How not to be depressed as an entrepreneur 1

Previously, I blogged about why being a entrepreneur can be depressing. I promised that I would write later about how not to be depressed.
So, now it’s later.

There are two things that can make a HUGE difference in handling the difficulties that running a startup throws at you.

The number one piece of advice is

Have the right family.


That may not be helpful if you are stuck with the one you’ve got, but what you need to know is that running a startup is going to affect not just you but everyone around you.
If you have not gotten the support of your spouse, when times get hard – and they inevitably will – the situation will only be worse for you.

The best thing you can do is at the very beginning make sure that your significant other – and you – have realistically considered the challenges and sacrifices that you’re going to face. You can get expert support with payroll issue when you visit, but no expert will help you get the support of your spouse.

What kind of sacrifices? Primarily time and money. Lots of time and money. It may be that there is a tiny fraction of startups where the founders don’t have to dip into their savings to pay the bills. Yours  isn’t going to be one of them.

I don’t know if you’re one of those couples who has “date nights” but if you are you aren’t going to be anymore. I’m not saying that you will never ever again have time to go to a movie with your spouse. I can guarantee you, though, that you will be doing it a lot less often.

That makes it sound like I’m back to depressing part again, doesn’t it? It won’t BE as depressing when you can focus not on how you are going to make the payroll with your savings but rather how lucky you are that you have someone who supports you in that.

You will be a LOT less depressed than if you have someone criticizing you for the decisions that led to the cash shortfall.

An absence of self ruminative thoughts

This is actually the number one piece of advice I would give to keep from being depressed.

Many years ago, I had the great opportunity to attend a lecture by one of the world’s foremost psychologists , Albert Bandura. He talked about what makes people happy. The number one factor according to him is the absence of self ruminative thoughts. People who were happy did not spend a lot of time worrying about how they looked, what they said or what other people thought about them. In fact, they didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about themselves at all.

Don’t make it about you. Yes, when your sales are less than you had anticipated or a major customer pays late, and you end up in a cash shortage situation you do need to think about that. Mostly you need to learn from it and make adjustments so it doesn’t happen again. What you do NOT need to do is beat yourself up about it, keep wondering how you could have made such a mistake, why you didn’t see this coming, whether you really have the talent necessary to make it as an entrepreneur and on and on. The fact is, for many situations from problems with an employee to shortages of cash to not gaining market share as rapidly as you had hoped, the problems you face are problems faced by nearly all startups. Learn and move on.

Don’t worry about what your Aunt Martha, the other entrepreneurs at the tech meet ups or your college graduating class thinks about you. Focus on making your company better and don’t worry about anything else.

What other people think of you is none of your business.

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One thought on “How not to be depressed as an entrepreneur

  • Elaine

    Good blog. I agree a supportive family, counting your blessings, and focusing on getting things done is the key for not being depressed. Feeling down, and sorry for yourself does not pay the bills. Even when your business isn’t considered a start up anymore, it is still your baby. You have to feed your baby, clean your baby, and love your baby. If a person doesn’t love the business they started, it dies from neglect. Love helps you find the time to put in the effort. People you start with often will leave you, and not be there in the end. You have to love what you do enough to keep going.

    I love that Julie makes the entertaining faces!. It blows my mind that already she is grown up. Seems like yesterday Julie was a baby. I think it is awesome how all of you work together as a family. Keep up the good work!

    Its interesting how time flies when you are having fun. Life can suck for awhile and get better. But having fun while the suck happens I think is all the difference. .