FEAR OF FAILURE AND FAST BURNOUT — HOW TO NAVIGATE THE DARK SIDE OF STARTUPS
New startups are lonely places, even with co-founders. From the conception of your idea through much of the journey you are mostly on your own, especially in the challenges and defeats.
Only 0.96% startups get funding from angel investors and VCs. For the rest, confidence is currency and admitting uncertainty or fear quickly drains the bank.
Launching a startup, often chucking a cushy job is an emotional decision. Self-doubts and anxiety come free with the ride. Feeling overcommitted and over-invested on metrics of time, energy and finances is real.
You could be a skilled multitasker, but as an entrepreneur this is just one of the many core skills required for survival.
You could’ve demonstrated real leadership skills in the job you just left, but at your startup your decisions have financial as well as emotional costs. A series of wrong or hazy decisions could bust your dream before it get off.
At some point of time, the initial high wears off. The waves of sunny optimism crash. The loud cheering of family and friends from the sidelines dies down. You look down and you see plenty of “unexpecteds” — the cells and sinews of startups.
Entrepreneurship Wrenches You Out of Your Comfort Zone
At this point you know enough to know how much you don’t know about what you got to do.
Depression sets in fast. There’s this feeling of not belonging anywhere. You could feel ripped out from the comfort zone of your corporate job to the mean streets of hustling.
Recent tweets by Elon Musk highlight this fear and failure narrative, although as a carefully contained arc.
Hello Ambiguity! My New Friend
For most startups in their early days, it’s difficult to quantify performance. There are no established variables and few recognizable milestones, to assess if it’s time to pop the champagne yet. Finances are unpredictable, scattered and thinly spread. Teams are not cohesive, workflow is not structured, organizational structures are not defined. It’s every color of chaotic. Welcome to entrepreneurship!
You put your hands up and yell “Yay!” over a small victory and get hit by a curveball — an investor delayed funding, client dropped out of contract, someone quit, supplier didn’t deliver, project fell through.. FML is a way of life.
If you are in the early phase of your startup, it will be puzzling to quantify revenues. The outflows are more than inflows and it is trying to keep track of what money is coming in, how much is going out, how much is being pumped back into the business and how much is left on the table.
Stay Peaceful in Chaos
Quantifying your progress on metrics of new business acquisition, recognition of your product or service in your target consumer segment and bringing together of smart, loyal teams in your organization is a smart idea.
To deal with over commitment and to avoid getting overwhelmed, break whole projects down into target-bound chunks and crush one goal at a time. High-performing, loyal teams are your real currency.
Self doubt, performance anxiety, frustration, hitting dead ends, fatigue and burnout comes free with the starting up pack. Deal with it intelligently. Don’t get disheartened by it.
Taste the Amaze High of “Baby, We Did It!”
After the initial hassles, when your startup has turned into a legit business enterprise, you will be amazed at how far you have come and how much you have personally grown while making your venture grow. You will be legit proud of your life choices and all your personal victories.
The change you were able to bring in your enterprise space, the happy clients, the brilliant, dependable team behind you, will be the coveted prize for the blood, sweat, toil and sleepless nights you put in, in your startup.
Sit back and savor this feeling.
Startup blues are a reality. Develop resilience. Stay committed to your vision. Make vivid future boards with colorful imagery and symbols. Involve your team. Bring it to life for them by asking them to show in pictures where they see themselves with your organization in a year, two year, three years. This can also give you a peek into the future aspirations of your employees. Position it at a high visibility point in your office. In times of absolute lows, this redefines the relevance of everyone’s role in a chaotic environment and refreshes the vision they signed up for.
Keep the Bigger Picture in View
Taking on a Unagi attitude is your mojo for surviving startup blues. Whenever you feel you’re touching rock bottom, drive, ride, walk out into the open, into the clear night skies, put your head up, better still, lay down on the ground, and look up at the stars. Stare at them. Feel one with the cosmos. Recall your reasons for breaking out on your own. Conjure up a picture of your dream. It still calls out your name? You good. Stick to your dream. Yes, this technique works every time!
Stick to your Support Squad
Having a supportive inner circle of family and friends to fall back on is essential. Reach out to other entrepreneurs. They have experienced similar challenges and dealt with similar emotions. Investing in relationships at every level is a paying strategy.
As Richard Branson, the golden boy of entrepreneurship says, “Launching a startup is tough and scary.. build your network, a network of peers. When you see other people achieving similar goals, you will be reminded that your own plans and dreams are possible. In my experience, moments like those have been the tipping point for many a new business venture. So don’t be wary of making friends with your competition.”
Get Your Dream Team!
You contrived a vision. Sustaining a startup is all about actualizing that vision.
Earlier, new startups rapidly got an edge over other companies on strength of their superior technology. Today, what sets apart a great company from an average company is its people. A passionate and efficient team can accelerate your startup in ways no marketing and advertising can.
Finding great talent requires skills and efficiency which new startups are mostly short on due to non-existent HR departments and crunched finances. Biodatworld.com is a fresh as a morning hiring concept which helps you find great teams for every job role in your startup within 24 hours. Let them source talent for you while you work on what really matters — retaining that talent. In a cash-strapped and talent-centric world of startups, make your team your real MVP!
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