Being a founder can be isolating - but it doesn't have to be. There's a whole community of owners out there, ready to ease your burden
This post was shared by a founder who wishes to remain anonymous.
Being a startup owner is pretty f**king scary—but also thrilling. If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're a founder, so you'll know all too well how crazy the experience can be, especially if you're bootstrapping your baby and burning the midnight oil. Sipping coffee at 3 AM, questioning your life choices? Been there, done that, got the sleep-deprived t-shirt. Those moments of self-doubt? Yeah, they're as common as it gets. But here's the kicker—it's those moments that light the fire under your entrepreneurial arse.
They pushed me to climb mountains I never thought I could. Of course, it's easy to say this with retrospect and with some success behind me - but the craziness of it all did spare me on to do the best I possibly could. Especially in the early days. It was a fine line though, between stubborn determination and wondering if my business would fail.
At the beginning, it was mostly just me and my laptop, forging ahead into the night with unwavering determination. Oh, and coffee. Lots, and lots of coffee. Fond memories of crafting business plans and building prototypes while friends indulged in PlayStation games or family moments. My absence sparked playful rumors of me entering witness protection, but in reality... it did feel a bit lonely at times. While folks where fast asleep, dreaming of carefree adventures, I was wide awake, sculpting ambitions into existence.
The solitude, however, allowed introspection and nurtured my aspiration. The glow of the laptop became my only real companion. Twitter, reddit and YouTube mostly. Looking back, that lonely feeling was the price, yet its weight was light compared to the gratification of progress. I'm not sure I'd have felt the same way had I not made something of all the effort I was putting in!
I built a team, eventually. An amazing team.
But, you know what's wild? Even when I felt my startup begin to sprout its wings, that loneliness never exactly went away. Moving parts, a constant swirl of decisions and managing others proved difficult - but less so with time, thankfully. I had to temper my expectations, as well as reign in the late nights! It was a transitionary period.
Spending less time in the wee hours and the morning, and more time during working hours really helped. I cannot stress that enough. Working to a strict schedule during the day helped with all aspects of my life. This did take time though, and it's hard to either just ignore something until the next day, or let another team member take care of it. You know, giving them things to do and trusting them because you hired them in the first place?
This is also where the entrepreneurial community swooped in, capes and all. Trust me, there's nothing like swapping war stories with fellow founders. Hell, that's why I'm here and why I'm sharing my ups and downs right here on We Are Founders.
I remember this one time at a networking event—I met a guy who had faced the exact same roadblocks I was dealing with. To be able to vocalise and share the issues I was dealing with took a huge weight off my shoulders. Talking works, I'm convinced of that - and if you're struggling, please allow yourself to be convinced of the power of a simple conversation.
Oh, and self-care? It's not just a buzzword. Think of it as your secret weapon against any nagging feelings of isolation. Taking a walk, binging your favourite show/podcast/book, or just zoning out to your favourite tunes—it's like a mini vacation for your brain. I once binge-watched a whole season of a Fraiser in one evening/night. My brain thanked me for the break - sometimes it's good to forget.
So, here's the deal: being a startup owner is like being the lead in your very own action movie. You're the hero, the problem solver, and sometimes, the director. But even action heros have downtime, even action heros feel sad sometimes - and that's okay. The most important thing for me was knowing I was never actually alone. You're not alone in this. Connect with your fellow startup buddies, take care of yourself, and keep your eyes on the prize in a way that doesn't take over your entire life.
Remember: The startup road can be a solitary one, but it's also a transformative journey. Embrace the isolation when you want to, conquer the doubt, and ride the wave of community and self-care.
You've got this.