Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller-coaster. Emotions on my mind, I decided to ask a group of entrepreneurs how they deal with a particularly stressful days. The stress of entrepreneurship is constant whether it is the stress which can arise from the drama of scaling a business or expanding into a new market or the stress which arises from juggling family commitments with the needs of a growing venture. Then there's the stress of handling the perceptions or more accurately, misconceptions of startups and success (note: it's not easy and not overnight).

The questions must have hit a nerve, as I received a lot of responses so this is the first of several articles to share the insights. And yes, the answers I received back from these entrepreneurs were as varied as the products and services they sell-with a common sense golden thread of commonality. From prayer to yoga to pumping iron (or wine) to seeking the counsel of a spouse or close friend, the lesson from these entrepreneurs is to be self-aware, have a trusted support network and step back from your work to enable you to step back in-and move upward.

Below are the answers from three entrepreneurs (coincidently all New Zealand-based entrepreneurs building global companies with all the challenges of time zones and expanding into the hyper-competitive U.S. market on top of the usual startup stress) on dealing with stress, the secret to pushing forward to startup success and oh, those misconceptions of entrepreneurship.

Victoria Armstrong, COO
www.whosonlocation.com

Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller-coaster. How do you deal with a particularly stressful day?

I'm on my 3rd start-up in 12 years. At the age of 40 I added two kids to the mix and although life is full and rich, on particularly trying days I cuddle the kids for an extra 5 minutes before leaving home, pump iron at the gym for 30-mins, and create a 2 minute space in the morning and afternoon for crossed legged diagrammatic breathing.

The secret to succeeding as an entrepreneur is....?

Belief in oneself and belief in the end goal.......NEVER give up!

What's the most commonly held misconception about startups?

That if you have A) great product, and B) a strategy to attract customers, then C) you will be a success.

Did you have doubts about launching your product? If yes, how did you overcome it?

No, we thoroughly researched our competitors, their pricing strategies and positioning, and knew that the market was ready for the points of difference that WhosOnLocation would deliver.

What's your advice for aspiring startup founders?

Just do it! I know this sounds cheesy, but the hardest part is starting. Also, make decisions quickly, execute with a focus and persistence that seems inhuman, and be prepared to make mistakes; learn from them fast and execute again, and again, and again.

Sarah Perry, CEO
www.SnapComms.com

Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller-coaster. How do you deal with a particularly stressful day?

Depending on the situation, the available time and the access to these things at the time, one of the following; workout, walk on the beach, wine, breathing exercises, mindfulness, sleep, unpacking it with a good friend, fun with the kids, hug with the husband.

The secret to succeeding as an entrepreneur is?

Resilience, listening, knowing you don't know what you don't know and always learning.

What's the most commonly held misconception about startups?

That you have to get outside funding to scale. Although it's not as widely talked about as venture-backed companies, lots of companies make money from their customers as early as the MVP and drive ongoing growth with these revenue. Being funded by revenue may take longer but it drives resourcefulness and helps you learn and evolve from the school of hard knocks.

Did you have doubts about launching your product? If yes, how did you overcome it?

We launch new iterations of our product on an ongoing basis. For bigger launches the best way to overcome doubt is to talk to our prospects, understand their pain and how our product can solve the pain ...and then be brave.

What's your advice for aspiring startup founders?

Remember that it takes a long time to be an overnight success. It's a bit like having a baby or doing a skydive: it's stressful, it's hard work and nothing can really prepare you for it but the thrill from the wins, the satisfaction of continuous learning and the feeling of achievement from surviving another day.

Tim Cunningham, CEO
thebeautycollective.co.nz

Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller-coaster. How do you deal with a particularly stressful day?

For me I find the best way to manage a stressful day is to pre-empt it. I do this in a number of ways.

  • Regular exercise: I'm not a morning person but I know that at 6am I'm always free. I put aside an hour at this time to exercise at my gym.
  • I enjoy cooking good food. I find it therapeutic (similar to exercise) in that you can allow yourself to focus on something else and let your mind relax.
  • Keeping organized. For better or worse modern technology has blurred the differentiation between workspace and home space. Because we sell our products in different countries and time zones I'll often work from home outside of local work hours and respond to emails at night. I try to keep home and work well organized (without being obsessive about it), when the space around me is clear I find my head-space is too.

The secret to succeeding as an entrepreneur is?

Learn to endure failure and never give up.

What's the most commonly held misconception about startups?

That success comes quickly. One of my favorite quotes "Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success". From the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone

Did you have doubts about launching your product? If yes, how did you overcome it?

Innovation within the beauty industry is crucial and agonizing over how we can improve the design of products that our customers use. Recently we ran focus groups with people who use beauty products to understand why they are buying them and what problems we need to solve for them. These insights have given us confidence to develop new products, and new features we can add to existing ones that will have wider appeal.

What's your advice for aspiring startup founders?

Make your business an extension of yourself. Create something that you are proud of, passionate about and something that other people will want to be a part of. Value and listen to advice of those that want to help you succeed, be prepared to fail, and fail again, and fail again. Persevere, work hard and do what you love.

Published on: Apr 6, 2016