Unwind or die!
Don’t lose yourself in your start-up, writes Charlotte Kilbane
So, entrepreneurship … You might be enamoured of the idea of starting something of your own because you think it will dramatically improve your lifestyle. Think about it – no annoying boss to run around after, no wrangling with HR over leave, no clocking in or counting down the minutes to 5pm – your time is all yours. You want to take your partner away for a romantic long weekend? Just do it…
Sounds amazing, right? I hate to break it to you, but the reality is quite different, especially in the early days of your business. You will feel like a new parent – harried, out of your depth and surrounded by full nappies. Okay, maybe not the nappies part, but you get my point. When you’re trying to craft a reputation, the quality of your work needs to blow potential clients away. You’ve got to produce your A game all the time.
As the founder or co-founder of a start-up, you will learn that the hours are long and the demands unrelenting.
If you think this road will cut your work hours in half, you’re in for a rude awakening.
The very technology that allows you to work wherever you are also serves to invade and take over your life. You’ll find yourself working in bed at 2am just to get a jump on the next day’s to-do list.
Mondays flow into Sundays, pitches and crises flow into celebrations and more pitches and, before you know it, you’re fatigued, ratty and losing the plot.
Here are some random signs that you might be overdoing it:
Racing around the house for 15 minutes, frantically searching for your keys, only for your partner to gently point out that they are, in fact, in your hand.
Answering the phone and forgetting the name of your own company.
Repeating some choice piece of gossip to your partner two weeks after she told you said news (this actually happened, and I have yet to live it down).
Misplacing your phone. Three times in an hour. The bottom line is that this is hard work. When you are an entrepreneur, you are “it”. There is no backup, no slick corporate mechanism that kicks in to support you. It’s all you, baby, so you’d better take good care of yourself.
Both Nikiwe and I are runners, and we’ve both found this to be a stress-release godsend.
During the first few months of Amargi’s existence, I was training for my first marathon (Nikiwe set the bar in 2014 by running a respectable time in the New York City Marathon).
The training was time-consuming, but it was amazing. Running is singularly selfish – a time to think and be in your body.
Everyone needs an activity that gives them that, especially people who are trying to build something that will last.
Make time for your friends and your family – as much as you possibly can. They will be your pressure-release valve, and your sanity checkers. They will affirm you, bring you back down to earth and insist on talking about something other than your start-up woes.
This entrepreneurship kick is a marathon, and keeping up will be a challenge.
Ultimately, you need to give your start-up your all without letting it consume all of you in the process.