You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Here's the Real Cost of Ignoring Your Problems Facing problems in your personal life is much like business.

By Jason Saltzman

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Westend61 | Getty Images

I thought I was going to die.

It came down to a phone call from my doctor. He told me the procedure I went through showed the tumors they previously found were benign. Waiting for those results was one of the most intense scares of my life. I couldn't help but think of all the other crap I had to deal with before being struck with the possibility of facing death.

All of us know that you have to be a little crazy to be an entrepreneur. You push your mind and body to the max every single day. There is a huge amount of risk and an equal amount of stress that you deal with, day in and day out. Financially, mentally, emotionally and physically -- running a business can be taxing.

Plus, my passion is for helping people -- supporting my team along with mentoring other entrepreneurs. Now, what would happen if I had to set all of this aside to deal with an illness?

Related: Success Comes to Entrepreneurs Who Stop Sabotaging Themselves With Stress

I had to take a step back, like I always do, and ask myself, "What is the lesson here?" I'm still alive, so there must be something I could take away from this experience and share with the world. And yes, this is super personal, but who cares? I was faced with the potential of being diagnosed with the most deadly disease of our generation. I saw that something was wrong with my body, and just like in business, when you think something is wrong, more than likely it is. With that said, there are a few lessons that this experience validated for me that I would like to share.

Trusting my gut became life or death.

If you read nothing past this line, you must take this in: We absolutely can live or die by our convictions. For years, my stomach did not feel OK, but everyone kept telling me, "You're fine." Each time I would visit my doctor for a checkup, he would say, "Don't worry about it." But something told me that this is urgent. That I need to fix this issue right away.

When someone has a highly regarded title or expertise in a particular industry, people will assume two things. One, that this individual has all the answers. Two, that their professional ranking trumps our own knowledge. Dealing with this health scare confirmed for me that neither of these assumptions are true. In fact, I think it's time to call bullshit.

Related: The 10 Things You Must Do From Day One So Your Startup Thrives

My professional knowledge may not be extensive in health and medicine, but it's my body, and I knew something was wrong. No one could convince me differently, not even the experts. You can respect expertise but still trust your instincts.

Similarly, if you really love your business, you have to be its greatest advocate. You have to save it like you would fight to save your body. There can be no gray area in this space. So, what happens if the so-called experts do not see or understand your vision? You get tenacious about finding your own solutions.

Going by the book does not make you a winner.

I have never been one to do well with rules. I used to be a lot more reckless and just do shit and deal with the consequences later. I've matured since then, and I make sure to measure how consequences will affect myself and my team first. However, that young man who asks for forgiveness instead of permission is still within me. When I am determined to execute on my goals, persistence is my strength and what has saved me in business and now in life.

The recommended age reserved to screen for colon cancer is 50 years old. Many years younger than what is typical, I went to my doctor one last time and told him that I need to get a medical screening done. To some within my circle, including my doctor, I appeared to be a hypochondriac that spent too many hours Googling my symptoms on the web. Despite the naysayers and recommendations, I stuck to what I felt to be right for me.

If I'm going to solve problems, I solve them all.

I know you cannot handle every single problem at once, but the big problems you have to take care of. Especially when it is something future-oriented. Just like in business, I was tenacious about solving this problem.

Some of the smartest, most knowledgeable people ignore their health because they are too afraid to find out what is going on inside of them. This is ludicrous. They choose to let fear win, allowing themselves to be validated by false positives instead of getting proactive about uncovering what is wrong.

Related: 3 Surprising Reasons Entrepreneurs Consistently Fail With Healthy Eating

I cannot afford to ignore any problems. Cancer has riddled my family. Coincidently, both my father and stepfather have been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Thankfully, I made it through this OK. Staying on top of problems has helped position me to detect hazards early. Before they become a threat to my business or my life, I am searching for options to protect what I have built. If you wait for that terminal diagnosis, for your funds to be completely drained or to let go of the employee who is not the right fit, then it's already too late. Your ability to pivot and overcome just became seriously hampered.

No one knows your body or your business like you. People told me not to worry, and if I listened, this could have developed into a horrible situation later on in life that could not be solved with just a simple surgery. Purposely staying in the dark about anything benefits no one -- not your family, not your friends, not your team and especially not you.

Recently, a friend asked how I was doing after all of this. I am happy to now say, I feel great.

Jason Saltzman

Startup Mentor, Entrepreneur, CEO of Alley

Jason Saltzman is a seasoned entrepreneur with a background in sales and marketing. Through his role as CEO of Alley and as a TechStars mentor, he advises hundreds of startups, offering real-life practical application and creative marketing advice.  

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.


I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.


94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.


6 Habits That Help Successful People Maximize Their Time

There aren't enough hours in the day, but these tips will make them feel slightly more productive.

Growing a Business

Looking to Achieve Your Goals But Don't Know Where to Start? Try These Proven Goal-Setting Strategies.

Find a more effective way of creating – and achieving – your goals. Get clear on your vision, make your plan, take action, reassess and then revise.