You’ve been burning the midnight oil for months to get your startup off the ground and now it’s up and running – so why do you feel so downbeat?
Starting a new business is an emotional rollercoaster – which may not be something you budgeted for in your business plan! Friends and colleagues will tell you that you’re doing great – which you are – but how can you develop a strategy to cope with the inevitable ups and downs of the entrepreneurial life?
1. Accept your lot
You definitely won’t have the same routine as a traditional nine-to-five job and the highs and lows you experience will inevitably feel more dramatic. It’s important to recognise that steering your own ship means you’re more closely connected to the impact of each lump and bump than when you’re a passenger – mainly because you’re naturally more concerned about being knocked off course. As soon as you accept the new status quo isn’t about staying on an even keel but feeling every peak and trough of your journey, you’ll find it gets easier.
2. Find a fresh perspective
Most of us are hard-wired to avoid failure at all costs; entrepreneurs need to take a very different view. When you’re trying new things, failure is not only inevitable but can provide essential data on what doesn’t work, as well as what does. So, instead of seeing failure as an ignominious defeat in itself, it’s important to recognising your mistakes as an opportunity to learn. If you plan to grow, accept the fact that you’ll likely experience as many failures as successes along the way and use both to help you create a stronger, more resilient business in the long term.
3. Keep busy
When you’re feeling blue, it can have the unwelcome side effect of creating inertia which, in turn, makes it impossible to make even small decisions without endless cogitating, creating what’s commonly known as ‘analysis paralysis’. Try to combat this by making sure you always have a full schedule with some fixed tasks to complete each day. If larger tasks seem daunting, break them down into micro-tasks that can be quickly ticked off your list, building a sense of achievement. There’s always plenty to do in a startup, so you shouldn’t be short of ideas.
4. Don’t overdo it
Keep a sense of perspective. It may be hard to rationalise when you’re in the thick of it, but although your startup is important – possibly one of the most important things in your life right now it’s not a matter of life or death. Really and truly, it isn’t. So don’t let it rule your every waking minute. If you think you’re getting too sucked in, place some limits on the time you spend working on your business, then take a break and spend time doing something you love. Don’t think of it as time wasted but as an essential opportunity to recharge your batteries and bring fresh energy to your project.
5. Ask for help
It can be a lonely business, so make sure you have a supportive network of family, friends and mentors who can help you keep a clear head in the months and years to come. Think of running a business as a marathon rather than a sprint and don’t allow yourself to become isolated. Look at support as an essential, rather than an optional, component of your long-term success. If possible, connect with other entrepreneurs who understand what you’re going through and ask people to tell you if they think you’re taking too much on.
6. Stay active
It may sound corny, but you won’t be at your mental best if you’re in poor physical shape. It can be difficult to fit exercise around your daily schedule but try to fit a few sessions of endorphin-inducing activity into each week and you’ll notice the difference. You don’t have to start training for the London Marathon or a cross-channel swim – in fact it’s better if it’s something you can integrate into your regular schedule without it seeming like too onerous a task. Pick something you enjoy – like swimming, squash or yoga – or just make a conscious effort to move around more in your working day.
7. Reconnect with your customers
It can help to engage with your customers on a personal level to help rebalance your mood. Call up a selection of your regular customers and ask them questions about their business, their projections and how your products or services can help them to achieve their objectives. Find out if they have needs that aren’t being met and look for ways that you can support their requirements. Focusing on how your business serves others is a sure-fire way of reigniting your passion.
8. Broaden your horizons
Owner-run businesses can feel insular, so make time to connect with other people in the same boat. Networking is a great way to make new contacts from a business perspective but it’s also useful for reaching out to business owners who are experiencing all the same trials and tribulations as you are. Connecting with other people in a networking setting can help you to re-establish a sense of perspective and give you a sense of camaraderie.
9. Keep your eyes on the prize
Sometimes, in the course of setting up a business, you allow yourself to be distracted from your goals. This can make you stray from the path and will bring its own stresses and strains as you struggle to refocus your energies. If you’re feeling blue, take a deep breath and try to remember why you started out on this journey in the first place; reflect on what you’re planning to achieve in the next twelve months then push your goals center stage and keep them there.