Reflection on ‘The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship”

Recently published in Inc Magazine was a profound article: The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship by Jessica Bruder. What was interesting about this article is that the author touched up on things not understood by the majority of the people and the difficulties entrepreneurs face…sometimes life altering.

Jessica showcased to the world that Entrepreneurship can be psychologically damaging and that it takes a lot of mental strength to keep going on. The price paid for attempting the “dream” can be costly both personally and financially. There are been couple cases of suicide as well.

The part that struck me the most is this quote by Toby Thomas, “’It’s like a man riding a lion. People think, ‘This guy’s brave.’ And he’s thinking, ‘How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?’” It’s a part that resonates well with me because it may seem like I’m doing ok, living on my own and doing my own thing but the world outside doesn’t how much struggles we take on per day.

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Heck never mind living in another country and the cultural differences, the lack of family and a “home.” I don’t even know how long I can stay in Hong Kong with the high cost of living, the lack of Angel investment and the minor entrepreneurship spirit (There are entrepreneurs here but they still behave in the old Chinese conservative spirit). People expect you to be a leader, to be on the path to success but success does not come easy. I’m barely surviving at It Is (which I admit sometimes distracts you from thinking about the big things).

One of the commenter wrote, “Only those who have gone through this, entrepreneurship experience can understand this. Reality, which nobody admits in public. When you are struggling, you cannot admit your failures. Only when you become successful–in the eyes of the public, you may talk about whatever pains you have gone through.” I mean as an entrepreneur, how could anyone else, besides an entrepreneur, understand you? The struggles, the stress, and the clear uncertainty you face.

I’ve been depressed, overwhelmed to the point of burning out, some days I feel like just quitting and going back home however internally, the flame that keeps me going has not burned out yet; partly with the help of close friends that who are able to counsel me, cheer me on, and keep me going.

Today I’m speaking on this topic because I feel that writing and letting others know can be a great way to take some of the mental stress away (that and good sleep). I do encourage fellow entrepreneurs to share with the rest of the world, if not for themselves, to let out what you go through and give hope to others going through similar circumstance.

JM

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What you feel like the day after your demo day and the last social gathering

We killed it (again) at demo day! 😛

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We had the tough job of going first and we kicked it off to a good show. The rest of the cohorts did an amazing job as well. Of course, we had to have an afterparty and I want to thank those of you who came out and congratulated us. 

I also hope that the startup community got to feel that the bar can be higher for startups in Hong Kong and don’t settle for less. Great demo days can happen, great companies and great teams and I think we are just beginning to see startup talents coming to light.

Now that we have finished demo day and AcceleratorHK program, it does feel like weights have been lifted off my shoulder. I feel…happy and sad, both at the same time. Why? Imagine you are learning how to ride your bike for the first time. Without assistance, one would most likely fall down a lot, get bruises, and cuts but AcceleratorHK is like your parent putting training wheels on your bike. They stabilize you, guide you, and make sure you stay on the road and not ride to the dirt.

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But at some point, the training wheels have to come off. It’s sad because you are on your own but great because you know can ride by yourself and its up to you to choose where to go. I’ve come to think of the cohorts and Paul (dad) and Steve (mom) as our family. We have been through a lot, helped, criticized, and shared this journey together. Thank you 100village, Gonnect, PayAllies, Dynamino, and SurroundApp for this family trip.

When the program first started, I started to plan weekly dinner dubbed “Social Nights” every Thursday night where Steve and I came up with the cheering phrase Social for bumping drinks. We would often go eat at all you can eat or cheap local food since half of our team are not from Hong Kong then head out for a drink to blow stress away. Once a week, just social. I’m sorry to say that tonight will be the last AcceleratorHK Social for our group. Some people will leave the next day back to their home countries and since Chinese New Year is also starting Sunday, there may not be a lot of activities happening. 

What’s going to happen to my startup Taxiwise and us? Well its time to push the envelope higher, now that we have our training wheels off, its time to win the bike race. At some point in life, you get accustom to have support but know when you need to grow and be independent. But always remember to enjoy the bike ride. The journey is all worth it.

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What startup life feels like two days before demo day

Oh no! Demo Day is just two days away! Arg it feels like the world is about to end while it also feels like a new world is about to be born. Yes this conflicting is the result of months of preparations, anxiety, stress, happiness and expectations. 

Now, this isn’t actually my first demo day so I wasn’t as stressed as the first one. But the stakes and expectations are higher. One of my mentors told me that I could do better during an early rehearsal and that my last one was more fun. Oh boy…

One of the benefit of being in AcceleratorHK is that we have been practicing presentation for demo day since the first week so we are better prepared. It still is nerve racking when presenting but we have been critiqued to present better. The format will be different then most demo days as there will not be any Q&A, rather each team presents then we all go into our room where we serve an alcohol beverage of our home city to bring people to chat with us. 

Reading this post by Kyle Wild on How to write your demo day pitch has also been helpful. 

Its interesting because we are all anxious to get demo day over with and show everyone what we have been working on but its sad because we know the program ends on that day and our startup family will have to split apart. Some will go back home to their respective country and others like us will stay here in Hong Kong.

Stay tuned and if you haven’t, sign up for our demo day

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