Startups: 6 Tips for Winning the Mental Battle

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You started your company for a reason -- a reason you believe in 125 percent. But that doesn’t make it any less hard.

By Jody Porowski (Founder & CEO, Avelist)

Starting a company is hard. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Here are six tips to help you win the psychological battle of entrepreneurship.

1. Celebrate the Small Wins

You're going to fail a lot when you start a company. In fact, you will probably experience failure and rejection on a daily basis. This is why you need to celebrate the small wins along the way.

Do you know more today than you knew yesterday? Do you stress about different things now than you did in the beginning? Have you made more connections, been published in a magazine, raised any funding, found a good designer, finished your prototype? Did you gain a new customer or read an article that validates your vision? Any and all of these things are a win. Acknowledge your accomplishments.

2. Find Community

You might feel alone. And you know what? A lot of times you might really be alone because quite frankly that's part of your job description. However, while you certainly are the only one who knows your exact situation, there are hundreds and thousands of other entrepreneurs in the world who are going through similar situations.

Find them. Read their blogs and their books. Connect with them on Twitter. Join them at meet ups. Whatever it takes, talk to people who are currently in your situation and people who have been in your situation before. It will help.

3. Help Others

When you're swamped with your own busy schedule, it's easy to focus solely on yourself. I've found that being kind to others helps me regain focus. I'm not talking about taking hours and hours out of your day. You don't have much time to spare. But kindness can come in small doses and it makes you feel good.

Take a 10-minute phone call with an aspiring entrepreneur. Make time to smile at the grocery store cashier. Congratulate another business owner on an article you read about them. Kindness is a habit. Cultivate it. It will benefit you and those around you in ways you won't even realize.

4. Stay Calm

One of my favorite quotes comes from Paul DeJoe in this Quora post. He says the following about being the CEO of a startup: "You start to respect the Duck. Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. You learn the hard way that if you lose your cool you lose."

This is so true! You are running around in circles and tasked with more things than you have hours to finish, yet you have to remain poised and confident because you're the face of the company. Sometimes you will feel like freaking out. You will have moments of pure panic, sheer terror and possibly blind anger.

In these times, stay calm. Think rationally. Take a step back and think about how you SHOULD act in this situation. For the good of your company, do the right thing, make the right decision.

5. Remember the Facts

Here's the deal: You started your company for a reason. You clearly believe in the vision. But along the startup journey you're going to be rejected. You'll have people tell you it's a bad idea. You'll have people say that the challenges are too great. You'll have team members leave. You'll have funding fall through. You'll be ignored by journalists and the successful entrepreneur that you idolize.

Startups are hard. Duh! If they weren't, a lot more people would be entrepreneurs. I highly suggest making a list of reasons why you believe in your company. Put it next to your bed, nail it to your wall, save it on your phone. Look back on this list when you're discouraged.

Because if you can't believe in your company, who will? You need to be willing to fight for your idea when no one else will.

6. Picture a Successful Ending

I was talking to the tech lead of a very successful corporation and this is the advice he gave me:  EXPECT SUCCESS. I love this concept! Sure, you need to prep for the worst but you need to plan on the best. You have to believe that you will win. You have to picture yourself coming out on the other side.

Seriously. Dream about it. Fantasize about it. I've heard this is how POWs survive torture. They imagine their life after it's over. They believe they will live to see a day of freedom -- and ironically that belief is what gets them to that day.

This post originally appeared on Avelist. Photo courtesy of Jody Porowski 

What other tips do you have for new startup founders?


About the guest blogger: Jody Porowski is the Founder & CEO of Avelist, a platform that crowd sources other people's knowledge and experience to save you time and give you guidance. Follow Jody on Twitter @JodyPorowski and check out her company at www.avelist.com