Hey founders, get yourself some breathing space
Working smarter, not harder, is simpler when you know how. But it's not easy. You need new skills, new ideas and the company of other founders bouncing along the same rocky road as you.
It’s November already and you’re probably wondering how yet another year has managed to sneak by so quickly and panicking slightly that there’s a new one waiting to ambush you just around the corner.
Over the years, I’ve learnt to settle that panic (slightly) by making this a month for self-reflection; appreciating what went right, acknowledging what went wrong, and recalibrating for the challenges ahead rather than just steaming into the new year with everything on repeat.
As 2022 comes to a close, it’s a great time for you, as a founder, to step back and take stock, jettisoning the myths surrounding the startup world and giving yourself some space to breathe.
“One of the best things I did this year. A great group of people, real talk and so much pragmatic compassion.” Mina Radhakrishnan, Co-founder, Different.
It’s a time to leave the money and metrics to themselves for just a moment and focus on you, so that you can start 2023 fully energised and ready to continue building your business in a way that is satisfying, sustainable and compatible with real life.
After all, being a founder is not the whole you; it’s just one part of who you are, and success in business shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice everything else that is important to you in life.
Jordy Kay, Co-founder of Great Wrap swaps notes with Jim Fader, Founder of Eden Brew.
I once blew up a well-earned, well-planned six-week family holiday with my wife and kids for the sake of my business and spent that time on the other side of the world, living and working from a hotel room instead of being with them.
It was a choice, not a prison sentence, so I’m not whining, and the business result was a brilliant one. But was it the best choice? Honestly, no. What signal had I sent and what example had I set for my family? It is one of the sacrifices I wish I’d never made, and I grew to resent the business because of it.
Just how much are you prepared to sacrifice for the success of your company?
Research has shown that the real reason startups fall over and fail is because their founders stumble, fall over and fail.
I recently re-read a report by CB Insights about their analysis of over 110 failed startups. It named burnout as one of the top 12 reasons for startup failure, and looking at the other 11, you can see founder fatigue and burnout lurking behind almost all of them.
Burnout is the spectacular consequence of a lack of self-care.
The enormous pressures of founding a company can trigger huge stress and anxiety, especially when you are working within a volatile economic climate.
And the truth is that even before you make it to total burnout, ignoring your wellbeing is likely to push you towards making poor decisions, developing a hair trigger, and becoming a fully-fledged stress factory, or worse.
Building new relationships between founders makes everyone stronger.
Funding, team building, and leadership challenges can become overwhelming, and not having a safe space or psychological support can exacerbate things and draw struggling founders deeper into feelings of inadequacy and depression, affecting not only their businesses but their whole lives.
We’ve all seen it happen. But trading off fundamentals like wellbeing, relationships, or joy to achieve your business ambitions is not the only way – in fact, it is really no way at all.
There’s a much smarter strategy!
Taking time to reflect on how professional and personal success are interdependent is fundamental to both.
Recalibrating your perspective and putting self-awareness and self-care at the forefront of your life strategy means building a solid foundation for long-term, sustainable success on every level.
Always room for laughs.
Understanding that it’s not just your company that is a work in progress but that you, too, are constantly evolving and improving will help you create a balanced work-life environment, giving you and your team the best chance to build a brilliant business without burning out.
Remember, you are not a machine!
Don’t go it alone
At Upside, we recognise that founder wellbeing is an essential element of startup success and that as a founder, your wellbeing depends on a sense of self-worth, a sense of community, and on having the tools and knowledge you need to care for yourself in ways that tangibly impact your business.
We believe that in life and in business, the journey itself is the destination and that surrounding yourself with travelling buddies who share your sense of purpose and can relate to the many experiences you have along the way is a sure way to find a renewed sense of joy and positivity on your particular journey.
So much to share and learn from each other.
Our mission is to put founders first, helping them help themselves as they work to make the world a better and brighter place.
Apply for Upside Founder Programs 2023
Our programs create a safe space where founders can take a step back, draw breath and (re)connect with their best selves.
Upside is a safe place to discover new ideas and perspectives, make meaningful connections, and learn new skills.
Come along, find your people, share stories, laugh together, and get curious about stuff.
At Upside, we put you, the founder, first. Isn’t it time you did, too?
We’re all a work in progress.
Upside Founder Programs help founders become the very best leaders for their businesses as they grow from pre Series A to Series B, and beyond. Apply to be part of Upside 2023 now.
Upside Founder Programs is proudly supported by KPMG High Growth Ventures.