After founding one company on my own, and co-founding several others with teams, I've written and spoken extensively on this topic - it's an under-recognized risk and challenge of entrepreneurship. You can read one of my more popular articles at http://lp.co/perspective, but I'll summarize it here...
Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely endeavor. Even when you have others on your team, no one else is in quite the same "boat" that you are.
Looking to other entrepreneurs for support can be deceptive. Most entrepreneurs are always "on" - showing only the best side of their business - and it's easy to understand why. As an entrepreneur, you're constantly selling yourself and your company to potential customers, employees, and investors. As a result, you compare yourself with others who are only showing their best side (and only sharing the good news), while you know that your own pursuit is a daily struggle.
Raising money (if you are going that route) is an exercise in perpetual rejection. It's a real test of your self confidence to be told over and over why your idea won't work and isn't worth an investment. If you're not raising money, you may deal with this same challenge when trying to find your initial customers or employees.
I've found three primary ways to counteract these forces and stabilize my own perspective:
1. Find some peer entrepreneurs with whom you can build some truly deep and transparent relationships, where the masks come off. Share your insecurities and vulnerabilities with them, and allow them to do the same.
2. Find mentors, advisors, and coaches who have experienced the same ups-and-downs you are facing. Listen to their stories, soak up their wisdom, and most of all, realize and remind yourself that they survived it, and so can you.
3. Recalibrate your perspective by taking time off to help others who are less fortunate than you are. Volunteer with an organization that supports a cause that you care about. The side effect of focusing on others is that you will be reminded that the challenges you are facing are not the worst problems in the world.
Just embrace the idea of problems being inherent to businesses (startup of not). If you accept them and focus on solving instead of stressing then you will be fine. Paraphrasing Billy Beane in Moneyball: “everything worth doing is extremely hard”.
It helps to have a good support network. Including people who have started businesses would be great to have, if you have access to any. Friends, Your Spouse, your clergy member are also good candidates. In some ways it can be even better if they are not directly involved in your business that way they can provide some distance. The key things are first of all they need to be people you can trust, and confide in. Second they must be willing and have time to provide a Limited amount of ongoing support.
If your business has or can assemble an advisory board, they can also be helpful here. The difference is an advisory board can have a bit of a conflict of interest of sorts advising you on the business, and the emotional ups and downs you are experiencing at the same time. They also cannot provide the prospective of distance as the other people I mentioned above.
I started my first company in 1974.
My top item for mood maintenance is what I eat + drink + breath.
This way I only have ups, so no downs to manage.
If you're always tripping (feeling a high level of elation + focus), makes no difference about any downs, as you can just shrug them off + move on.
Downs/Problems arise. Trick is to... never have them "land", so like meditation. You notice some Down/Problem... let it go... get back to work...
Likely there are many people you can book calls with to talk about managing your mood, where you tend toward always being up.
Contact people who seem useful to talk with + see how they manage their moods.
Tip: Talk with people who've been in business a very long time. They know what works for them + maybe you too.
How I manage my mood.
I live primarily on Super Food brews made from ingredients I import via one of my companies.
My other food comes from 100% plant sources. It's been many decades since I ingested mystery cadaver or dairy or any other animal product.
I avoid any products with chemicals on ingredients list.
I always arrange to live where the air is clean + I can have my windows open most of the time.
Besides Super Food brews, the only other things I drink are pure water, fresh juice, coconut water, high water content fruits.
The Super Food brews I make revolve around Cacao (and other hormone/neurotransmitter precursors) + Rhodiola as a natural SSRI to continually elevate my mood.
Do things that remind you of who you are and what you enjoy outside of your business in order to help you surf the emotional ups and downs that are part of starting a business. Entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable to work-life balance issues. It may feel impossible to take time away from work: especially in the early days, but it is critical to your own well-being, your close relationships and the long-term success of your business.
Through mantaining Focus and Transcendental Meditation (www.tm.org)
How do you stay focused?
Use Bob Proctor's advice: write in a piece of paper your goal, put it in your a plastic cover like it's a card, and read it several times per day.
You have to make this statement go deep in your subsconscious mind, like it's an obsession.
So it would be more urgent and important than your emotional ups and down.
Transcendental Meditation has more than 1000 scientific studies and it's a technique with no concentration, or religion involved. You practice twice a day for 20 minutes with eyes closed in a chair, comfortably.
