(c) South Africa Institute of Chartered Accountants. Contact SAICA for permission to reproduce this article., Strategic Management

The dark side of entrepreneurship: The emotional roller-coaster

By Travor Gosling CA(SA)

The entrepreneurial success stories that come out of Silicon Valley could give the man in the street the impression that it’s easy to build a company, raise capital and successfully exit your venture where after you move onto the next conquest. The reality is basically the opposite though.

Ideas are easy, and everyone has them. Without execution, ideas are just thoughts in your head that never see the light of day. So, with execution being everything, why is it so difficult to accomplish the end goal? It’s because, more than anything, entrepreneurship is a game of mental toughness that tests a person on every level.

Personally, I’ve always worked with the mindset of breaking my end goal into achievable short-term goals knowing that as those milestones are achieved, so the complete picture for the business will take shape. However, I’ve also found that achieving those short-term goals is met by short-lived highs and followed by gut-wrenching lows as a new reality sets in. Kind of like an emotional roller-coaster! Examples of this are the high you’re on when your product is finally ready for launch, which quickly translates to a low as you realise now you need to start selling and figure out if there really is a market out there. Or the high you get after you’ve raised funding and then realise now you need to start hitting targets otherwise you’re in a world of pain with your investors. Or even the high you get when you hit your quarterly target only to realise you need to show 50% growth for the following quarter.

After six years of entrepreneurship, a few pivots, a number of funding raises and a successful exit, I’ve come to realise that managing the mental side of execution is the most important.

Celebrate your victories and don’t let your mind wonder too much onto the next milestone rather keeping in mind that if you continue to execute on the short-term goals your vision will come together.

And hey, if you’ve put in the work, shown patience and tried everything possible to make your venture succeed and it doesn’t, don’t take it personally – there’s far more to you than just your business.

Trevor Gosling CA(SA) is Co-founder & CEO of Lulalend. Trevor was also a 2015 Top 35 Finalist.