The Bumpy Start-up Ride
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Being in vogue, start-ups are all about the thrill, hope, and excitement. On a less exciting note however, studies suggest over 49% of start-up Entrepreneurs to be having an emotional health concern and 27% to be undergoing anxiety problems, with depression being the number one reported condition.
Every entrepreneur is faced with the difficult task of challenging status quo, making people believe in a vision that may seem far fetched, as well as setting out to achieve it with limited, if any, resources.
In the process of establishing themselves, entrepreneurs undergo tremendous amounts of stress and anxiety that may vary from time to time. Let’s take a look at the triggers.
Most start-ups face financial crunch since the infancy stages of a venture do not have cash flows and burn is needed to keep going. An entrepreneur has to run the venture and secure funding for it simultaneously. In a vast majority of cases, neither of these can be delegated to a team member and hence it gets extremely challenging and stressful to balance the two and keep going. More often than not, this goes on to becoming one of the most major causes of stress among entrepreneurs.
Not So Rosy Realities
With the growing popularity and success of start-ups, one may jump into it with the hope of it becoming the next big thing. There’s so much written about huge fundraises and valuations on a regular basis, but not as much written about behind-the-scenes struggles and we rarely get to hear about thousands of startups that don’t make it beyond the few initial stages. When reality meets aspiration, it does shake confidence of an entrepreneur and the fear of failure grips him/her.
Struggling with Human Capital
A line from the books of business management so reads: ‘it is all about finding the right person with the right skill sets for the right job at the right time’. Way easier said than done, this is one of the leading causes of stress among start-ups as they lack the financial muscle or repute of an established organization. The risk associated with a startup makes it even more difficult for the entrepreneur to hire talent.
When Your Competitor Gets Funded
You’ve been burning the midnight oil and trying to make end meets when you discover that a competitor way inferior (or so you think) announces a big funding round. Not only were you worried about sustaining operations, now you’ve got someone with deeper pockets competing in the same space. A solid reason to worry. Brighter side is, if your space is heating up, just like startups, investors will be competing to get a pie of it, so a competitor getting funded can actually get your industry and you the attention you weren’t getting before.
Most start-ups fail to add much structure to their operating hours in a bid to create a space for themselves in the market amidst competition with limited resources. As a result, the entrepreneur and team works around the clock. Life becomes work and work becomes life, balance is out of the window. With little time for self, loved ones there’s little or no rejuvenation and the entrepreneur may start feeling burnt out which spins a host of other feelings, emotions and unhealthy personal and professional outcomes.
Trial and Error
In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) business environment, a seemingly great idea is not all that great when it comes to executional challenges, which is when many start-ups turn to the trial-and-error method. You’d rarely hear an entrepreneurial journey where the business idea didn’t evolve/change several times before the venture started seeing signs of success. Its great learning and at times very exciting too, but if it happens too frequently too soon, you may run out of capital experimenting.
Series of humdrum days and phases of low with little to zero growth are common factors of stress that can sometimes make entrepreneurs question the viability of their idea, and even lead them to self-doubt, which is negatively overwhelming in nature. There are nights when an entrepreneur goes home wondering if it was all worth it. Such phases are very very common and one needs to know that. You just don’t have an option but to keep believing. Even the most successful businesses, celebrities, sportspersons, have those days when they face an unexpected blow or a series of poor performance, but that’s just how it is. You’ve got to keep moving.
0 to 40,000 Feet & Back
The frequent switching between euphoria of being the next being thing to the fear of being doomed takes a big toll on the emotional well being of an entrepreneur. It’s almost impossible to function and adapt to two opposite ends of the spectrum of entrepreneurship. There’s so much uncertainty that it’s almost impossible to know how to feel.
Considering how stressors are unavoidable and there’s no dearth of situations Startup Entrepreneurs have to deal with, it’s imperative for the Entrepreneur to know how to manage stress and cope effectively. Where there is work, there is stress. To begin with, it is important that we not only accept this truth of life, but also take certain measures to keep it to a minimum. Stress can’t be fixed by acknowledging it alone, but it can definitely be dealt with more effectively if we took it upon ourselves to do something about it.