the stress of a start-up

Images-1This summer I invested in a company that realized soon after closing that although we all thought the idea was a brilliant way to help and disrupt a part of the restaurant industry, the restaurant industry kind of liked the way they operate.  I have seen this before when people from the tech industry are so dismayed at how some industries operate and they know fundamentally by streamlining many components digitally it could be huge but not all industries are ready for that leap. 

The entrepreneur did the right thing and gave the money back.  Doesn't happen that often as many would just try to push forward and prove their concept and it takes a lot of humility to do what he did.  We caught up this week and had a very interesting conversation about the post re-cap.  Not surprising but he felt really depressed for a few weeks afterward. 

We spoke about the pressures of the start-up industry.  It is the emotional piece that few people talk about.  First time entrepreneurs find that they have nobody to talk to about many issues that happen within companies because there isn't a peer at their level.  Sometimes there are co-founders but there is generally one that takes the lead.  Nobody wants to talk to others entrepreneurs (their peers) and tell them that they are so stressed out that they go home and cry every night or feel so overwhelmed that their head feels like it is going to explode.  After all, we are all going to succeed, right? 

There is so much money being tossed around these days at ridiculously high valuations which puts even more pressure on an entrepreneur to succeed.  As an entrepreneur you look around at the landscape, companies are getting funded daily, companies are getting ready to go public, companies are changing the way we live our lives, there are new companies everyday launching in the same space and the competition is rough.  Need I go on?

I try to be available for anyone I get involved with.  Some don't want advice and that is fine too but it isn't always about the business.  I have also spent time talking to people who are trying to figure out what is next and although they are positive you can tell that there is a part of them that is frustrated and confused.  When I speak to people who are trying to get funding after being initially funded by some of the many funds out there from 500 Startups or to even the organizations that teach you how grow your company like Techstars or Y Combinator I wonder that many of them are probably not scalable businesses for VC's to fund.  Most entrepreneurs believe they are going to be the next big thing and the reality is they are not.  What happens to those entrepreneurs mental state? 

I have suggested to many first time entrepreneurs to speak to a professional coach that will help them navigate the emotional landscape easier which in turns help their career.  More than anything speak with someone, a mentor, an adviser, an angel about your frustrations.  It is ok to say growing a company is not easy because it isn't.  There are the ups and there are the downs and sometimes they don't work out.  Nobody talks about the downs and the closings and perhaps we should be talking more about them since everyone has a start-up these days and the odds are most of them will not succeed.