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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself!

The amount of energy and focus needed to build a business from scratch is enormous.  The rush when things go well is a great feeling.  But, there are those days when things seem to go all wrong.  These downer days can steal way your resolve to make the business work and leave you feeling like walking away.  This is when you get the “Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself” feeling.  It causes the best entrepreneur to question everything and can cause them to see everything in the most negative light.  This is not just for first time entrepreneurs either; serial entrepreneurs can have bad days.  On those really bad days, it seems that nothing is going right and the problems can get blown out of proportion with no solutions are insight. 

It is critical that you be prepared for these days and that you maintain good health and have stress release activities you enjoy.  Some of these events can be overwhelming but, as the founder CEO, it is your job to get the business back on track.  You only make it harder when you dwell on the negative rather than the strategy to move forward. 

A few examples of some bad days:

·       3 days before an annual shareholder meeting to approve a $16MM financing with deal documents executed, the investing syndicate calls the CEO and says they are not going through the deal.  The company had about 2 months of cash left and the CEO is about to hold a shareholder meeting to approve the deal.  The CEO now must tell 60 shareholders in a public company that the meeting is postponed to a date uncertain and then try to answer questions.  You can guess what the questions and comments were.
·       A CEO was introduced to a potential replacement with no warning and it was done in a Board Meeting.  The replacement never happened, but that was after 3 months of continuing to work side by side with the new recruit training him.
·       After finishing a major study requiring regulatory approval which was required to market a product, the manufacturing team demonstrated the product could not be made.  That caused a stir.
·       A company built an $80MM manufacturing facility just in time to find out the product did not work. Actually when tested, the product did the reverse of what the medical claim was to be for the product.
·       A Board Member facilitated a deal for the company which forced unwanted creditors to be inherited.  Every time funds were obtained the creditor got nasty. This lasted for 2 yrs and resulted in a battle almost once every month.  In the mean time, the staff was not getting the resources they needed.
·       Scientists clouded titles to patents and ended up getting law-suits in multiple directions.
·       A law suit was initiated against a very large company causing the very small company to spend, spend, and spend on things not leading to final product.
·       Facing bankruptcy 3 times in the same  company.
·       Bad news was announced about a product study result causing the company to drop from a valuation of $500MM to $40MM in 3 hrs.

These are just a few real examples from real companies.  There are more different types of problems than you can imagine.  Most are not new, but new to you, but enough, you get the idea. 

With no stress relief mechanisms, it becomes very hard to think through what to do and resolve issues and plan next steps.   Actually, some of these were even considered minor problems!  So, what can you do to be prepared and to manage through.  A few ideas;

·       If you do not exercise, get started.  Does not matter what, but try to do at least 20 min per day and as many days a week as you can.  Get in the habit and try to leave the problems at home during this time.  Practice and maybe it will be helpful when you really have an issue.
·       Make sure you take care of your health and eat properly.  Overeating does not help even thought you think it does.  Putting the extra stress on your body will only make you feel worse in the end and it may cause health issues as well.
·       Find calm time to sort out problems and think of solutions.  This may take several attempts, but nearly every problem has a solution.  You need to recognize that and then look for tentative solutions.
·       Talk it over with your partners, mentors, board members or friends.  You may be surprised what kind of input you will get.
·       Break the problem or problems in to components; sometimes they can be addressed in stages.  Try to identify simple steps that can lead to solutions or alternatives to get around the problem.
·       Try to remember that the company needs you and your full attention.  This may add stress, but you created the business. 
·       Remember the old saying “When the going gets tuff, the tuff get going”, well it is true.  You are TUFF, so get going.

  Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon