“Dude. Go the gym!” is what one of my partners told one of our founders recently. He was stressed out closing a funding round and had dropped his usual routine, but the extra time didn’t help. In fact not going to the gym made things worse.

It’s easy for founders to get immersed in their businesses and not look after themselves. I was close to one company where that happened earlier this year and it was terrible. Bad for the founder and bad for the company. Bad enough that we are thinking about how we can add life coaching to the package of support we offer to our portfolio companies.

A couple of days ago Steve Blank wrote about his personal experiences with burn out. He was working hard and doing well, and the praise made him work harder still. And then he crashed. Here are his lessons learned:

  • No one will tell you to work fewer hours
  • You need to be responsible for your own health and happiness
  • Burnout sneaks up on you
  • Burnout is self-induced. You created it and own it.
  • Recovery takes an awareness of what happened and…
  • A plan to change the situation that got you there

Great advice. That said, I think you can find people to tell you when you are frazzled and should slow down a little. Husbands and wives can do that if you bring them into your startup journey. Mentors can also be a great help.

  • Very timely article. Just like most other tech entrepreneurs I used to work long hours. Even though I have gym membership, I found no enjoyment of going there. Then I ended up supporting (we provided live tracking and LiveStax) a charity cycling event organised by Rugby Legend, Lawrence Dallaglio. Thought of giving cycling a chance, after speaking to many Riders. Bought a bike last month and have really enjoyed riding on roads discovering the Cheshire country side. Downside is it does take time, and could get you into the dog house for spoiling weekend shopping trips! Lesson is you got to find a way to chill out and get some exercise, doing something you love. Gym isn’t for everyone!

  • Hi Manoj – totally. Different things work for different people. The key is to get some downtime. Glad it’s working out for you.