And it empower your brain and your frontal lobes, which are the core of your concentration
I started my first two companies when I was 19. Both companies were disruptive, so there weren't many people (friends and family included) who understood what I was doing.
1. Start with a belief in yourself and your end goals.
2. Don't substitute anyone else's discernment for your own.
3. Limit mistakes by understanding what you know and What You Don't and seek qualified advice for what you don't know. Many engineers know nothing about selling, so identify a pro and put them to work before the product is viable.
4. Strategies that defines A. who your core customers are, B. where they are, C. how to reach them and D. the best way to communicate your product's value proposition are fundamental keys to a return on your investment and significantly mitigating disappointment.
I wish you the best and hear your frustration. Understand that being concise in your product launch limits errors and that is the relief you are seeking. Cheers!
I've founded four successful businesses over the past 15 years. Here is what I have learned. The 'emotional ups and downs' are part of the process and are usually driven by doubt and uncertainty about yourself, the market, the competition. These fears are compounded by not taking the proper steps to ensure your success.
A very common mistake is not having an actual plan. At the very least, you should have a completed Lean Business Model Canvas. This is a very helpful tool, it's a business plan on one page. When done properly, it can help guide many of your decisions, and give you a clear path to success. Along with your LBMC, you should have a marketing plan. This can be as simple as attending local networking events and building word of mouth referrals, or as complex as designing an automated lead generation website.
You also need to realize that not everyone wants what you are selling. Most business owners make the mistake of assuming that 'everyone will want what I have,' and this is rarely the case. The key is figuring out who actually will buy what you are selling and focus on that audience as a first step. It's much easier to build momentum and success when focused on a niche.
Entrepreneurs also assume it will be easy to find clients and customers. It's not, it takes times to develop relationships and build trust. You have to focus on getting those first buyers, and then treating them like gold so they a) buy again and b) tell their friends.
The ups and downs come with the territory, but if you have a solid plan and realistic expectations it's much easier to focus on moving towards your goals with a solid game plan.
- Believe in yourself, commit to yourself that either you're doing it or not doing it and if doing it, then anything that comes should be considered as an experience; you shall overcome everything gradually.
- Have something as stress buster in life, relationship, workout, partying, breaks, they work wonder.
- Focus on your customers, if they are happy then you're happy, simple thumb rule.
- Don't think or worry too much, when moments come where you don't know what to do or what do at first, then do what is most easier and in your control.
- Most of the problems that we think of are usually no problems at all, they get disappeared the moment we stop thinking about them, if some don't then they are the real ones needing your attention.
- Do have friends, never be hard on yourself, learn to forgive yourself, understand and really believe that you are doing something good; accept your weakness and appreciate your strength but don't be either too demotivated or even narcissist, find a sweet spot (I'm still trying though) and that's it.
- Be ready to "say" things directly to clients or employees or partners when something is brutally tangled, most of the times people support, if they don't then you know how to deal with them (lol).
- Sales has answer to 150 % of your problems, so do it yourself/ head it yourself. An entrepreneur is the biggest and most committed sales guy you can ever recruit and incentivize so invest in yourself and your sales.
I've had my ups and downs in last 9 years with Agicent App Company (https://www.agicent.com) and many times it felt like I was going no where, but then I restored to doing the minimum thing I could do and somehow it worked so far. I don't follow all what I "preached" but I believe if we do a part of these points at times of trouble (you don't ask the question you did in good times!), they really help.
Lots of strength and peace!
I know a lot about emotions and how to work with them because of my degree in psychology and experience with helping others in business and in other life situations.
Emotions are natural part of life. Positive emotions like excitement can motivate us to continue working on our business. However emotions make for a better decision-making guide in personal and family life, and not so much in business. If you encounter the negative emotions like fear or anxiety you should focus your mind on the rational aspect of your situation. Look at your business plan, talk with accountant.
Negative emotions can often provide valuable information from the subconscious intuitive part of our mind. Sometimes we are uncertain about something and this makes us fearful. Making an effort to get more information can give us peace of mind. This could be for example information about competitors, customers or new marketing plan.
Ask yourself what kind of emotions do you feel and what kind of events are provoking them directly. This is the key to answer how to deal with them. The answer can help you review your business plan and startup idea to make positive changes.
Sometimes it’s difficult to think rationally when we are experiencing strong emotions. You can always call me to talk about this.
From personal experience, meditating for 15 minutes a day is by far the most effective way to get off the emotional rollercoaster and onto a steady ship where you're the captain. Seems too good and too free to be true, I know.