The Happily Grinning Entrepreneur… Or Not

All-Alone-In-The-World-06I have always enjoyed working for myself and I am pretty sure that not much can compare to the joy and sense of achievement that comes with making your own business idea actually work. But entrepreneurship has undoubtedly also been the source of some of the most depressed and desperate moments in my life.

If you think about all the messaging you hear about entrepreneurship, it’s all about success, happiness, self-realisation. There is very little about the practical dangers, the loneliness the potential for depression. When you combine this with the fact that very often people starting new businesses spend a lot of time on their own and typically have money worries you have a recipe for depression.

I don’t think there is any direct, overt cultural incentive to do things this way. And yet, it’s definitely NOT how anyone talks openly about entrepreneurship. Like it is such a holy grail that to intimate that people might fail or burn out is sacrilege. This amazing article by Jessica Bruder looks at The Psychological Price of entrepreneurship. I was of course drawn to it because of the Emotional Toolkit I am working on. But a part from that it’s an intriguing and important article. It looks at how the obvious psychological challenges are just ignored and not discussed and how a model of the shining, successful entrepreneur is almost enshrined in western popular business culture.

alone in universe

From my own experience, I know that I found it very hard to discuss my hard time with anyone. I knew that a lot of my problems were self-induced. They also felt intensely private, almost not a business problem but a personal failing.

The net result was that I deprived myself of emotional support and possibly some sound business advice by maintaining the happy, grinning entrepreneur façade while I lay awake at night trying to figure out how to solve these problems.


3 Steps To Take Today:
1) Just because you work alone, don’t be alone. Tell a trusted circle what you are going through and build a support network
2) Accept that not every entrepreneur succeeds wildly and experiences no bad times… even you. Especially you. We never hear about the famous failures, just the successes. That doesn’t mean they don’t happen.
3) Find the key thing that motivates. The thing that REALLY gets you out of bed in the morning. Try and keep that front and centre in your mind when the going gets tough. Don’t be alarmed if over time that changes. But you must have something.

I saw the article I have linked to hear incredibly uplifting. It was good to realise again that I am not alone in my struggles to stay afloat in the world we exist in. I hope it brings similar comfort to you if you are also a self-starting, dream-pursuing, self-employed person.

3 Responses

  1. Peter Cook

    It’s becoming harder. Almost daily I am approached by timewasters or people who want a freebie.

  2. David Chislett

    Always the worst kind… Generally you only find out they want a freebie AFTER getting all excited!

  3. René

    That’s hitting a mark! I often feel that working hard and getting some results (after a many many month slow start) is something that I feel I should keep under wraps and not talk about too much. The risks/possibilities of being in the gutter next month or having a non paying customer are things that are always on my mind, or just the governmental organisations.

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