There’s not a day that goes by without an entrepreneur reaching out to me fairly stressed – about investors, raising a round, getting customers or hiring people. I have written before about the 3 biggest causes of stress for entrepreneurs.
I highlighted that the #1 was one of “expectations” – from peers, employees, family, etc.
At that time another issue that folks raised was one of “work-life” balance as an entrepreneur. I tend to gloss over – primarily because I believe that if you wanted the balance and it was important to you, there would be other things you’d be doing.
In the last year, thought I am noticing that “Keeping up with the Unicorns” is becoming a bigger source of stress than anything else.
I could easily dismiss this as well – there will always be startups better than you, and there will be startups worse than you, so focus on your work alone.
That, though, is a big disservice.
It is hard not to “compare” yourself to others, because the “market” for funding and financing is what you are going up against.
When you approach an investor, they have limited time and maybe limited energy to spend on due diligence, understanding and working on your company.
They evaluate this against working on another company that’s not necessarily your “direct or indirect” competitor, but another deal they can do.
Which means, you are going up against consumer Internet companies, Marketplaces, eCommerce companies, even if you are a SaaS company.
That’s the job #1.
You are trying to make your opportunity the most attractive for the investor to spend time and effort on.
So that means you are really “competing” against other startups, not only your competitors.
Which is what causes you to “Keep up with the Unicorns”.
Meaning, if you want to get investor attention – which will go to their perception of the biggest and best opportunities, then you have to “compare yourself to others” in the funding market.
That’s the cause of stress.
I don’t really have a great answer to how not to stress about it, except, it is not worth stressing about.
I’d like to say focus on good execution and telling a great story.
That’s pithy though.
The trick I have seen the best entrepreneurs do is to be very selective on the investors they choose to pitch to – based on their background, their knowledge of the space and their ability to add a lot of value.
That means more homework on your part to find, source, identify, engage and then active the right investors.
That’s the best way to relive stress – much better preparation.