Entrepreneurship · Entrepreneur

How do you deal with stress as an entrepreneur?

ivan ner HR Manager at VR

September 19th, 2016

The journey of building a company is not easy and there are times where the stress levels are out of control.
For example, running out of money or dealing with other fires.
How do you deal with stressful situations to keep yourself together in order to continue pushing?

Scott McGregor Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.

September 20th, 2016

My strategy for dealing with stress is called "reframing" in Cognitive Behavioarl Therapy.  More specifically when I find myself saying "OMG,  I don't know how I will deal with X! How will I ever survive?"  I  replace fear of the unknown with curiousity.  The words are the same, but the emphasis is different and the question is no long rhetorical, but becomes real.

For instance, I've been at the startup game for more than 25 years.   It's a tough game, and like most people who stick with it that long, I've run out of money personally and several of the companies I have founded or worked for have also run out of money at times.   Some of the companies didn't make it, but I'm still alive, and so are the people who worked for me. And I still starting and growing companies.   So obviously running out of money is not fatal.    

Running out of money is uncomfortable and I have had to deal with it in different ways at different times.  It's not something you wish for, but life is full of ups and downs, and it is just one of the downs.  The only way to avoid all the downs of life is to not play at all - which is an alternative that doesn't interest me.

So now if I don't know where next month's payroll is coming from I don't freak out,  I get curious -- will I run out this time?  Or will something amazing happen to make things work out before then?  If I do run out, what will happen this time?  

David Austin Relentless problem solver and innovator.

September 20th, 2016

Honestly it helps to hit rock bottom and realize you're just fine.  Scott's advice is good ... cognitive therapy works.  You'll learn that what you're prone to think is going on when feeling anxious is usually some pattern of distorted thinking.  It is for most people.  Identify those distortions (examples: my startup's a dud, this one customer is my make or break, my investors won't understand so I should fix this in private) and talk back to them with clarity ( my vision of __ is good and worthwhile and implementing it is a process, I can expand my parameters, my investors want me and will help me succeed).

Your saving grace will be how you perceive what's going on in a more accurate and healthy way, and what can be done, and what contingencies are possible and which are likely and how they can be improved upon.  Above all, keep everyone who needs to be in the loop in the loop.  Bad news is a necessary step in discovery ... take it as such.  If there are some around you who can't deal with the realities of startup life then help them get over that because their anxieties will rub off. 

The most damaging part of stress I believe occurs at night when you wake up at 2:00am with adrenaline coursing through your veins so that you can't sleep at a time when you most need it.   It happens to all of us and can diminish your performance.  Maintaining as much of a routine as possible helps, especially food and exercise.  Organize, and break things into bite-size pieces, don't put off the inevitable, know the difference between important and not-important, be courageous to say no to favors others will ask when you don't have bandwidth or when you don't see the value.

Along those lines, be single minded ...get all the important things in your life oriented so they're pointing you to success in your one endeavor.  Everyone should know what you're doing and doing what they can to help (or at least not hinder) that objective.

ivan ner HR Manager at VR

September 20th, 2016

thanks all

Barry Murphy CEO at Hogo Global Ltd.

September 20th, 2016

You have to drop the fear of going bust,in my opinion.As long as you give it your very best shot at surviving,nobody can ask for more,not investors,staff or anyone else.
Make sure that you take the time to work and write down what is the worst possible outcome,and how you will deal with that eventuality.That exercise will free your head space and allow you to get on with the job in hand.
If you succeed,people will tell you how great you are,but you know that it's not true,and if you fail,some people might look down on you.The message is to not care what others think of you,and just be happy with who you are and your efforts,regardless of whether you win or loose.
Like Scott above,I have failed a few times and succeeded in the end.The people who looked down on me when I failed,were the same people who thought I was fantastic,when I succeeded,and I know that they were and are wrong,in both instances.
Be confident in your own abbilities,and if you fall off the horse,take time to breath,and get back up again and again.

Mark Shaw CEO at NEOS HR

September 20th, 2016

Ivan. as well as the other comments, just ermember creditors want their money - even if it late.  If you get caught out with cash flow, DON'T PANIC.  Speak to your creditors adn arrange a repayment plan.  My experience is they will be OK as long as you keep them in the loop.  Don't give up - go for it!

Shel Horowitz I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing

September 20th, 2016

Beyond worrying about cash flow, keep healthy and remember that you own the business, not the other way around. No matter how intense the demands, make time for yourself. Take a "shabbat"--a day each week where you don't work on the business. Take vacations. Get exercise every day. Eat well. Continue to find time to do fun things like go out to concerts or plays or movies, spend time with loved ones, read novels and not just business books...

David Trehane CEO / product manager at Cropdesk.com

September 20th, 2016

I discovered that doing the much documented candle burning at both ends was making my stress levels so much harder to deal with, so I discovered sport and exercise in general. You'll now find me running or sitting on a board out at sea contemplating what my next move will be or how I'll deal with a particular issue.
Ive found it immensley liberating and so much more productive.