Equity Land - Getting Off the Roller Coaster
Updated: Aug 24
Roller coasters are fun in limited doses. The problem for some Entrepreneurs is getting off. It is hard for them, myself included, to get off the ride and reset. I have looked for many years on how to do this, but have found no formula and little help in current thought leadership. Some in the start-up community in Portland, Oregon, where I live, are starting to make some real noise about mental health issues with Founders, but we are in the "identify the issues phase."
Getting off the roller coaster involves separating your identity from the work you are doing. This is challenged by the fact that you must give 100% of yourself to get any real start-up off the ground. One reason America leads the World in innovation and new business generation is the fact that you can try something here and fail and try again, and our society will allow this. In European culture, this is less so, and in Asia, even less.
The tech start-up get rich quick ethos of Silicon Valley has not helped this issue in the short term. The idea that you can have a great business plan on Tuesday and get $10 million in VC funding on Friday is not normal nor healthy. This ethos makes the typical healthy founder feel, even if subconsciously, like a failure. This meme needs to be destroyed, and a new paradigm of hard work, long term vision, and sustainable effort need to replace it.
To get back to an Equity Land we can all live in and stay sane; we will need to separate our work from ourselves. One of the first things I tell founders is to separate their finances between their personal lives and their start-up. I need to start earlier telling them to separate their lives also. Your business is a job; it is not you. Businesses fail; people don't. Not only should we support founders as a community when they are getting started, but we should provide founders with potential the resources they need to get back on their feet, if and when they stumble.