Launching a company of your own starts out like any love story. There's the initial spark that you have for an idea; then, after spending some time with it, that idea either turns into a full-fledged passionate love affair or quickly fades. For most of us it's the former. With 60 percent of millennials considering themselves entrepreneurs it's easy to fall hard and fall fast. The "je ne sais quoi" of entrepreneurship can be more than intriguing.
But what happens when a good relationship starts to turn bad? New entrepreneurs are bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and gloss over the cold hard facts. Most startups fail....and the road to success will certainly not be up and to the right. So when the going gets tough, here are 5 ways to stay sane:
1. Define what balance means for you with a framework in mind
Most will agree that balance doesn't really exist as an end all be all. In fact, you can run yourself down physically and mentally trying to live up the expectation that you can have balance. But what you can do is take control and decide what's important to you and use a framework as your guide. My favorite is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It breaks down 5 keys areas (physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, self-actualization, self-transcendence) that we all need to achieve our full potential in life. Most of us fall short in more than one of these areas. Use something like this as a guide to be aware of where you're lacking and build the life you want.
2. Have a backup plan... or 2
I've seen this mistake time and time again. Not having a backup plan. Contrary to popular belief having a backup plan doesn't mean you admit or have gotten comfortable with failure. It means you're covering all your bases. Having work experience to fall back on is a simple way to make sure you have your bases covered. I've seen too many entrepreneurs jump into entrepreneurship without wanting to learn the ins-and-outs of business by having a job first. This can be the difference between bouncing back when times are rough and your downward spiral.
3. Build a legit support system
In entrepreneurship we always speak about having mentors as a part of our support system. That's an obvious asset but building a legit support system comprised of people who genuinely have your well-being in mind and what to see you win is more important. Your "traditional" mentors will serve you well for tactical advice and strategy around your business but this new support system you develop (comprised of friends, family, and other entrepreneurs) will be the reason you stay sane.
4. Take care of your well-being
Well-being is a hot topic these days and for good reason. If there is no gas in the tank your engine simply won't go. In my opinion this is your lifeblood and you should take this as seriously as you take your business. Sadly, it's often neglected. I like to think of entrepreneurship as a form of creative expression that's simply solving a business problem. That said it really does make a lot of sense that you spend time to make sure your head is in the game and your creativity is on fleek. I'm not going to tell you to meditate, though I'm a believer in its benefits. Your wellbeing is personal so explore what keeps your tank full and do more of that. And when you think you've done enough of it, do it some more.
5. Find ways to stimulate yourself intellectually outside of your startup
Entrepreneurship is cute when you first get started and your passion usually drives you for the first several years. But if you view yourself as a lifelong entrepreneur it's a given that you will get burnt out at some point. This is why it's important to plan for longevity and pace yourself. Go fast but do it smartly and give your brain time to rest by delving into other topics intellectually on a regular basis. This will not only give you another outlet its proven to help business leaders solve problems quicker and find new approaches to the problems they are trying to solve. An added benefit is that you'll actually appear like a well-rounded and informed person during networking conversations. No one likes a business bore.