Entrepreneurship can flat out invigorating. The mission, the passion, the idea, the newness…for serial entrepreneurs like myself, it’s nothing short of a thrilling high. But it can also be a lonely and frustratingly nightmarish place to be. Even the most zealous entrepreneurs can get overwhelmed by the hardships, the unforeseen difficulties, market changes, and fellow team frustrations.

Throughout my 3 plus decades of spear heading new ventures in the SME sector, the feelings of overwhelm and distress have been frequent companions. I cannot tell you the number of times I have questioned the rational of what I am doing.

Over the years I have found I must guard myself against this kind of emotional stress.  I share below, my bulwark of defenses against negativity and the unnecessary roller coaster ride of undisciplined emotions when you are in the thick of battle trying to gain traction for your new venture.

So, strap in your seatbelt and employ these 5 tactics to help you survive starting your startup!

Watch out for Little Foxes

An old proverb from the Bible says, “It’s the little foxes which spoil the vineyard.”  I have found that to be particularly true in starting a new company. Usually it is not that difficult to see the main obstacles and threats surrounding a new business venture.  If your new venture is not your first rodeo, more than likely you will have a pretty good idea as to the general downside of your venture.  After all, most everyone can see a huge honking elephant rumbling down the path towards them.  In my experience, it is generally not the big things that affect the outcomes of our work: it is the small things that creep in unannounced and unaware. It is those “little foxes” that sneak in during the night when we are resting and wreak havoc on our beautiful garden.

Determine at the outset what those little foxes are and prepare yourself and guard against them. Nip any cavalier, “we’ve got this” attitude in the bud.  Keep your market and competitor research strong.  Don’t get caught by surprises.  Only by learning and knowing your industry inside out can you facilitate the kind of change that will make you the “disruptor” you long to be.


Run Your Startup on Vision

Vision=solar power.  It’s a never-ever ending source of power that is free, an external power source which rejuvenates from within.

Principle of life:  You always move where you are looking.  Humans do not walk backwards, or sideways, we walk forward, looking straight ahead.  We always move in the direction we are looking.  So the question is, “What are you looking at?”  “What do you see?”

That which you look at, gaze upon, meditate upon, becomes a driving force for your life.

[bctt tweet=”That which you gazes upon becomes a driving force for your life.”]

Your vision for your business will empower you through the most difficult times.  It will keep you focused and moving in the right direction.  Your vision should be focused and crystal clear, and it should provide an instant motivation which you actually feel within yourself whenever you think about where you are headed.

Your vision forms your compass and determines which direction your company will go.  Leaders with a strong vision never give up.  They cast aside all the unnecessary fodder and push through to clarity.

Keep your vision strong and it will be a bulwark of strength against overwhelming thoughts.

Inspire Your Startup Team

Keep your team inspired.  They must also have a 20/20 vision of where you are going and what they are achieving.  They also need a personal vision as to how they fit into the overall plan.  What significance do they bring to the endeavor?  How important and unique are they to the cause?

Inspire them and they will help you with inspiration and encouragement to keep those little gremlins of discouragement at bay.

Define Measurable Goals for Your Startup

Defined and measureable goals are really helpful in keeping on the right path.  For me, goals are a means to an end…not an end in themselves.  They are my “measuring rods” of success.  If I am hitting my goals and targets, which are measureable and sustainable (there is a difference), then I am well on my way to achieving my vision and mission. An accomplished goal is a hearty “well done” to a good job.  It means you are on the right path, success is coming, so keep going.

[bctt tweet=”Solid startup goals must be measurable and sustainable.”]

Decompress Daily

“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”  Becoming “dull” is the death knell of a founder and his team.  Only those who stay sharp and focused will win the prize.

So, take time off….rest…play….exercise…eat well…and decompress from the stress.

I suggest you and your team divide the day into work “blocks.”  One and a half to two hours maximum…and then a short 15 minute break.  Go for a stretch, a walk, a breath of fresh air, a cup of coffee.  Just STOP work and disengage your mind for a few moments.  You will be amazed how refreshed you will be.

One other thing that I find rejuvenating (when I actually do it) is taking a 15-minute power nap in the middle of the afternoon. Try it, I guarantee you will wake up refreshed and invigorated.  The secret is to make sure you do not sleep longer than just a few minutes.


Stay Sane During the Startup Days

There you have it…an old war horse’s tips to staying healthy mentally and emotionally during those difficult start up days.

Don’t allow disruptive feelings to overshadow and overwhelm you.  Keep them in check by keeping the “little foxes” at bay, living your vision every day, inspiring your team and receiving inspiration from them, establishing measurable and sustainable goals, and decompressing each and every day along with your team.