What’s the best way to deal with the first crisis as a founder?
Throughout the whole journey of founding a company, it is important to remember: As a founder, I’m developing something new and creative. The path to my goal has never been trodden before. I have to be prepared to take a wrong turn or make detours. It’s okay and even can be beneficial for me to make mistakes. Internalizing this perspective takes off some parts of the pressure and fear. Founders need to be prepared to accept that their path will not be lineal and every setback will teach them to find the right way.
How can I learn from a crisis and improve for the future?
I’m a big fan of the idea to “fail forward”. I don’t see my mistakes as steps backwards but as progress. Even if a mistake causes additional work, it always drives you forward. When you have an idea of a product or a service you want to develop there is nobody that can tell you how it should be done. And mistakes are the best way to learn fast and efficiently. The earlier you fail the faster you’ll learn.
Seeing the bigger picture can also help to put things into perspective. Where do I want to stand in one three or 10 years? Where is this single crisis located on my way to the goal? Mistakes are the most normal thing in the creative startup industry, and looking back, every crisis is important for something. Also, the fear of others’ reactions is often worse than the situation itself.
How does one overcome this fear though? Any tips?
In hindsight, a crisis usually seems to be insignificant. If you are able to put yourself into this perspective and see it from the distance the situation becomes easier to overcome or at least gives you the confidence to do so and releases the fear of dealing with it. It also helps to keep judgments and opinions of others away and focus on your goals.
Also sharing your mistakes with others can be a real game changer here. No founder will tell you that he has never made any mistakes or had to deal with setbacks. Most of the successful entrepreneurs learned to speak about and accept their mistakes. But not only do they speak about them, they are also fast in learning from them. Embracing your failures and mistakes openly will also create a positive company culture based on trust and respect.
Joscha Hofferbert’s Top 3 Tips for Founders to Better Handle Stress and Pressure:
To keep an eye on your stress level, you can incorporate a two-week check-in with close friends or relatives from the outside. Ask your friends, parents, partner, co-founders or employees to give feedback on your behavior and give it a try.
During monthly “fuck-up days”, each team member can talk about the mistakes they made last month. It sounds simple but is difficult for beginners. You have to learn to own up to your mistakes. Saying, “I totally screwed up that meeting”, or “That customer slipped through my fingers”, helps you to de-taboo mistakes. You will feel liberated afterwards, and others will start to feel that they can also share their mistakes and lessons learned.
Don’t compare your startup to other startups or yourself to other founders. Other companies may be making different progress, but they also have different conditions. This never means that one is better than the other. But you should still learn from each other.
About Joscha Hofferbert
Joscha Hofferbert holds a degree in psychology and neuroscience from the University of Heidelberg and has 7 years of experience in the innovation and healthcare industry. He has co-founded the startup incubator Vision Health Pioneers, supporting healthcare innovators in the early-stage in developing their product and founding a company, and is the co-founder of Hacking Health Berlin, connecting innovators and healthcare experts to develop innovation.
Would you like to learn more about coping with stress as an entrepreneur? Check out the first part of our interview with Joscha Hofferbert.