The Other Side of the Coin: Entrepreneurial DepressionZoran
Don’t worry, I continue to claim – there is nothing more beautiful in life than to be your own boss. To change the world for the better through your own business. Inexpressible happiness and freedom, yes, but is there the other side of the entrepreneurship?
What is the right price of our success? For us and people around us? For our children that watch us working continually all the time, for our partners, if we still have them on our side, for our employees, which we push, for our friends, if they are still with us…
Where is the hidden price of the entrepreneurial mania that rules the world and that we in our region have started to wake up to?
I came across the fact that one out of every four persons suffers from depression and that the start-up community has recorded a significant increase in number of depressed and suicidal people.
Why? Because in entrepreneurship with usual ones there is an additional set of challenges waiting for us.
With the stress of every business, statistics show that in the first five years only 20% of the start-up companies will survive. That causes indescribable anxiety and fear. Loss of hope when things do not go as we want. Sometimes even despair. Moreover, all this with mostly great misunderstanding from the people around us, and eventually a great feeling of loneliness, lack of understanding and rejection. Nobody wants to be part of those 80%. Because we have risked everything, invested money, time, ourselves, everything in order to pursue your dream. Because you have identified yourself with your business, and the success or failure of your company is your own success / failure. What if you are going to be among those 80% that will not succeed? Does it mean you have no worth anymore?
People do not talk about it much.
Especially this year many people have come to me for education regarding building of the business or individual counselling, people who were close to be burnt out, or already were burnt out or were under stress.
Some of them have lost health, some have lost their marriages and families, children, some have not had time to start a family while building their businesses, some are already too old to have children, some have lost faith and even worse hope in love and happiness and private life, and that prevents them to be successful in business. Some must go back to live with their parents at the age of 40 or 50 to reduce costs when business does not go well.
Some even come to me with the decision to sell their business, but then during the conversation they realize that that is not the real reason or what they want, they have just lost their focus, burnt out and they still love what they do… Then we only reset the business model and standardize the company.
And some actually have it all, health and good looks, a partner who loves them and supports them, a family, a business that grows and receives numerous awards, and yet they still feel discomfort and they are particularly ashamed to admit that they are not satisfied because they fear the condemnation from people around them, they fear people would say what bothers you, do not be ungrateful, why are you looking for more than you already have…
Some even sold their companies and do not need to work until the end of their lives. But their fears are still there – will they be able to repeat and finally outdo their first success, who are they without that first business, who are they without money, if they succeeded with a partner the first time, will they be able to do it alone this time…
There are also comparisons with others, because the grass seems always greener on the other side.
Finally, there is also Facebook – here we are all positive, everything is nice, it is our little pink world, a fairy tale from the childhood made real. And when the masks fall…
I burnt out myself with my first business, I have already written about it. Then I spontaneously made a shift and accidentally founded the company Zaokret (eng. shift) and I see it helps people unplanned to do the same.
Not many will admit (to themselves) that all looks great from the outside in their lives, but believe me, everyone, literally everyone carries his / her own cross. All of us have at least once gone through collecting money for VAT, trying to find the way how to borrow and transfer money from our own account to the company’s account, how to pay out salaries, how to collect debts… We have experienced struggles with extortions of the large companies, struggles with injustice and illogicalities of the public administration, we fought fraud and theft of our associates in business, and struggled when our employees stuck the knife in our backs… We all know that feeling of helplessness and despair when we looked how our invested savings melted away and we did not see when and how any income would come… And we all went through the same private situations.
Once we dare to start, the road to success that awaits us is not linear, there are going to be ups and downs on the way. Later we see that those falls were inevitable part of the climbing up but it does not hurt us less in the moment when we fall down…
Few will admit that they were or are at the bottom, that they wanted to drown in the bathtub, swallow pills, did not want to wake up from a dream, yes, you got it right, they wanted to commit suicide because in that moment nothing made sense to them…
ALL, literally ALL that is happening to you, IS HAPPENING TO THE OTHERS.
So, the other side of the coin in entrepreneurship among other things means:
- You will lose most if not all of your present friends
- Work-life balance – don’t make me laugh
- You had one boss before, now everybody is f*ing with you: competition, clients, employees, state, partners and family, children and friends, you are never good enough to any of them, you do not dedicate enough time to any of them, you are not here for any of them…
- There will be times when ends will meet
- You will wonder at least once (a day): why did I need all of this?
- You will not sleep at night (definitely a different kind of stress than when a small baby wakes you up at night)
- You could become addicted to adrenaline and drama
- Your emotions will sometimes go in the same day / hour from despair to euphoria etc.
This is not the topic of this blog, but all previously mentioned is worth going through because the rewards of entrepreneurship are much greater than all the problems and challenges that we face on the way.
SOLUTION? Professional assistance if needed, friendly assistance definitely. Some true friends helped me in my difficult moments, each in his / her own way as well as the following five steps:
1. We are not alone – talk to others
the others go through everything, literally everything as you do. Talk to others. If you are an entrepreneur, it is good to have a close entrepreneur friend, somebody who will be able to understand you completely. This is one of the reasons for you to come to Business Café. I personally moderate the one in Zagreb (21 January 2016, 6pm, Spoon) and in Belgrade (27 January 2016, 6pm, Mikser).
2. Do not take things personally
Do not identify yourself with your business – you are not your business. If now some things do not go the way you imagined, that does not mean that you worth less or that you are not good enough.
3. Do not compare with others
We remember – everybody, literally everybody bears his / her own cross.
4. Return your focus
On what YOU want and remember in business it is all about the customers – what they want, how you solve their problem. Back to the basics. A client has a problem; you have the solution, show him how he could benefit from it.
5. Change your perspective
Everything is always very simple, it is just that we get lost on the way sometimes and do not see a wider picture – what we usually need is to change the perspective. We have to focus on what we have and not on what we do not have yet, to be thankful on what we have achieved so far and not on what we do not have yet, not on the distant future.
The hardest battles we fight alone. Inside our four walls. In addition, it is almost impossible to write about them. The brutal honesty with myself, thankfulness for the past and forgiveness to the others, and myself that is what always helps me.
Therefore, on our entrepreneurial way we will go through different things. However, looking back, it is worth it.
Writing this blog I came across a statement by Tim Ferris: “In entrepreneurship all starts with an uninformed optimism, then it follows informed pessimism, then the crisis of significance… And then either a total breakup and burning out or informed optimism.”
Everything is fine. We all go through the same.
It is all about how we are going to react to it. Just that. Just talk to the others. You are not alone; the most important thing for you is to know it. Good luck.