As many others, I have also been a startup… several times. There is one thing that always surprises me, though. The sharp ups and downs I have to go through.
You are probably wondering how is it possible at my age and with my experience to feel surprised about this obvious fact of life. I would have to say that the feeling comes from the density and the intensity of the ups and downs.
There have been days when I was on seventh heaven and within a couple of hours I was crashed into hell. And two hours later I visited seventh heaven once more! What type of person can cope with such extremes that apparently take place exceptionally often?
Copying with such fast cycles of mood changes needs a strong personality and an easy going character. The ups and downs should be seen as if we are in a movie. As if they do not happen to us. If the founder makes the mistake to take them too seriously or get too involved, the roller coaster may hurt his/ hers new business. Not to mention his/ her mental health.
Sometimes the ups and downs do not last only a couple of hours. Instead they last for a few weeks. When everything seems to be going wrong for the startup, it certainly undermines the morale of everyone who works there. The only person who can save the day is the founder.
Almost by definition founders are optimistic (sometimes to the point of stupidity) and persistent (to the point of stubbornness). These two characteristics are essential for the survival of the startup at the most difficult of times.
And if you think that massive ups are wonderful, you are mistaken. They may be fun but they are not useful! If a founder is overly excited about the positive developments, he may assume that the successes will continue ad infinitum. However, as in life nothing is permanent, there is a chance that he will not anticipate the dangers that lie ahead and s/he will not prepare for them.
The only way to cope with the situation is an evenness of character and a moderation in action. Once more, the situation should be assessed from a distance and the emotions should be placed under control at all times. The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who recognise emotional upheaval but they do not allow it to affect their judgment.
So next time I get upset about the businessman whose promises did not live up to my expectations; next time I find myself in the flammable cages of hell, remind me of my notorious luck! And next time I am over a moon about the investor who offered my hundreds of thousands of pounds or the kind person who offered me a building for free, remind me about the impermanence of situations and the uncertainties in life.
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