Entrepreneurship and Life

I am lost.  I quit a highing paying cushy job about a year ago.  Working on a pivot with my cofounder, which I am hoping, based on customer feedback, will make our startup generate revenue exponentially.  But, when you are an entreprenuer, life does not cut you any slack.  Finances are dwindling.  My parents are living with us for a few months.  I am helping my dad deal with an eye illness and taking him for doctor visits.  My mariage might fall apart becuase of various reasons.  My wife’s uncle (and godfather) is on his death bed suffering from a ravenous cancer.  I am being audited by the IRS for previous startup costs, which I am not too worried about, but it still takes time and energy to prepare all the paper work.  I recently got diagnosed with a tumor, which I am hoping to bengin.  I also have a surgeon visit soon to diagnose a sport hernia, which he can probably only diagnose with laparoscopic surgery.  I cannot even go for my beloved long runs to release some stress.

All of this developed in a matter of weeks. The only thing that keeps me going is the potential success of  my startup. It has been my escape to just to focus on working hard and not worry about anything else.  Other times, when I sit down to work, I just stare at my computer screen, held back by all the things happening in my life. Sometimes, as any other entrepreneur does, I do contemplate the what if’s. What if I did not leave my job and still had a high salary? Would my life be better? Would my marriage be better? The way I have come to terms with the situation is that life is life. Just like a cliche, you just have to keep struggling though it in hope of seeing that light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Honestly, while this is one of the more intense problems that I have heard an entrepreneur face, you need to realize that not many people take the risks that you have because they are scared. You’ve decided that you don’t want to work for someone else and that you don’t want to fill up more space in the status quo. This is something you should always look at. No one’s life is perfect, and no one is going to honestly care about you after you’re dead. In the grand scheme of things you’re just another speck of dust in all of time. Look at these realistic thoughts and make decisions based on those ideas. Life is too short to worry – just give it your best and you’ll definitely succeed.

    And just keep this in your head – what entrepreneur HASN’T struggled to get to where he/she is today? Success is how much work you put into it. So keep working.

    • What a thoughtless comment to say no one will care about him when he dies. I mean, beyond thoughtless.

      As to the issue at hand, the what if ship has sailed. It’s full of people who have never done anything they wanted to do out of fear. Glad you missed it. Anyway, you are going through a lot, but I think you are asking the wrong question. The events would have happened with the high paying job or not. Can you honestly say there were no cracks in your marriage before the startup? I doubt it. However, I think you are focusing on the wrong thing really. There will be no startup if you are not healthy, so first order of business is to get yourself well. I understand that ability to focus on something else while things outside of your control are going haywire, but make sure that you are focusing on getting healthy. Did you note I did say the things going on are outside of your control. Note that well. You can be there for your wife and her dad, but what is going on is outside of your control. Cancer sucks for a reason. Either way, none of this has to do with you leaving your job, and clearly, you want to build something, so go for it, though I have to wonder why you didn’t do it on the side until you had tested it out? Don’t listen to the Silicon Hype which does not tell the realities of why you should keep your day job, if you get another one, until there is money.

  • I think you’ve got the right of it. Some weeks are really bad, some weeks are really good. I think you just have to trust that this too shall pass, and if it helps, always remember that there’s a nice paying job waiting for you. It’s fine to take some time to process your life, reconnect with your wife, give yourself a chance to recover. Your work will end up better for it.

  • Author Update – Tumor benign. Marriage ending, I was living a lie for 9 years. Should have ended 4 years ago. Hernia surgery planned this week, should be quick. Development on track. Should be selling in the next 2-3 weeks. Wish me well! Heart aching from losing my best friend and spouse but I also feel a heavy mountain of heart ache and struggle has been lifted off my shoulder.

    End game is “Sell a few subscriptions and raise money or partner with someone in our field to open more doors for us than a VC would, sell company or keep running it and finally be happy at what I do. Make more money, surf, run and get more involved in non-profits.” Help other entrepreneurs with life’s struggles, especially younger ones who do not know what’s in store for them.

  • My advice would be to not let work get in the way of family, I know this is against the grain here, but family/marriage is more important than business – period.

    Second, I can see leaving a job if you don’t like it, but many entrepreneurs really need to examine themselves as to why they really want to work for themselves, is it because of rebellion to corp culture – boredom, or is it really because you want to start a biz – you can challenge yourself in other ways besides a startup. You can have a high paying job and start a business, so you don’t have to eat PBNJ sandwiches and live in a friends basement. I did it – never had ramen noodles for dinner. Wish you the best!

  • When I read your post and the subsequent replies, I am amazed that most people have these automatic, thoughtless answers and also lack any type of empathy. First, I totally feel for your situation. I can imagine you start out hopeful, but then a number of things happen, which makes life appear really dark. In fact, so dark you can’t imagine seeing the light. I have never started a company, but I have close friends that do. I can sense that they can never truly be honest with me about how they are feeling (anxious, depressed) because that means (a) they need to be honest with themselves and that’s scary (b) or feel they always need to put up a front (which means feeling lonely). Separately, if they only person you can talk to is your spouse, then the pressure and daily negative energy starts to corrode what should be a great thing in your life.

    Well, I can say that I really feel for you since I have gone through painful breakups and you definitely feel lonely afterwards. Esp if its a spouse. Maybe you have old friends you can reach out to (some can actually be understanding)? If you feel depressed, it’s natural, but generally, if you care about your long term mental health, try seeking company, whether it’s old friends or just new friends (meet-ups, sports). I think this helps a lot. While work can be an obsession, try to break away to seek solace in your own immediate family (mom, dad?) or a sport/non-work hobby.

    Sometimes, getting just a little distance from work can help. What I realized in my late 20’s, after the web 1.0 bust was that my startup wasn’t worth the sacrifice of my close relationships (gf) and realized like anything else, I needed to invest in healthy ways (time, energy, thoughtfulness) into those things as well as work. I’m still struggling with that since work can be an obsession, but I try to remind myself everyone how important my family relationships are….as I’ve gotten older, I care more and more about family….which probably would make me a shitty entrepreneur, but I suppose I’m ok with that trade off nowadays.

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