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How High is Your Entrepreneurial Pain Tolerance? Getting through the often arduous startup period can be difficult for any entrepreneur — let alone someone who's starting up for the first time. Here's how to get equipped for the long haul.

By Chris J. Snook

Like professional athletes, entrepreneurs must train and prepare themselves mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet unlike athletes, entrepreneurs don't get to relax during the off season. They have to be on every day. That pressure to perform is even higher for young entrepreneurs who are constantly forced to prove themselves before customers, investors and employees.

Here's how to build up that much-needed endurance and tolerance to help you win, in spite of the setbacks and your never-ending schedule.


  1. Financial Pain.
    Tolerance is often built by learning to produce results with no cash reserves or sporadic and unpredictable cash flows. To get through this process with only a minimal amount of pain, program in small, achievable milestones whenever possible -- noting the costs and your expected return on investment next to each milestone. This process will help you track your revenues and expenses and help you figure how much to reinvest organically into your business. It'll also give you a chance to stay cash-flow positive while you build toward the ultimate vision.

  2. Partner Pain.
    Tolerance comes from working through lawsuits, disputes, betrayals and unintended-yet-catastrophic missed communications or a lack of alignment. The best ways to build endurance for partnerships and deals is to become a master communicator and listener. This is easier said than done, but it'll help to bone up on personal-development books and programs, as well as spend ample time networking. Whether it's with the barista at the local coffee shop or the bank tellers at your branch get into the habit of building relationships every chance you get.Working on your most basic interpersonal skills should, ultimately, teach you how to read people's non-verbal communications, as well as cultivate intuition about who to partner with. It'll also help you recognize when a partnership is heading south.

  3. Personal Pain.
    Tolerance also stems from going through hard times. True champions find a way to contribute from the sideline during those times. They make plans and take action to restore themselves to a competitive capacity again. Being able to honestly assess your contribution and ask for help is a fine line that will be adjusted over time, but you typically learn the balance by failing to achieve it in multiple prior efforts.But you might also be more helpful to your business if you take the time you need to work through your personal or physical setbacks. After all, the goal is to once again be a productive member of your team as quickly as possible.


Changing your world, or the world at large, is no small undertaking. Anyone can get a job and earn a check every Friday. But an entrepreneur can create value for customers, innovate, create jobs, make a dent in society, give back from abundance and truly live a life of continuous excitement and discovery. Some things, in the end, are the worth the pain.

Chris J.Snook is an author, entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He has spent the last five years in the investment community incubating media startups as the Managing Partner of TLEC Ventures. He co-authored the international best-selling books,WealthMatters 2007 and 2011(2nd Edition) and Burnout: How to Transform Frustration to Fortune in 2005.

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