You Need to Roll Up Your Sleeves & Do The Work

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When you’re starting and growing a business, sometimes you’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and hustle. There’s work to be done and that’s that. 

According to Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

This is not about work without limits. It’s not about pushing through exhaustion. This is for those moments when you might be telling yourself a story about the kind of work you want to do – and the kind you don’t. 

At the beginning of your journey, it’s easy to psych yourself up about how awesome you want the experience to be. The truth is that not every day will look like a daring or glamorous adventure. 

Some days might be energizing, some days might be frustrating, but many days might just be. 

Look, the sun comes up over the horizon every day, but it’s not always a picturesque and breathtaking sunrise. Sometimes the sun just comes up and the day goes on. 

The movies cut the hero’s journey down to 90-120 minutes. That’s not enough time to watch the young entrepreneur do the unsexy things – filing taxes, making phone calls, editing ad copy, or sending email. 

The list of tasks you have to just “get through” might look different for each of us. But, the point remains, sometimes you just have to suck it up, roll up your sleeves, and work. 


Make a quick list of everything you have to do in order to run your business. 

Now, divide that list into two columns – things that increase your energy and things that drain your energy. 

You’d probably like to be in a position where you can delegate or eliminate some of your energy draining tasks, so that you can focus on the stuff you really enjoy.

You might not be there yet – you’re not alone. You will close that gap, eventually. But, right now, you’ve still got to do the work. 

I once had a conversation with the owner of my favorite donut shop in Minneapolis. He shared that every day spans a variety of tasks. 

Sometimes you’re taste testing a new donut creation with the head chef, sometimes you’re filling in for an employee who called in sick, sometimes you’re taking out the trash, sometimes you’re serving customers at the counter, and more. 

Did he get in the donut business to take out the trash? Of course not. But, it has to get done. As the leader of a young business, sometimes it falls to you. 

321 Liftoff | Small Business Coach | You Need to Roll Up Your Sleeves & Do The Work


The problem isn’t the task itself. The problem is the story we tell ourselves about the task at hand. 

Maya Angelou said, “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

So, can the task be eliminated? Delegated? Reimagined? Reprioritized? 

321 Liftoff | Small Business Coach | You Need to Roll Up Your Sleeves & Do The Work

If not, you have an opportunity to change how you think about the task. 

Try adjusting your language. Instead of “I have to do this,” try “I get to do this.” 

“Have to” is a burden, “get to” is an opportunity.

“Have to” is a chore, “get to” is a choice.

And, “have to” is an annoyance, “get to” is a privilege.

If nothing else, take a moment to remember what it’s all in service to – building a business that helps you design your life. Don’t judge the task. Honor that larger goal.

These little changes might help you, but, yes, sometimes you just get to suck it up, roll up your sleeves, and work.


Starting and growing a business is not a straight line.

It can feel messy – it zigs and zags, it starts and stops. It can feel frustrating even for the most seasoned business owners. And, that’s ok.

It’s also an exciting challenge. It’s going to stretch you. You’re going to learn a lot – not just about business, but about yourself.

And, that’s why it’s worth it.

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