The first year as a startup founder

The first 365 days can be the most frightening.
by Yehia El Amine English YehiaAmine

23 April 2018 | 15:40

Source: by Annahar

One of the most exhilarating aspects of being an entrepreneur is making a plan and taking risks to grow the business. (Photo Courtesy of Antwork)

BEIRUT: In her first year as an entrepreneur, Aya Mansour grew her client list, got engaged, paid all the bills, and survived multiple highs and lows. Sound a bit intense? That’s just life. It’s always changing, and no matter how prepared people think they are, especially in business, there will always be a curveball.

Regardless of being a seasoned entrepreneur with several businesses or an ambitious young one departing on a first voyage, the first 365 days can be the most frightening.

Mansour, an AUB Psychology graduate, founded a startup called MindChild that allows parents to consult psychologists about their children’s problems and difficulties free of charge.

“I eclipsed that milestone for the first time just this year, and I can say it is every bit the roller coaster that other entrepreneurs describe,” Mansour told Annahar.

STRESS & RELATIONSHIPS

Launching a business, assessing market opportunities, aligning the right team and figuring out how to execute properly is challenging enough, according to Mansour; add the fear of the unknown and financial insecurity, and that creates a recipe for a heap of stress.

“While many people can handle this on their own when these stressors are not thoughtfully communicated with the people in your life that you care most about, another level of stress can overshadow your ventures and adversely impact your performance,” she said.

Mansour highlighted that no matter how busy an entrepreneur may become trying to work on their business, always make time for their spouse, children, family, and friends. “Your support system will be with you through thick and thin, which, any entrepreneur knows, can happen at any time,” she added.

DOUBT IS THE KILLER OF SUCCESS

One of the most exhilarating aspects of being an entrepreneur is making a plan and taking risks to grow the business. Taking risks also means that people are likely going to find themselves failing from time to time.

“This can affect your mental state and cause self-doubt,” she said.

However, entrepreneurs must not beat themselves up over failure.

“Consider that you're trying something new, and it's not like there is a clear course of action on how to become successful, reach your goals or even make yourself happy. Cut yourself some slack,” she explains.

She has found that the challenge of being an entrepreneur means that they must conquer themselves through mindfulness without becoming either overly confident or ridden with ego. “For me, this means regularly recognizing my accomplishments to build my confidence, but also making sure I keep myself in check,” the AUB graduate told Annahar.

When assessing accomplishments, one should understand that they don't need to be life-changing events to be valuable. “For example, think back to your first client or customer, or even back to the last time, someone hired you. They chose you. They believe in you. They trust you,” she said.

It's easy to be down when losing a client or a deal, have a bad quarter or miss one of the goals planned out. But entrepreneurs must reassess, recalling what they've been able to accomplish and overcome, to positively impact their personal perspective and business, too.

“Overcoming self-doubt will help you power through the rocky times as a business owner and help you reach your first-year marker and to go beyond,” Mansour explained.

GETTING A JOB AND HATING IT

When every entrepreneur says that there are going to be ups and downs, they're right. The challenge for most entrepreneurs is recognizing when they've reached a peak or whether they are in a valley.

“When you're down on your luck, scraping by financially, overly stressed, suffering from depression and self-doubt – or any one of the other screaming signs that you have fallen to a low point – it's very tempting to run for the hills and go back to working full time,” she said.

This is not what’s wanted.

Mansour recently experienced this scenario.

Coming up on the one-year mark, her startup’s clientele was intermittent. “We always seemed just to make ends meet. But that doesn't mean the fear of failure wasn't looming,” Mansour explained.

During this period, she began interviewing for a handful of companies and even had an exceptional offer for an executive marketing position, when suddenly business picked up.

On one hand, all of the financial concerns would be behind her.

“I could afford my wedding and I could begin planning my family. On the other hand, after a new market position, the business completely turned around, but more importantly, I was the happiest I had ever been,” Mansour highlighted.

Admittedly, this was one of the most challenging decisions she has ever made, but Mansour listened to her gut and turned down the offer. “I feel that so much of being a successful entrepreneur comes down to grit and resilience, and to follow your intuition when the path ahead is unclear. You must do what others are unwilling to do,” she expressed.

“The truth is, you never know what's going to happen and you'd likely be capable of living on less money than you think – so why not take a chance and live the life you really desire?” Mansour asked.



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