Opinions & Insights

4 Ways to survive being an entrepreneur

Max Tiong, DBS Innovation Group Startup and Ecosystems Lead


Jul 2014

Most startups start off with the dream to make a difference to others, attempt to change the world or even to strike a big windfall. Regardless of why your startup was conceived, we all face the day-to-day struggles of being an entrepreneur. In order to survive these struggles, we need to admit we're not superhuman and start taking care of ourselves too. Here's how to make sure you don't become a sociopath while building your startup.

photo credits Amy McTigue

1. Recognise It's A Job


When customers tell us they hate our product, they don't like the design or they think that it is pretty useless, many of us take it personally. Working in your own startup is a job. It is not an evaluation of who you are, your smarts or your potential. Once we recognise this, it gives us the breathing space to think rationally and not let these comments affect our ability to deliver the best product/service to our customers. Take all negative feedback seriously, but not personally.


2. Spend Time With Others (Really Spend Time)


Working more than 12 hours a day on our startup is not uncommon for startup founders. We tend to slowly drift away from our friends and families. We try to meet them as often as we can but when we do, our phones become a part of it. We constantly check to see if we have gotten new signups, feedback emails or potential investor/partner correspondences. Now, that's just a waste of everyone's time. (I used to have a huge problem with this too.)


Time is our only resource as startup founders. When you're with your friends, put the phones away and really spend time with them. Do not spend most of the time pitching ideas or testing concepts with them. Instead, be the person you were before you were a founder, the one that they chose to be friends with, whenever you are with them. These true friendships last a long time, (usually) longer than the lifetime of your startup.


3. Take Medical Leave


Whenever you're sick (even if it's just a flu), take medical leave! You're not as productive when you're not in your best condition. Trust your team mates to do the job well while you rest at home. Imagine spreading that cold to your team mates if you do go to work! Falling sick is the only way your body can communicate that it's breaking down -- so slow down, and give your body the rest it needs.


4. Start A Blog


Many founders do not have much time for themselves, let alone time to write a blog. However, writing a blog gives you the opportunity to share your struggles with others. You tend to find new perspectives when you write about your problems. This helps you grow as a person and can improve your company. Blogs are also a good way to expand your sphere of influence in your industry. Starting a blog is easy -- just start by keeping your first post simple, and before you know it, you're writing tens and hundreds more.


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