From the outside, a recent poster to question-and-answer site Quora seems to be living the startup dream. He or she has been running a very successful VC-funded startup for five years, and what's more impressive "the business has grown as predicted." Sounds like a complete success, but appearances can be deceiving.
"I'm just tired and have lost my passion," the anonymous founder confesses, adding, "I'm a builder of awesome startups, not a 'runner' of established companies. What should I do?"
Such an honest question from an obviously accomplished poster brought out the best in the Quora community with several VCs, serial entrepreneurs, and coaches taking the time to provide thoughtful responses. In case you're feeling a similar sense that your business has become a slog, here's the essence of many of the answers.
1. Take a real vacation
No, not a long weekend where you "just" check your email quickly every couple of hours and sneak in a few hours of work on Sunday morning. The first step to reevaluating and refocusing for greater passion, according to almost every respondent, was a proper two-week off-the-grid getaway.
"My first suggestion is this: Take 2 2 weeks off," writes Storm Ventures partner Jason Lemkin. "It's hard to take a full month off, so instead do this: For the first two weeks, come to the office, but don't really work. Go to the gym or for a run after you get in. Decompress at the movies in the afternoon. Just let yourself disengage a bit; then two weeks really off. Go at least as far as Hawaii, maybe farther. Check email only once a day, and do nothing other than simple responses for mission critical items. No phone calls, no work product."
Executive coach Dolly Singh also suggests "taking a break before making any major life decisions."
2. Consider reshuffling roles
OK, refreshed and tan after your two weeks away? Now's the time to think really hard about what caused you to feel so drained and how you could possibly redefine your role to make it less of an energy suck. "Dedicate yourself to bringing in that missing VP, or a COO, or someone to somehow shoulder at least 50 percent of your load," Lemkin advises.
Hiring someone to take the pressure off is one option worth exploring, but other respondents suggested a different type of reshuffle. It's also possible that you'll need to move into a different role and hire a CEO. That was the solution of entrepreneur Hampus Jakobsson when he grew exhausted with his startup.
His advice: "Think of what you enjoy and are best at--is it sales and marketing, new product and R