The start-up life is lonely and stressful. Without solid emotional support, your new venture might be dead in the water.
Being an entrepreneur can suck. It is stressful, lonely, and often depressing. Start-ups need emotional help just as much as they need money, yet it is rarely offered as a resource to fledgling founders. Investors tend to focus on business models and equity contracts, as they should. But without emotional help, most start-ups are dead in the water. Here's why.
Strategy is easy. Human emotions are not.
Jack Welch famously said, "The soft stuff is the hard stuff." Anyone who has ever built a business knows this is true. Rather than avoid uncomfortable emotions, founders would fare better to learn how to effectively use them.
Critical decisions are emotional, not logical. Instead of getting emotionally hijacked with negative emotions like fear and insecurity, learn to understand them. It will empower you and strengthen your ability to influence others. If you aren't high functioning in the emotional realm, learn from someone who is.
Stress is the biggest creativity suck.
Stress is one of the most debilitating aspects of the human experience. For entrepreneurs, the stress is times 10, leaving founders feeling exhausted and unproductive. But it doesn't have to be this way. In the right amounts, stress is a powerful driver, pushing you to accomplish things others only dream of.
If you're over-dosing on stress, one of the first things you'll abandon is your creativity. Shrinks can help to keep it all in perspective, talk you through the "red zone," and help you find your unique way of navigating the unknowns.
Relationships are the turbo fuel of successful start-ups.
Any start-up can ship a product or market a service. The companies that are out for long-term success are the ones where individuals share intrinsic trust and deeply care about one another.
In a world where technology is taking over, we need to preserve what makes us human--inspiring others, being vulnerable, building trust, empathizing, communicating. Shrinks call attention to the relational aspect of what you're doing. They can even help you build better relationships with people that can carry positive repercussions far beyond your start-up team.
Starting a company can bushwhack your self-confidence.
Where there is big risk, there can also be big injury. For entrepreneurs, the damage is often to their self-esteem. Shrinks can help reframe a psychological body blow into an opportunity to evolve.
Don't hear this as everybody-gets-a-trophy b.s. where the goal is to feel good. Think more Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own--"There's no crying in start-ups."
Failure is inevitable. In fact, if you're not failing, you're not pushing your limits. If you're trying to change the world, you don't have time to navel gaze or feel badly. Get help to understand what didn't work, build on what did, and move on.
We all lose our way.
It simply is unrealistic to think that starting a company is a linear undertaking--"I will begin at Point A, then move to Point B, ending triumphantly at Point C." False.
You will lose your way. You will forget why you thought this was a good idea. You will hate your cofounders. You will believe that no one cares. You will lose money. You will think you have the creativity of an IKEA painting.
This is why you need a shrink.
She will ask the overlooked questions and help revive your energy and vision. How are you most disappointed in yourself? What lesson is your team teaching you right now? How are you impacting others and why should anyone care?
Dr. SHELLEY PREVOST is a co-founder of Lamp Post Group, a venture incubator in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She curates kick-ass cultures by infusing principles of positive psychology in her role as Director of Happiness. @thegladlab