A lot of books written for start-ups are focused on the business elements like getting funding or creating project proposals, but Karin Abarnel and Bruce Freeman chose to write a book for women entrepreneurs where the focus is on the psychological and emotional elements. In their book, “Birthing the Elephant: The Woman’s go-for-it! guide to overcoming the big challenges of launching a business,” they discuss the four stages of what they call the emotional road map to start-up success. Below you will find how the authors identify the emotional obstacles you’ll hit in the first 18-24 months of setting up your start-up, but they also show you how to push past them so you can achieve your goals. This post will be the first in a series of four blog posts, each one focusing on a different stage in the start-up process.
STAGE 1: START YOUR START-UP
What you’ll feel: Exhilaration, Loneliness, Stretched to the limit, Intensely focused.
You’ll find yourself feeling surprisingly exhilarated and confident about launching your start-up as if you’re ready to take on whatever comes your way. Make sure to bask in this for as long as you can, because then the natural feelings like loneliness or like you’re disconnected could follow later on. This is seen especially in individuals that have left their job to focus on building their start-up, because now you spend your days alone and your work schedule has changed completely. This can lead to feelings like you are stretching yourself to the limit because you’ll be working long and crazy hours and your personal life may take a hit. Virtually every waking hour is devoted to launching your start-up so you can no longer relate to others using phrases such as “after work…”. Another emotion that can tend to hit you like a ton of bricks is being concerned about your finances, since you no longer have a consistent source of income and you realize now more than ever just how risky this endeavor may be. However, all of these lead to a positive emotion in that you can guarantee that your start-up, your passion, your idea, is going to make you intensely focused because the little victories along the way can empower you to perform small miracles.
Key Success Strategies: Choose a launch strategy, Anchor yourself, Set boundaries, Make your first 100 days count.
It is important that you choose a launch strategy meaning that you take into account the time you can realistically devote to your start-up as well as the level of financial freedom or lack thereof you would have. A great way to figure out your strategy is to make a business plan for yourself and for potential investors. Don’t have much time? Check out BPlans where you can use business plan software to help you out. Another good piece of advice is to make sure you anchor yourself with a new operating structure, meaning that you have to generate a routine for yourself that allows you to organize projects around your periods of peak performance. Furthermore, make sure that you are anchoring yourself by setting boundaries for your work life and your home life. Your friends and family should be aware of your new career path, and not expect you to be available to them at all times. Finally, make the first 100 days of your start-up count! Make a new business resolution for yourself where you can resolve to stay totally focused on your course of action for those first one hundred days so that you don’t lose momentum. This takes very little time yet will be integral to your success.
Make sure to stay tuned for the second post in this series, where I will discuss stage 2 of start-up success: Running your own show.