eDot has met an awful lot of you wonderful creatures. To me the spirit that you encapsulate through your entrepreneurship and your craft of innovation is so incredibly exciting. The two traits that founders seem to have is they are all a little eccentric (which seems to be a prerequisite for becoming a founder) and of course you don’t sleep or eat.
I have written about the thousand mile stare that all founders get. Especially after going full time. From my experience it seems that month 4–6, are emotionally, the most difficult. Startup and the world of startup is incredibly intense. You are pouring yourself into a one massive, complex, project. Yet, you still have to go out into the world to promote, pitch and network. The founders that I work with have on many occasions put their business first, without any exception. In fact, I can say this is true of all eDot’s investees. Whilst this might be inspiring and admirable: founders, please, I implore you look after yourself first.
It is tempting to pour each and every waking hour into your business. The reality is that your business could literally occupy every single hour, of every single day. Burn outs happen all the time. Even mini ones, colds, coughs, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Stop. Breath.
It is your vision that has endeared the investors initially. As a founder, before MVP, you fundamentally are, in many ways the product, you the picture painter, the music making and the business shaker. This kind of statement often can evoke a response of: well then, I need to do more, I need to succeed, I can’t take a break. STOP. You need to put your health and well being first. You need to stop, you need to look after yourself. All the founders that I have met have all spoken about lack of food/sleep and time with their families. This stress that is placed onto you when you are starting a business can and will burn you out.
This isn’t an easy task. I am not suggesting that being a founder and taking time for yourself always possible. In reality, it simply isn’t. One of my housemates is a founder, sleep and food often allude him. I have tried to leave out meals for him and encouraged him to sleep. I know first hand how difficult this is, I cannot lead a founder to a plate and make him eat, so how can I encourage other founders to take physically and mental care of themselves? Sometimes the deadlines and the client obligations are too high. You can’t afford another team member and you are your business. Cut the cord.
If you cannot even fathom the notion of thinking of taking personal time from your business or if you can’t justify taking care of yourself, I’ll talk to you from a cold hard VC point of view: you are the an important (if not the most important) asset to your business. If you are not taking care of a vital asset in the business then then you your business will crumble. You wouldn’t drive a car 40,000 kilometres without servicing it: and if you did, you might be in for some nasty surprises.
Your health is vital to the business, your health should out prioritise anything in the business. You need balance and time to yourself.
I received many emails from founders in the small hours of the morning. I have seen the tiredness in the eyes of founders.
So to all my founder friends, and those who are working tirelessly in startup, I implore you to take heed and rest. I could put a list of “hacks” speaking about how to rest. I am not going to. You know what you need to do. At eDot the founder is as important as your business, we need you in tip top shape.
So please, after this 5 minute read… take another fifteen, go smell the coffee, feel the heat of a lovely cup of tea or taste the fresh air. Don’t feel guilty about it, if you do, see it as an intricate part of helping your startup succeed.