Tim Rudkins, Small Business Coach & Solopreneur
Depression during the initial months (or years) of starting a new business is common and quite frankly – there are a lot of good reasons to become depressed! You rarely have any customers. If you do, most of them are freebies and/or are taking up huge amounts of time. There are a bunch of bills to be paid. Usually there is a spouse involved who is not thrilled about your idea of starting up on your own and whether he or she is saying anything, in your mind they are commenting all the time! Friends and former colleagues give you odd looks (again, or so you think) and in the hierarchy of status, on a scale of 1-10 you’re feeling like you are in the negatives. Quite frankly, starting a new business is tough and you have every right to be depressed.
So what to do about it? Other than saying that it is better than being in Africa, you need to deal with it right at the outset. I’ve been there several times myself and because I focus on start-ups and solopreneurs (even worse because they have to face it all themselves), here are some of the lessons I’ve learned to deal with it.
1. Tell yourself each day that it will suck and then have a laugh as you say it.
I have never been a fan of false optimism and find that if you acknowledge that it will be difficult for quite some time and enjoy a chuckle while you say it – it makes it easier. I don’t know why, but it works for me!
2. Remember why you are doing it.
After I have the chuckle I think about why I am doing it – freedom from a boss, chance to achieve something different before I die, flexibility in my schedule, and last but not least, working in my underwear. All of these are good reasons and I’m sure you have some of your own. Remind yourself of them. Write them down or even put them on your screen saver. All of it works.
3. Get out of the house.
Nothing is more depressing then sitting at the computer hoping sales will come in. Go out to network events, make possible client calls, and canvas the neighbourhood. Get out at least twice a day and in particular late in the evening before going to bed. Air and sunshine make you feel better right away and the simple act of moving makes you feel like you’re getting somewhere. After all, you kind of are getting somewhere by getting up and doing something!
All the scientists are slowly coming around to it but nothing beats depression like a little exercise. I go for a run or walk every day if I am in the house and push myself even when I don’t feel like it. Not an exercise person? Become one! Join the YMCA, take a class, or just walk. It will change your attitude, and customers can smell depression somehow. Exercise will change that.
There you go, four ways to beat the “start-up blues”, all of them work and I still do them myself all the time. Above all, remember that one day we are all going to die and no one ever said on their deathbed – “I sure wish I didn’t try to live my dream and kept on working at that large, oppressive company.” Of course, that would be a long thing to say on your deathbed but you get the idea.