By Stephanie Majeran | Owner, Well Run Results

Almost exactly two years ago, I officially started my entrepreneurship journey. Even before it began, I distinctly remember saying on many occasions, "I don’t really know where I’m going to end up, but I know I’m going to meet some awesome people along the way!" And in that, I have not been disappointed. I am so inspired every day by the remarkable ideas and dreams that many of my clients and colleagues are pursuing.

However, a thought that has been plaguing me for a while now was articulated perfectly by an audience member while I was on a panel discussion: When do you know it’s time to give up on your dream? 

Immediately some examples came to mind, both of people who probably should be giving up and of people who persevered through and saw success. My response at that time was that if you were honest with yourself, you would know if it was time. You would know if the struggle was truly worth it. But how many of us really know how to be truly honest with ourselves?

I was recently reminded of the message I heard a year and a half ago from Phil Vischer, creator of the VeggieTales videos. He had a dream to create a hugely successful Christian animation company, which he saw rise quickly, only then to crash and burn before his eyes, despite passion, prayers and adoring fans. In his book, "Me, Myself & Bob," he talks about seeing his dream come to life and the lessons he learned after its failure.

I work with a lot of "creative types" like Vischer and I love them for their ability to dream in big ways that I have trouble comprehending. Practicality and logic tend to be my stronger traits, and so I find myself in uncharted territories when trying to set a vision for my business. From the start, I have been mostly responsive to the problems that I see, rather than proactively and intentionally crafting my business in a way that fits me. This has led me to success in terms of having more clients than I can handle, but also to somewhat of a feeling of failure for not being fully passionate about where I have ended up.

I think ultimately, being an entrepreneur is a hugely different experience for everyone. The biggest commonality we will all have is experiencing some form of failure; however, if you can learn from those experiences, then I don’t think you need to call them failures or even mistakes. Here are some of the lessons I have learned along my journey.

What have I learned (so far)?

1. Always know your numbers. Of course you’d expect an accountant to tell you this, but hey, Vischer listed this as his No. 1 lesson from his catastrophic failure. In fact, he said, "For the record, even accountants have creative ideas. There is great value — and great creativity — in a clever spreadsheet or financing scheme." Amen!

2. Figure out what you are good at. But more importantly, figure out if you are really passionate about it.

3. Stay small for as long as possible. Vischer said it perfectly: "Real impact today comes from building great relationships, not huge organizations. Smaller — and smarter — is better." I absolutely believe this to be key for the vision of my business, and I think it is wise advice for the majority of the clients I meet with as well.

4. Take care of your mental health. I have personally experienced mental struggles as well as seen what can happen when you try to take on too much. I love my people, but all of us entrepreneurs are riding a very fine line between madness and brilliance. Take time to check in with loved ones to see which side you’re on. Reach out for support — there is no shame in hitting the pause button to get out of the fog. There is also no shame in letting go of a dream.

Stephanie Majeran is the owner of WellRun Results LLC, where she empowers small businesses and nonprofits to make better and more profitable decisions through designing surveys and reports and providing financial and tax analysis. She has over 10 years of experience across a broad range of areas including income tax, data analysis, research and higher education. You can connect with Majeran via email at orLinkedIn.