In the startup world, founders have mountains of resources about how to grow and manage businesses at their disposal. But one topic that’s not frequently discussed is the emotional support they often need when they first transition into the entrepreneur-life.
Understanding and putting effort into bettering your emotional state is not only crucial for personal and interpersonal development, it’s also a determinant of your ability to take on everything your business asks of you. Today, we're covering some common emotional challenges entrepreneurs face, and how to alleviate the stress that comes along with it.
Starting a business can feel like being in middle school all over again. No one’s going to poke fun at you and your crush, but your days are filled with abnormally dramatic highs and lows. One day you hit a milestone and you’re met with crushing obstacles the next. Even though this is an inevitable aspect of entrepreneurialism that does get better with time, experiencing constant emotional flux is a strain on your mental and physical state (e.g. loss of sleep, irritability, exhaustion). Explore different activities that help you set your emotional state back to neutral, and use them regularly to stay upbeat. Psychology Today notes the following as some ways to balance your emotions:
One of the most common emotional challenges entrepreneurs face is the infamous existential crisis. After the initial elation of finally taking the plunge, many entrepreneurs find it difficult to define themselves. In other words, they're stuck in the grey area between the honeymoon phase and before their business actually begins to take off. Defining oneself is easy when you’re fulfilling the responsibilities that are demanded of you in a traditional role. You understand what your bread and butter is, and work hard in that role. But when you’re an entrepreneur, your job is less defined, as is your financial situation, which can damage self-assurance. Accepting your new identity as an entrepreneur, and empowering yourself in this position important. Becoming more involved in the startup community, and surrounding yourself by like-minded individuals who can relate to you is a good way to ground your new identity.
Psychiatrist Michael A. Freeman has noted a link between people who exhibit entrepreneurial traits (i.e. creative, motivated, energetic, etc.) to be more emotionally volatile. Of course this is not to say that entrepreneurs cry at the drop of a pin, but it points to the need to regularly take a step back and evaluate the level of stress you’re experiencing. In a journal, keep track of situations that are especially stressful for you (e.g. dealing with investors, communicating with difficult vendors, weekend work calls), so you can establish a better system to deal with, or attitude about, the issue. For instance, if speaking with investors is especially difficult for you, try finding a mentor who’s been there and done that to share their wisdom. Also, knowing when to ask for help is a lifesaver because you're only one person, and taking on more than you can handle isn't doing anyone any favours, especially when it comes to your business.
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Author: Ching Lam Ip, Programme & Marketing Lead, Garage Society
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