Ask most entrepreneurs how they're doing and you'll hear some more or less modest version of "crushing it," but despite this carapace of confidence, recent high-profile suicides, brave self-revelations, and even ground-breaking reporting (including here on Inc.com) have made clear that entrepreneurship can take a heavy toll on the mental health of founders.
You might not be among those business owners suffering from depression and other serious struggles, but just about every entrepreneur will hit bumps in the road where their confidence dips, the sky seems to darken, and they're just not sure they (or their business) can make it through.
What do you then when things start looking this black? A generous and honest post on the blog of CloudPeeps co-founder and CEO Kate Kendall recently offered some ideas. In it, Kendall opens up about her own crisis of confidence and lists the resources and approaches that helped her weather the storm.
1. You are not alone.
As I mentioned straight off, these aren't the worst days to be an entrepreneur suffering from a crisis of confidence. More and more founders are going public with their struggles and mistakes. Hearing their stories and simply knowing that what you're going through is far from rare can help.
"It's only now that publications like Inc. are uncovering tales from founders with articles such as 'The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship.' While one of the most-loved conferences by web geeks, Brooklyn Beta, created the space to host and share these conversations at this year's event. Leading startup incubator Y Combinator also recently funded 7 Cups of Tea--a mental health platform that connects you with qualified listeners," Kendall points out.
2. Celebrate your wins.
Your bad mood can create a spiral of negativity--feeling down, you tend to notice the things that are wrong in your world, which of course just makes you feel even more gloomy. Break this feedback loop by taking conscious steps to highlight your successes, Kendall suggests. "It's important to recall the wins so you can curb any self doubt. One helpful tool is iDoneThis, which will show you what you did rather than your to-do list," she writes.
3. Keep positive company.
It's hard staying positive in the pressure cooker world of entrepreneurship; it's harder still if you're surrounded with negativity.
"In 'How to Believe in Yourself in the Face of Overwhelming Self-Doubt' on Tiny Buddha, Melissa Ng recommends to be careful with who you surround yourself with," Kendall notes. "When you are rebuilding your belief, keep away from toxic people who will tell you 'No' or 'You can't.' I often divide people into two groups--your 'critics' and your 'cheerleaders.' Your critics are crucial for providing awareness that helps you grow, but in times of self-criticism and doubt, devote time to your cheerleaders who will egg you on and boost you up."
Want more advice and the comfort of hearing one founder's honest tale of her own crisis of confidence (and how she came out the other side)? Check out the complete post. It's well worth a read in full.
What advice would you give to those suffering through the inevitable low moments in the life of an entrepreneur?