How Young Entrepreneurs Stare Down Personal Crisis
When starting up Gamblino in June, 27-year-old Frank Wilson had a long list of things to do. Getting hit by a car wasn't one of them.
A week after filing the articles of incorporation for the New York City based virtual-betting app maker, Wilson was struck by a car while leading a charity bike ride. He broke his leg in multiple places, shattered his ankle, bruised some ribs and it put him out of commission indefinitely. That presented serious problems for the fledgling company.
"The hardest thing has been traveling around our launch cities for our sales efforts," says Wilson. "Getting through airports isn't exactly fun and the titanium in my leg sets off the detectors every time."
Between coping with car accidents and health troubles -- and even damages caused by natural disasters like the hurricane that just clobbered the East Coast -- the road to entrepreneurship is riddled with personal adversity. Of course, having to overcome such obstacles is fact of life for many, it can be downright hobbling for young entrepreneurs.
Not only might they not have health insurance, they could be majorly in debt and need to keep their fledgling venture going and growing to meet their payment obligations. Plus, without the right mentality, it's easy to become despondent -- not to mention, lose focus on your startup or even give up on your dream of entrepreneurship entirely.
To figure out how to avoid this fate, we asked three young entrepreneurs who've been struck by personal tragedies to kindly share how they coped -- and even thrived -- due to the experience.
1. Look to your network for support.
Networking isn't just a way to cultivate professional contacts. The people you know and work with can provide the support you need when a crisis strikes.
After recently quitting her day job, Vannessa Wade was all set to relaunch Connect The Dots PR, the Houston-based PR firm that she initially launched in 2006, when she found out she had sickle-cell anemia. The crisis came out of nowhere, says the 31-year-old. But she powered through and continued with the relaunch -- thanks in large part to asking her network for support.
"I talked about my journey, and, in return, I heard stories about how rare and beautiful things came out of ugly situations," says Wade of her experience networking. That was uplifting, she says, adding: "When you learn about other people overcoming things, it can help you stay on the path to following your dreams."
2. Set big goals, but focus on baby steps.
After he was hit by the car, Wilson from Gamblino says he drew strength from aggressive short and long-term goal-setting.
"I decided on my physical recovery goal early on: To beat my last triathlon time by fall 2013," says Wilson. "In the meantime, I've focused on short-term goals, such as making it up and down the stairs to my fourth-floor walkup apartment on my own."
That strategy also helped propel Wilson's business. "It has allowed us to break down and accomplish the wide-ranging tasks required to take Gamblino from an idea to a finished product in a matter of months."
3. Don't be afraid to pivot.
Micah Daigle, 28, knows the power of resiliency. He's been suffering from an increasingly progressive digestive condition for more than a decade.
"It took me awhile to realize just how debilitating [the condition] had become," says the San Francisco resident who had started several businesses that ultimately failed, before admitting he needed to focus on his wellbeing. "It's impossible to build a healthy business if you yourself aren't healthy," he adds.
Daigle is now setting his sights on consulting projects in the crowdfunding space through his latest venture, the Collective Agency. The decision to give up being a full-time founder was difficult, but necessary, he says.
"The hardest decision was to take an indefinite break" from running a company full time, Daigle says. "It felt like giving up." But, he adds, "I knew it was the right thing to do if I was ever going to get to a place where I'd have the health to sustain projects."
Have you needed to overcome a personal crisis on the road to starting up?Let us know how you did it in the comments section.