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Entrepreneur Office Hours: Issue #198
Dealing with founder burnout
Got a great question this week about founder burnout. If you read nothing else in this issue, be sure to jump to the end and read that. Even if you don’t think you’re burned out, you almost certainly are. You just also happen to be a passionate, driven, uber-motivated entrepreneur, so you don’t like to show it.
That’s OK. Just please remember to take time for yourself, too.
However — before you do that — take a few minutes to enjoy the articles in this issue of EOH!
I’ll be honest, one article isn’t directly about entrepreneurship. It’s about how Medium, the platform where I publish most of my articles, is threatening to destroy itself. If you’re interested in the social media industry, it’s worth a read.
Conversely, if you’re just here for the entrepreneurship content (i.e. basically all of you), you’ll probably want to skip the Medium article and focus on the other article which is about every entrepreneurs’ favorite topic: fundraising.
Most entrepreneurs have no clue what venture capitalists actually care about when listening to fundraising pitches.
Medium is tweaking the rules authors need to play by in order to get readers, and that might make the platform feel a lot more like TikTok.
Office Hours Q&A
I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind taking a moment to address founder burnout.
I am two years into my startup. I’ve been working 12-14 hour days nearly every day, haven’t taken a vacation, and basically it still seems like I am hardly making any progress. Sometimes the exhaustion just gets to me and I feel like I want to give up.
I definitely still believe in my product and my vision. However, I worry that I won’t be able to get to the end of this journey because the stress and self-doubt gets unbearable at times.
Your articles and newsletters have been a beacon of joy for me every week. I’m also a follower of your Instagram and love seeing you there, too, so I thank you so much for what you do and continuing to give founders like me hope and confidence.
Amir… you thanked me in your wonderful message, but it’s actually me who should be thanking you. It takes a ton of bravery for founders and entrepreneurs to publicly admit struggle.
As entrepreneurs, we’re taught to always be “crushing it” because if we show any weakness it’s going to impact our ability to get investors, customers, employees, and so on. That’s just not healthy.
It’s also not true!
None of us are crushing it all the time. Personally, at least 90% of the time I feel like I’m failing miserably at my responsibilities – creating content, teaching entrepreneurs, or even being a dad. Plus, the 10% of the time I do feel good about what I’m accomplishing usually turns out to be wrong. So just know that what you’re feeling is natural. Everyone around you puts on a great show, but they’re struggling, too. We all are. And we’d all be helping ourselves so much more if we’d just be willing to admit that.
In fact, let’s call that Step #1 to address founder burnout: acknowledge that you’re struggling. It’s a huge step and one you’ve already taken.
Once you’ve acknowledged your own struggle as an entrepreneur, the next step has to be giving yourself permission to take more breaks.
I know that’s hard to do. Most entrepreneurs feel like they’ve got to grind 24/7 or they’re not going to succeed. But taking a few days off isn’t going to destroy your startup. If anything, it’s going to help your startup because it’s going to refresh you and give you new perspectives on how to approach challenges.
You should also consider finding ways to separate yourself from your startup for a few hours every day. Go to the gym. Take a walk. Hang out with friends. Etcetera.
For example, I have a daily gym habit that’s probably the best thing I do in life in terms of focusing on myself and my personal well-being. In addition, every night before I go to sleep I make sure to spend 30 - 60 minutes doing something relaxing that’s totally unrelated to work. I might watch a show, play a game, or read a book. At first, I felt guilty taking this time, but, the more I took it, the more I began to feel like it was helping me be more productive.
And that’s the bottom line here. Working yourself to exhaustion is fundamentally counterproductive. It’s like the guy who speeds past you on the highway only to get pulled over by the police a few miles later. It was a short term gain, but, long term, it puts you in a much worse position.
I know it can be hard to see that when you’re in the thick of things, but it’s true. No matter how passionate you are about your startup, take time for yourself. It’ll actually make you a better and more successful entrepreneur.
Got startup questions of your own? Reply to this email with whatever you want to know, and I’ll do my best to answer!