The Psychological price of starting a business

Perhaps the easiest job in the world is to give advice to people, especially the first time entrepreneur community who are constantly seeking inputs from any source they can get access to and there is no shortage of advice either on the world wide web or the millions of books that are available to help people become rich overnight.

Most media and publishers will repeatedly talk about success stories of entrepreneurs and will give you a list of people who became billionaires before they turned 30, they seldom highlight the harsh truth of the mental turmoil and the struggle that entrepreneurs whether solo or with a team
have to go through. Because the consumers of media want to hear only success stories as they sell like hot cakes.

It is hardly surprising then, that we often hear about Mark Zuckerberg in the news and sometimes almost every single day, but very few would know about Ilya Zhitomirskiy.

For the outside world, running a start up is all that they have dreamed about all their life and the glamour associated with the job title of a CEO perhaps imagining themselves standing on the wings of an aircraft posing for media with 2 models in bikini standing on either side that makes headlines and an article to compliment with their success story, makes them feel running a start up is what they should be doing in life.

And then reality bites….very hard.

If one digs deep into the mindset of the entrepreneurial breed, they tend to be highly creative, self-starters, energetic and more likely to have fluctuating emotions and vulnerable to depression, anxiety, feeling of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide all the time.

Some entrepreneurs especially the lone inventors are more vulnerable than others. The constant fear of failure may lead them to deep depression, which is often not talked about, as startup founders are meant to be brave and  mask their real feelings to the world.

Entrepreneurs do not need advice, as they would have done their own research and very well know what they are getting into and understand what they need to do to succeed. They also know they have a slim chance of success, yet their never give up spirit and perseverance keeps them going.

They need moral support and strong backing from the entrepreneur community, the society and most importantly their own families. They are creating jobs for the future generation.

I wonder how many here will back me if I wrote a post on linkedIn – an open letter to all CEO’s to rethink about their hiring process to give priority to failed entrepreneurs (of course on merit) rather than individuals with a 3-letter degree just for the reputation of their institute they earned the degree from. Who would have a business acumen better than start up founders ?

Would the assurance of a job from business firms help alleviate the stress that start up founders face in the unlikely event of failure ?

First time CEO’s need to understand that it is the business venture that failed and they shouldn’t even consider themselves as failure ever. Also, they need to understand when is the right time to call it quits.

When in depression, people tend to cut off from their family and loved ones. It is important for family and friends to reach out and take good care of people going through depression.

The start up phase is the best time to learn a new skill like playing a musical instrument or reading self help books or join networking or social events or anything that distracts the mind. Nothing more important than health.

Today, I can afford to smile for the rest of the world, but beneath the mask is fear of failure, fear of the future,  anxiety and chronic depression that I am  trying to hide and it is the never give up spirit that keeps me going, hoping for a better tomorrow.


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