundamental level, how to deal with people? How to deal with yourself? I cannot stress this enough: holistic entrepreneurship is looking at the everyday things in life, and putting an entrepreneurial spin on it. I understand there are days that all you can do is find the strength to get out of bed. I’ve been there. Sometimes, I’m still there. But even in that bleak state, you learn a lot about human nature, don’t you? You learn, for instance, the psychological effects of stress, and how systematic issues can actually feel like they’re physically weighing down on you. That is a deeply profound commentary on the human psyche and economic externalities. And you didn’t need some podcast or college-education to teach you that, you just needed a little mindful reflection. I pray that you’re not, but even if you’re suffering, you can channel that pain into wisdom, and so that wisdom into the entrepreneur that you will grow to be. It may not be today, it may not be for a while, but if you have the will, it’ll be eventually. Prioritize your well-being, and remember that it doesn’t make you any less of an entrepreneur to simply rest.

It is my greatest hope that this mindset serves as a reminder to appreciate the little things in your entrepreneurial path. We like to say at Never Too Late To Start that… well it’s never too late to start a business. And while there’s a very literal meaning to that — that is the legal formalization of your business entity, let us not invalidate the everyday little steps of starting a business. Because sometimes, as Arnold pointed out, it just means getting up and doing something. Being mindful of how you can channel your interactions into an entrepreneurial spirit will truly make a difference. I believe in you! As always, if you need advice in your business, please reach out to us at info@nevertoolatetostart.org , we’re all in this together!