I was recently speaking with one of our entrepreneurs. We spent the first few minutes of the conversation talking about the stressful moments in our jobs and our strategies for dealing with stress. We talked about the benefits of exercise, forcing yourself to take time off, and disconnecting well before going to sleep.
About 10 minutes into our conversation, which was getting more interesting the more we talked, the founder said “OK, let’s move on to more important topics”. For a founder experiencing a lot of stress, I don’t think that there’s a topic more important than what we were talking about. The reason is that, in order to effectively manage a business, you first need to manage your own psychology. If you’re not doing the latter, the former is going to suffer.
In fact, the psychological support that an investor can provide a founder is one of the most important contributions that they can make. Running a business is a lonely role. There are so many decisions to be made and ultimate responsibility for the consequences of these decisions resides with the founder. A failed product launch is the founder’s responsibility. A wrong hire is the founder’s responsibility. An ineffective marketing campaign is the founder’s responsibility. This pressure can tempt founders to not share the problems they’re facing so as to appear to have everything under control.
From working with multiple founders, your investors know the stresses that you’re facing. Although we currently do not feel it to the same extent as you because of the fact that we’re invested in multiple companies, we have relevant knowledge of the strategies and mindsets that are effective in dealing with stress. And our interests are aligned with yours so we will gladly share this knowledge with you.
But we can’t support you if you avoid the issue altogether or see it as an unimportant issue only worth addressing for 10 minutes. We can only support you if you recognize the importance of managing your own psychology, embrace it as part of the journey you’ve chosen, and openly share how you’re feeling.
This doesn’t mean that you need to share how you’re feeling with each of your investors. There are naturally some who you will have a better relationship with and trust more than others. Having one or two such people is all that you need. These one or two people who help you manage your psychology can make all the difference.
Also published on Medium.