The Funk

This morning I saw an interesting post on Hacker News – I’ve Lost Enthusiasm For My Startup.

This happens from time to time and it can come for a variety of places. The founder isnt’ happy with the culture. Or the product isn’t taking off as quickly as they had hoped. Or they are fearful of failure. Or there is something else going on in their personal life that has impacted their work life.

Whatever the reason, they are in a funk.

We all go through it. For founders is incredibly hard because as the author of the post states:

I find myself doing things for the startup out of obligation to the investors, who have been awesome.

And as result, it’s hard going to your board members or investors and saying you’ve lost that feeling or you don’t know what you are doing and you are going through a funk. Some investors will understand but many others (unfortunately and sadly) will take that information, forget the founder is a human and decide they are unfit to serve as CEO. 

(I once had a founder tell me 6 months after we financed the first round that they dont’ like any of their initial hires. He actually fired the first 4 employees and started over. That wasn’t easy for anyone but looking back it was clearly the right thing to do)

Even if they won’t do something like that it’s still hard to make that confession outloud. 

I don’t have a secret silver bullet on how to deal with the funk but I think it’s important to spend the time thinking about what is the cause. Is it work related or personal related? 

When I’m in a funk, I try to practice these four things:

1. Work out more

2. Eat better

3. And talk it through with my wife and my coach

4. Patience through the process

In startup land where everyone is hyping their startups and investments, it’s easy to get down on yourself from time to time. The first hard step is being honest with yourself and then take it from there. 

How do you deal with the funk?