Updated: Feb 10, 2019
Recently, I came across this Inc. Magazine article from 2013 titled, “The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship.” I read the article and found myself thinking about my own experience as an entrepreneur.
Many of the people around me who lead a “normal life” have a glorified view of what it means to be an entrepreneur. I hear words like “amazing,” “must be fun,” “living the dream” and “you are so lucky.” And yes, being an entrepreneur has its upsides. But as Elon Musk said in a tweet last year,
“The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don’t think people want to hear about is the last two.”
As a founder and a leader of a startup, stress has been my constant companion. I have an endless list of things that we worry about. Here are just a few:
The finances of our company.
Keeping our customers (and users happy).
Finding and hiring the right people.
Closing new business.
The 10,000 small decisions that need to be made every week.
Being the leader my company needs.
Nailing the customer or investor presentation that is coming up.
This prompted me to do some more research and reading on “stress and the entrepreneur.” I found a blog post, "The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship: 2018 Data & Resources for Help," by Aaron Orendorff of Shopify. In the post he writes:
“Entrepreneurship can be a grisly, volatile mess of toxic ingredients on the verge of combustion, threatening to consume your health, relationships, and life.”
And then I found this post by Srikumar Rao (also in Inc. Magaize), “The Fearsome Nightmare Entrepreneurs Never Talk About.” In his post, Rao describes the nightmare this way:
“It is entrepreneurial terror, an all-encompassing dread that comes from nowhere and throws its coils around you like a python ready to feed. The coils grow tighter and tighter suffocating you and sucking the life force out of you. You look into the abyss and there is nothing to prevent you from toppling headfirst into it. You scream soundlessly and no one can hear.”
So why am I sharing this with you? When I read this and other articles, I had an epiphany: “I am not alone!”
These articles also prompted me to start to take a more active role in managing the stress that comes from being an entrepreneur. While I am clearly not an expert on stress management, I would strongly encourage all my fellow entrepreneurs to look at the stress in your life and find ways to actively manage it.
To that end, here are a few articles that I have found helpful as I have tried to manage the stress in my life.