When starting a business hurts: startup fears, depression and terror

Almost every entrepreneur I interview is familiar with startup fears. One entrepreneur I spoke to in June, who had quit his – very handsomely paid – job to start a company, told me:

I sometimes awake at night, panicking and asking myself WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?.

This week, one of my interviewees told me about the same thing. And then I saw a tweet with a quote from Ben Horowitz (you might know him as the ‘Horowitz’ part of ‘Andreessen Horowitz’) about the subject and I knew I had to ask you guys: what are your best insights in startup fears, depression and terror.

What is the best quote you’ve heard, YouTube movie, book, Tweet or Facebook update about the subject?

Tell us about startup fear using the hashtag #startupfears

Startup pain, depression & terror

When starting a business hurts: the best quotes, insights, tweets and photos. Send us e-mail at editor@whiteboardmag.com about how you deal with the bouts of euphoria and depression, with the terror that keeps you up at night and that screams at you: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Storified by Raf Weverbergh · Thu, Nov 08 2012 11:43:33

"As a startup CEO, I slept like a baby. I woke up every two hours & cried." – Ben Horowitz http://bit.ly/SPYKNDAlyson Shontell
A great quote on Whiteboard this week about this theme came from Marin Bek, a Croatian engineer who is trying to start a company to sell underwater robots to offshore companies. He told me:
“I’m terrified of the whole thing. It took me a while to figure it out – I didn’t know what I felt. I don’t scare easily. I jumped out of airplanes. But this is a whole other package. Then I realised: I’m frightened (laughs). Tomorrow, I have a Skype interview with an offshore guy about my project. Then I suddenly realise: my little vehicle should go down with a diver and SHOULD NOT KILL HIM while he’s undersea, you know?
You can read the article about Marin’s unmanned submarines vehicles here:
A great take on this can be found in a blog post by Jess Lee, founder of Polyvore. It’s probably the best explanation for the weird phenomenon that might be familiar to you: 

“Why Startup Founders are Always Unhappy”

Her explanation is that this is how success grows: 

And this is the corresponding happiness curve for points A and B: 
Her basic point being that it’s the feeling of growth that makes founders happy, and any deceleration is cause for deep unhappiness. 

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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