Well said. It is simply making the decision to jump off a cliff while trying to assemble the parachute (and I emphasize “trying”). Every possible thing that could go wrong will definitely go wrong (again I emphasize definitely). I recently spoke to some college students in an “Entrepreneurial Program” at a college. First thing I told them was…you can’t “teach” entrepreneurship. The glamorization of startups and founders has created a false sense of what a startups is. Simply put, many people will thrive and be successful working in a major corporation doing 9–5 with a steady paycheck.
Do you know the one issue in the startup world nobody wants to talk about? Mental Health!
Startup founders have the worst mental health of any surveyed working demographic. Anxiety, uncertainty, sleeplessness, and depression is a recurring theme. Most startup founders suffer years of depression, with many not even realizing what they are going through while going through it. Failure lurks in every corner, you’re constantly one phone call, email, or text message away from your startup and entire life imploding. Going to the mailbox is an ordeal. You don’t even remember the last time you thought about anything non work related for more than 10 minutes. You see friends and families who choose the conventional route seemingly moving ahead in their lives and you wonder what in comparison could have been your story if you choose that same path (or at least stayed in it if that’s how you started)…..suicidal thoughts are very common. You’re constantly in the upside down….yet you soldier on.
Compound that with having partners if you’re one that has raised money or have investors. If you’re fortunate to have supportive investors and a good mentor, then you have some support system. Most founders don’t have this. At best you have investors who expect you to bring them the moon while providing zero to no support at best. “Here’s $10, now go make me $10 million and you have 6 months”. This presents another layer of problems if you have the wrong partners or investors. Choose very very carefully. I personally have never been a fan of investors, avoid them if you can.
Every win brings a greater challenge….so you can’t even celebrate small wins.
More startup founders should open up about their mental health. Founders are:
- 2X more likely to suffer from depression
- 6X more likely to suffer from ADHD
- 3X more likely to suffer from substance abuse
- 10X more likely to suffer from bi-polar disorder
- 2X more likely to have psychiatric hospitalization
- 2X more likely to have suicidal thoughts
So…no, being a startup founder is not fun at all especially in the early stages. Then again, some people are gluttons for punishment.