If you’ve been following along my journey on this blog, you probably know by now that I only use Snapchat to document my #StartupLife which is why you’ll see a lot of my Stories revolving around what I do day to day.
I often say it’s not easy.
But, in all honesty, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
It’s a long road to get to where you want to be. You need to be mentally tough if you are going to start your own company and fight against the currents.
You won’t magically hit product-market fit. You won’t make the right decisions all the time. You won’t find the right message you need to be delivering immediately. You won’t find the perfect audience that you need to be selling to right off the bat.
That’s #StartupLife. It’s a journey where you will face ups and downs. Mostly downs, but when you do go up, you really go up.
We all know this saying…
Nothing in life is ever easy.
We’ve been hearing it from our parents, family and friends. But is it true? Does it apply with everything, including your journey as a founder?
Challenges of an Entrepreneur and Startup Founder
With this blog, I’m basically documenting what’s happening or what has happened to me. My hope is that someone out there that reads this, will learn from my mistakes, trials and solutions so they can cut the process and jump in front.
I have obviously faced a ton of challenges over the years, but nothing as big and challenging as how we’ve set out to change healthcare in the Philippines, and possibly expand to other countries by the end of the year.
I’ve been learning along the way as it’s my first time to be in the trenches for an app startup. Nothing has been easy so far.
We’ve had challenges changing mindset, crafting the right message, communicating the way that they expect and so on. Basically, all the things that even our counterparts in the first world countries are also facing when it comes to the same market.
Besides the obvious challenges, there are other things that you, as the founder, will probably have to think about.
You are the blood and guts of your company. You are the morale. You are the culture. You are the dreamer and builder. You are the marketer. You are the growth team. You handle analytics. You are the customer acquisition arm. You are the support person. You have to go to the bank to pay bills. You even have to be a janitor sometimes to clean up the office.
On and on, and on, and on.
The reality is, if you are starting a company, chances are, you will be have your hands in a lot of things until you have the cashflow to hire great people. As a proud bootstrapped company, we know this is a necessary situation. Even those with funding can often be frugal in order to focus on what’s really important rather than burning away the cash.
With the things I mentioned above, there are 2 primary things that I always see to be the main challenges for a founder.
Challenge 1: Loneliness and Isolation
The fact is, with all the challenges you face as a founder, there’s a loneliness and isolation that’s attached to it that you will eventually feel. This one is often a big killer for aspiring entrepreneurs. Some people just can’t deal with this.
People break down because they’re so passionate and they feel like there’s nobody like them. They feel like the world is against them. They think the team isn’t giving as much effort as he is. Any of these ring a bell with you? Let me know.
Challenge 2: The Roller Coaster
The reality = starting a company is hard work.
You need to understand this or learn fast on the job if you want to stay the course.
It’s very stressful. The competition, the environment, the things you want done, the update that’s delayed, the team member that’s absent for a lengthy time, the CTO disappearing, the money constraints.
It’s stressful! Full of emotional ups and downs.
Even today, I still have my days where I doubt myself, I get super pumped, I get stuck or just flat out coast through days. It’s why it’s important to identify these feelings early and deal with them to the best of your abilities.
Coping Your Way to Success
Actually, a lot of people hate the word “Cope” because they see it as a sign of weakness. I see it differently.
I like it because as the definition states, it means that you are actually dealing with the issue and facing it head on.
I have been in the trenches for a while and have experienced the ups and downs in the past with other businesses, which is why I’m able to adapt in most cases.
I think there are certain things that you need to do and practice in order to better cope with the ups and downs.
1. Find your Anchors
Your anchors should be someone or something that keeps you grounded. Stressful as it can become, your anchors will keep you in familiar territory. It will help you calm down, regroup, have time to think before going at it again.
A daily routine of how you start the day can be an anchor. I’ve been tweaking my own routine for the past years until I’ve finally reached a point where I know I got it down, though I still add some things to test from time to time.
You family can be your anchor as well. Your family is more important than anything and you shouldn’t forget it even if you think that you love your company just as much. Talk to them, enjoy their company, regroup before going back to war for your company.
2. Have a Long Term Goal
As entrepreneurs, a lot of us just want things done now. Not later. It has to be NOW.
I am definitely not the best long term planner. I have to thank my co-founders for being able to do this. Have a long term plan and work towards it.
Accept setbacks because they will happen, one way or another but that shouldn’t set you back from your long term goal. In fact, the things you learn from setbacks can even speed up what you’re doing and you might reach your goal earlier.
Plan things out. Apply, measure, learn, iterate. The earlier you do this, the less effect the “downs” will have on you.
3. Surround Yourself with the Right Team
Having the right people around you will most definitely have the biggest effect.
A team that stands close together comprised of people that you can count on. From the right co-founders, to team members that are ready to go through a wall for you.
But first, people don’t buy into your company without a WHY. You must show them your vision.
If somebody shows resistance and hurts the group’s mindset, then you need to regroup and let him go.
In the long run, it will affect your morale for the better and will help you manage the ups and downs better.
4. Understand your Limitations
You will always expect too much from yourself. It’s natural for entrepreneurs.
You have to accept that you can’t answer everything on your own. You have to rely on other people sometimes. Understand your weaknesses and ASK QUESTIONS.
Lower your pride a bit and just try it. It’ll give you an outlet for your frustrations and it can give you solutions that you normally won’t see.
Get a group of fellow entrepreneurs that you can trust. Find a mastermind if you have to. A personal opinion of mine, you’ll need straight shooters that will give you answers, direct to the point. No fluff.
5. Learn to be Self Aware
I mentioned earlier in the article that you need to identify what you’re feeling early, so you can deal with it accordingly.
Understanding yourself, how you think, how you react, where you are lacking, the gaps in your thinking and so on, is super important.
The better you understand yourself, the better you can “spot” things and find a solution to how we deal with things.
Here’s a recent example.
I was breaking down with all my never ending tasks and to me, they are all major, high impact tasks. I had too much on my plate and at the same time, I was feeling frustrated with the slow progress in development and I was pissed with customer communication because of how vague the answers always are.
I found a solution by hitting the gym and letting my frustration out with the weights there. Something as simple as that kept me grounded and I found a solution rather than expressing it in a way that I will regret, which might end up hurting the company long term. Within 45 minutes, I got to clear my mind, come up with solutions to my tasks and how to deal with the other furstrations rather than sulk the whole day and be unproductive.
Your solution might be different, that’s why it’s important for you to be self aware.
How You Doin’?
Earlier in this article, I mentioned the saying “Nothing in life is ever easy.”
Well, I think it’s partially true, until you get to a point where things will come easier.
As we grow, we’re going to see more humps. It’s just a fact. BUT as we get better, the ride gets smoother.
You just have to learn to understand yourself and how to cope with the challenges.
The fact is, #StartupLife is pretty much the same with regular life.
Challenge after challenge. More downs than ups.
But you’ll eventually get to a point where it’s smooth sailing even though there are still the eventual humps or turbulence.
Loneliness, emotional breaking points, stress, being overworked, fear of failure, the weight of the world riding on your shoulders. It’s all part of the game.
Know yourself ➡️ Come up with processes/routines/solutions ️️➡️ Pull yourself back up and go back to war. This time, you go back better and more knowledgable.
This time, you’ll win.
Now, go and destroy that fucking roller coaster.
Then tell me about how you did it on the comments or [wp_colorbox_media url=”https://denseymour.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Snapchat-Dennis-Seymour-Philippines.jpeg” type=”image”]. I’d love to hear your story.