You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Re-Integrating Founders: Becoming Normal Again What to do after you founded your company. It can be tricky to find some kind of normalcy.

By Mark Peter Davis

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shutterstock

When you first start a company you have to work hard. It's a rather all-consuming grind. There's no way around it.

In the early days the founders do everything in the business, ranging from menial administration to the highest-level strategic decision-making.

As the company scales the team expands and other folks absorb many of those roles and specialize in doing them well. The net result is founders handoff most of their day-to-day tasks. While that sounds great, it's a strange feeling. Additional effort by the founder no longer correlates with greater success.

While initially founders are required to work both hard and smart, over time, they have responsibility for fewer projects. Working hard is no longer smart.

While that sounds ideal, it's a very challenging for many founders. I know from personal experience.

Related: Why You Should Never Start Just One Business

I personally toiled through a series of startups over the course of more than a decade before getting traction. It was a hard time, but I grew accustomed to the challenge. It became a way of life. I became the grind. Leaving the office late and working on the weekends became mainstays.

While my peers were building relationships, frolicking around the world or developing affinity for sports teams, I was building. Brick-by-brick.

I suppose the longer you're in the foxhole, the more accustomed to it you become. I assume founders who landed on success quickly may not have acclimated to the fight as much as I did. And I suppose the more acclimated you become the more change hurts.

As the heavy lifting on the front lines is increasingly taken over by strong hands founders are often left ill-prepared for the transition back to "civilian" life. I really struggled with this. Without well-developed hobbies and social groups we don't know what to do with ourselves. And, worse yet, to those who have been in battle for too long, civilian life can seem less meaningful than the act of hard-fought progress.

Personally, I don't think I've been able to fully become a "civilian" yet. I struggled to find hobbies that maintain my attention. So, I cheated. As the founder of a foundry (a company that starts companies) my partners and I went on to fill my excess with dozens of new companies. I still don't have a real hobby. The only thing I fill my time with is family, friends and startups (and I try to work with most of my friends).

Related: The 4 Roles Every Founding Team Should Have

For founders who are sitting at the helm of their companies there may not be such an easy way to cheat. Their organizations depend on their day-to-day involvement in a way that prevents them from lighting up more companies. They can't get back to the grind -- the system won't let them. Free time can only be filled with hobbies, social activities and the like.

I've watched a few founders successfully make the transition. The key: they picked a horse and jumped on. They picked up tennis, new social groups, fantasy football and other activities. They just dove in. Better late than never.

Related: Moving Forward After a Co-Founder Dies

I'm sure there's a psychologist out there who could easily diagnose many founders with some form of disorder. Maybe we were obsessed before we started our first company and the act of building brought it out of us. Or, the isolation and intensity of being a founder changes us. But, either way for many once they've become a founder there's no easy way back to being "normal." But then again, who wants to be normal?

Mark Peter Davis

Venture Capitalist + Incubator

Mark Peter Davis is a venture capitalist, serial entrepreneur, author and community organizer. He is the founder of Interplay Ventures, an investment and incubation firm based in New York City. Davis is also the author of The Fundraising Rules, a handbook designed to help entrepreneurs raise capital, and the founder of both the Columbia Venture Community and the New York Venture Community. You can follow his blog at mpd.me.

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

Editor's Pick

Business News

James Clear Explains Why the 'Two Minute Rule' Is the Key to Long-Term Habit Building

The hardest step is usually the first one, he says. So make it short.

Business Solutions

Set Your Team up for Success and Let Them Browse the Internet Faster

With ad blocking, Control D is $35 through April 21.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business Solutions

Grab Microsoft Project Professional 2021 for $20 During This Flash Sale

This small investment is well worth the time it will save your team in organizing and monitoring project work.

Business News

Microsoft's New AI Can Make Photographs Sing and Talk — and It Already Has the Mona Lisa Lip-Syncing

The VASA-1 AI model was not trained on the Mona Lisa but could animate it anyway.