There will be a time in each founder’s life when they hang out with their old high school buddies. One of those high school buddies will have an Ivy League MBA, and with that, the answer to all of your problems. Or so they will believe.
If that elite friend’s MBA was as elite as advertised, you can expect them to have the most fluid and insightful of answers to everything. They are the masters of business, even if they are yet to start one on their own. They have pedigree, consistency, a clear path, and enough debt to say that they’ve sacrificed for self-improvement. Many others in your old group of friends will not have an opinion, they do not care. They are supposed to succeed because they are on a path to do so.
More often than not, “moving of the needle” was accomplished by someone who wasn’t supposed to do it.
There will be a spouse who absolutely despises your decision to start a business (until it is successful, that is). There will be a parent who has been an hourly worker for 30 years, telling you how to better fill your professional hours with well filler. There is nothing that you can do to explain that you have so much to do that “filler” hasn’t been necessary for years. If you’re lucky, the other parent was paid a salary throughout their career. That parent can relate to working until, maybe, 8 PM. You will have to bite your tongue when they discuss long hours and sacrifice. Caffeine is a beverage ingredient to them, it is an element to you—air, water, coffee.
Then there is the ever-growing startup media, fresh from their industry course on startup buzzwords. They know everything about new business now. As such, startups are covered like sports these days. The startup division of media conglomerate xyz will want you to discuss: growth hacking, disruption, pivoting, leverage, ecosystems, curated things, market caps, getting shit done, (product xyz) killing, your cloud, innovation, burn rate, your elevator pitch, monetisation, bandwidth, accelerator, incubator,freemium model, funding goals and your path to ‘hockey stick’. Oh yes, they’ve done their research. They are now experts.
There will be your existing friends who don’t understand why their emails take two days to be answered. Out of the 200 notifications that you receive on your iPhone or Nexus, your brain begins to only register about half of those. So yes, messages fall through the cracks. That weekly party at the neighborhood bar / pub that everyone goes to? It isn’t worth it. It equates to about 7 hours of lost time when it is all said and done. You can’t explain this enough. They will not understand.
But most importantly, there is you. Often misunderstood, tired, depressed, psychologically altered by stress, volatile and so damn sure of yourself that no one can convince you that Startup X won’t work. Because of this, few can relate to you anymore. And you can only relate to a few. All you care about is growing something, all the while making sure that everything else stays in place. And yes, it is harder than most folks would think.
You want nothing more to move beyond this phase of etherified hell. But to do so, you have to move through the continuum. The key is a spirit of survival.
The reality of entrepreneurship is a harrowing one, but it doesn’t have to be all bitter pills. Do the following things and you will be a few steps ahead in the sprint triathlon:
- Remove all negative people from your life, don’t even acknowledge them.
- Be alone and cry when you need to.
- Find a CrossFit gym, train hard and eat healthy. *trust me on this one*
- Associate with like-minded individuals.
- Stop fearing failure.
- Visualize the win and hold that win close.
- Study for the future, don’t depend on your current understanding.
- Become a technician, know how to build what you sell. Be comfortable in your irrationality.You are irrational.
- Lastly, make haste slowly. The majority of us move so quickly that we cannot act in a manner beyond the reactionary.
And yes, you will be misunderstood. Your emotions will be neglected by those incapable of understanding your complex life. And even better, most won’t believe that your goals are possible. The insanity of entrepreneurship is simple:
The more unbearable the hardship, the more rewarding the finish.
So yes, entrepreneurship is an unfortunate self-affliction. But when you know that you know that you know—you just have to go for that win. Don’t get caught up in the turmoil around you, don’t hold on to the rejection or the indifference. Just remember that everyone who has done something, has felt the same way that you do. They didn’t let it stop them.