Don’t be a “fake it till you make it” entrepreneur
Did you know that start-ups create an average of three million new jobs annually? In fact, young firms (one to five years old) account for approximately two-thirds of job creation. So, it’s not just small businesses but startup businesses that have long been the engines of job creation, making entrepreneurs, well, like action heroes.
As an entrepreneur, growing your business is like being on a high-speed roller coaster—screaming, laughing, crying, thrilled and scared to death all at once. And that stress can make you feel like a lemon being squeezed.
The idea of entrepreneurship is romanticized storytelling. Part of an elite team made up of success stories like Zuckerburg, Musk, and Gates, these dreamers and doers achieve hero status and are glorified and packaged as mythical fairytales where no one struggled, and everything ends happily ever after. Yet, before any entrepreneur makes it big, they muddled through moments of near-debilitating anxiety and bleakness when it seemed everything might collapse. And admitting such realities? Flat out taboo. Rather than showing vulnerability or openness, entrepreneurs have practiced what social psychiatrists call impression management… also known as "fake it till you make it." The fact is, entrepreneurs experience significantly more anxiety than their employees and here are just a few reasons why.
There is a high risk of failure with three out of four startups failing, ventured-backed or not. Everyday feels like you are facing constant set-backs, lost customers, lack of funding, missed sales goals, disputes with vendors, increased competition, staffing problems--all while struggling to make payroll. Often entrepreneurs have put it all on the line from having a significant chunk of personal savings invested in the company to taking money from family and friends. With so much pressure, entrepreneurs often neglect their health. They eat too much or too little; same with drinking. They don't get enough sleep. They fail to exercise. So, what can you do?
First, really get to know yourself. Knowing how you behave and what drives you will give you the self-awareness needed to better manage stress by making the right decisions for you. The reason is simple, by knowing in advance what’s liable to shake you will help you build the right company in a way that keeps your stress levels in check. If you’re just entering the world of entrepreneurship, keep an eye out for stressful situations and set yourself up to not have too many to manage at once. If you run a business already, you know the stresses of the job create emotional turbulence. Taking time to assess what your major stress triggers are will help you better manage the pressure of everyday entrepreneurial life. Second, find a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to talk to often; and in an honest and open way. Spouses and friends are great, but like Brene Brown said “If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I don’t need your feedback.”