Here, we asked Young Entrepreneur Council members for their tips on navigating the darker moments of entrepreneurship:
1. Phone a friend.
In the first few months of startup life, long nights and weekends usually spent with friends and family often turn into all-nighters at the office. However, it's actually a perfect time to make a renewed effort to connect with your social network in real life or even with quick phone calls. Quality time with loved ones is the best way to manage a stressful work life.
- Neil Thanedar, LabDoor
2. Don't alienate yourself.
A strong support system is essential during the early days of a startup. There is so much work to be done and too much anxiety, worry, and stress. To keep yourself sane, it's important to have a strong support system that will be there for you no matter what happens. It's good to have loved ones who can help you put your head back on straight when times are tough. Whatever you do, never alienate yourself.
- Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media
3. Relish the excitement of the early days.
Sure, the earliest days of a startup are difficult, but to be honest, so are the later days--and many of the days in between. If you can't relish the excitement of those early days or if your passion for what you're doing can't carry you through those initial tough times, then maybe this isn't the path for you. Enduring is about optimism in the face of adversity--not just in spite of it.
- David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
4. Seek out challenges.
The more obstacles you face, the more others will face in the same path. The biggest problems and opportunities are hard. If it's difficult, you may be on the right track. If it's easy, you are definitely on the wrong track.
- Trevor Sumner, LocalVox
5. Don't go it alone.
One of the best things for Zapier is that I have two excellent and capable co-founders. When the going gets tough, it's nice to have other people to balance things out and help you keep perspective. If you can avoid it, don't do this alone.
- Wade Foster, Zapier
6. Recognize and embrace stress.
There is no way around the emotional roller coaster that is building a business. That being said, the only way to get through the difficult times is to recognize that stress can be healthy for you emotionally and for the business itself. Stress can be harnessed for good, as it can motivate you and allow you to do great work. Just make sure you're up to the challenge.
- Danny Wong, Blank Label
7. Never despair.
Contrary to conventional venture capital wisdom, if you enter a startup scenario (or just a side project within your company) in which success is your only option, you will burn out. Make sure you can try your hand at your project for months or even years, fail, and still remain happy and successful. If your startup is your life, and the pressure of everyday sales calls, employee meetings, and decisions are too high, your performance will suffer.
- Brennan White, Watchtower
8. Smile and sweat.
Whether you make it fun by taking dance breaks or just force a smile, studies show that the act of smiling alone can make you happier, and it's contagious. It's also essential to make time to exercise--even if it's just a brisk walk around the block while on conference calls. You'll have more energy and will be more positive--all with little effort.
- Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
9. Enjoy the grind.
You're going to encounter challenges. The point isn't just to overcome them but to embrace each obstacle as a chance to learn the craft of ownership more thoroughly. That's the difference between those who last and those who burn out. Longevity requires you to find a way to enjoy the tests that would unnerve others. Treat it like you're playing a video game.
- Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving
10. Diligently manage success.
Oddly enough, the most difficult days are the ones when you make money. You must diligently manage success to make sure the business sustains good times.
- Yuriy Boykiv, Gravity Media
11. Ask the hard questions.
The early stage is all about structuring your product or business properly, so it actually becomes a business and sells something people will pay for. To do this, you have to ask the right questions to get the right answers. Be objective by asking good, quality questions about what's working and what's not, and you'll get the right answers that take you in the right direction.
- Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee
12. Keep the big picture in mind.
This will be impossible to see, but the effort is worth it: Your life does not depend on the business succeeding. Your sense of self-worth is more than the success of your company. The deeper you get into the startup process, the harder this will be to realize. But it's vital. When you hit your low points, it will feel like the world is crashing down around you. Leave yourself a mental lifeline.
- Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas
13. Let yourself fail.
Know that failing is OK. Your mom will still love you, and you'll still get a job somewhere. Remember: Just putting yourself at risk like this makes you one of the top 99 percent of entrepreneurs--everyone else just talks about it. Even during the most difficult days, there's still plenty to be proud of.
- Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.
14. Get some sleep.
The early days of a startup are completely and unforgivingly life consuming, to put it bluntly. You can be so engulfed in what you're trying to accomplish that you put things aside to get things done. However, sleep deprivation is not good for you, and it's not good for your business. Make sure you get enough sleep: Don't make all-nighters the rule. They should be an exception.
- Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize