There’s no question that an entrepreneur’s life can be very hard. It’s a lonely journey and he has to slog through it alone. It’s hard to explain to others the angst which entrepreneurs suffer when things aren’t going well and since the buck stops with them, it seems that they spends their entire life fire-fighting to keep the startup going.
What makes matters worse is that most people have a very distorted view of what the life of a founder is like. After all, starting a company seems to be a very glamorous thing to do – and it’s cool to call yourself a CEO and a founder!
The problem is compounded because the media presents a very distorted picture. It only highlights the successful entrepreneurs and doesn’t talk about all the depression, failure, and heart burn which an entrepreneur has to deal with on a daily basis.
Entrepreneurs find it very difficult to get support from anyone else and many find it hard to retain their sanity while dealing with the frequent downs which characterise the daily life of most startup entrepreneurs.
What I find disappointing is that entrepreneurs don’t do a good job of supporting other entrepreneurs during their journey and, perhaps, this is because the ecosystem in India’s still not very mature.
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Thus, while they do hang out with each other – especially during conferences – they don’t do a good job providing the emotional support which they need. This is tragic, because who better to understand the travails of a founder than another founder – someone who has “been there, done that?”
I suspect this is partly because most entrepreneurs are men. They are supposed to be macho and are expected to handle all their problems by themselves. After all, isn’t a founder supposed to be a tower of strength who rallies the troops? How can he reach out for help from someone else? Won’t that be seen as a sign of weakness?
You can get a lot of help from someone else who’s spent the same sleepless nights you are now having to endure, because they have tackled the same problems you are having to battle with today. Who better to empathise with a founder than another founder?
The trouble is that entrepreneurs often treat each other as competitors because they’re all vying for funds from the same group of investors . They hide their ideas from each other and some entrepreneurs will refuse to pitch in front of other founders because they’re scared that their ideas will get stolen!
How Entrepreneurs Can Help One Another
This is so sad. Senior entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to act as mentors and coaches to others, and I am very disappointed that they don’t do so.
Yes, I know you are very busy running your own startup, but perhaps you can offer online coaching to a closed group of entrepreneurs for one hour every month ? If you are anxious that you may end up helping a competitor, perhaps you could assist only those who work in different domains?
Talking to someone who’s been down the same path you are now walking for two or three years ago is very helpful , because he knows exactly what your pain points are and by learning from him, you will become that much smarter. Quite frankly, it’s very helpful for him as well, because it allows him to step back and coaching someone else actually helps the mentor to learn a lot as well. Over time, as these entrepreneurs grow up and become successful, hopefully, they will become mentors themselves and life will come full circle as they pay your help forward. They will then be able to fund a new set of entrepreneurs, who will be able to get not just smart money, but guidance from them as well.
[This post by Dr. Aniruddha Malpani first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]