The story of a failed entrepreneur and his Tryst with Depression

“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.”

― Steve Goodier

I have been wanting to write this for a while, this is personal. Some of you will be able to relate with this and some will label me as a loser. Either ways I shall be happy and grateful, I will succeed if I get your attention on this issue that I have seen many aspiring entrepreneurs are going through in their professional journey.

START EARLY -

I see this a lot, everyone is turning an entrepreneur because his/her friend is one and has done good for himself/herself in life. I also see lot of us wanting to become entrepreneur because that’s what is COOL in this decade. The entrepreneurs are born and not created. Entrepreneurs are rise takers and entrepreneurs typically (in majority of the cases) start their journey very early.

Sunil Bharti Mittal started his first business when he was just 18 and there are numerous examples of people excelling when they start early. Late movers like the one I was who was grappling with mid-career crisis deciding to turn into an entrepreneur was a bad idea to start with. I had tasted the success that professional life gave me and thus turning into an entrepreneur when everyone was expecting you to be sales man, delivery man, servicing guy, editorial person, peon and ceo at the same time is a tough role to fulfil.

I decided to do something at the age of 35 years, after 15 years of working in a professional life, when you are on cocaine of getting monies in bank every month and have slogged all your life to reach a certain level of life comforts, its tough to restart from there. The family doesn’t understand, the kids don’t and more importantly your mind yourself doesn’t understand the sudden change.

EVERYONE ISNT ENTREPRENEUR — DON’T FORCE YOURSELF

The runway that you have for yourself is very important before you decide to take a plunge into entrepreneurship, the biggest mistake I did and now in retrospect when I look back, I can only blame and abuse myself. I quit because I wanted “to do” something on my own. However had not thought about what I wanted to, had nothing in place and therefore took almost 6–8 months to figure out what I wanted to do and by then… the run way was getting over. The biggest lesson in this is, take a plunge when you are sure of what you want to do.

THE FAILURE

I was a good worker, had achieved the best of what I could have when I was working for someone, working for myself and the team I hired was another game altogether. You were expected to lead and everyone looked at you whereas in a job there was a senior team who were all in it together. I just couldn’t handle the pressure of doing everything by myself and also couldn’t stop worrying about how will the next month look like specially when there is no money. Needless to say I failed, not from the perspective of what we wanted to do, but I failed myself. I didn’t had the courage to stand and fight out. I just threw in the towel partially also because I knew the Job will always be there. And that’s what was the real test of my life.

THE DEPRESSION

Depression in almost all the cases is self inflicted I believe. This was perhaps the most toughest time in my life, the problem wasn’t that people weren’t understanding me, the larger problem was I wasn’t understanding myself. I didn’t knew what I wanted from life. I consulted friends, family and almost everyone who could possibly suggest me about my life and that’s where I messed up. I should have only listened to myself. ONLY TO MYSELF. The answer was somewhere within me and not in the outer space.

I was worrying about smaller things like:-

  • Have I ran away from entrepreneurship too early, should I have fought — My mentor whom I don’t want to name here gave me a classic example — he told me point blank “I should only be worried about my family`s happiness and my child`s reasonable demands, If the venture I was trying to do couldn’t fulfil those, I should take up the job and bring peace in that part of my life”. The rest will get taken care off.
  • What will my extended family members say about my failure — Again my mentor said “How many of them came to you with real help? They are at best the fence sitters and can enjoy our success and perhaps empathise with failure but the responsibility of your family lies with you. This made my life little better
  • How will the office staff treat me — I was the one who always spoke about bigger things in life and what I was dreaming to do. Will they look down upon me. Some of them perhaps did, I restricted myself and I wasn’t socialising the way I was before I had quit and started the venture. But slowly I had to accept the fact that while it is important to have coworkers in your life, what only matters is how happy is your family. That perhaps made me little better.

I am not saying it was easy to get out of depression, however despite the emotional turmoil you are in, there is a path that leads to practical way of life and that path must be chosen at the right time. I have started living by the principle “FAMILY COMES FIRST” ever since.

However there were also good things that were happening while I along with the team was slogging and I just want to list them down for all of you:-

  • Despite I knew we as a team were failing, the entire team kept doing what we wanted to do. We were out there meeting people, making pitches and doing whatever we could have to keep the brand alive, because I am sure of that I will come back stronger and perhaps be more prepared
  • There was complete family support — I think this is the most important aspect, keep speaking with your family members and discuss. They will understand you and will genuinely try to help.
  • The co-founders didn’t fought, yes there were these little stressed out fights but we were all together. Despite the failure, we all understood each other and were open minded whenever we discussed the issues at hand.

The other thing this phase taught me was that there are young entrepreneurs who are fighting out on daily basis who have no support or have no mentors to guide them and help them in this facet of life, if you find anyone who needs to speak or needs guidance and mentoring, they can reach me on Rohit.sardana@gmail.com or Twitter — @rsardana and I will try my best to help them in most befitting manner.