Where do entrepreneurs go to talk about their problems

I hope readers of this blog would understand that I sometimes found it difficult to hear how well other start-ups were doing. I was of course envious and jealous of how various entrepreneurs had managed to navigate the pitfalls for new businesses while we were flailing with our lassis

As a result, it was hugely refreshing when Jo and I would meet with another small business owner who was happy to speak about the trials and tribulations of running their start-up. To talk openly about such things was such a rarity, as almost every start-up was obsessed about projecting a positive and successful image. To do otherwise was virtually a disservice of what it was to be an entrepreneur; “successful entrepreneurs don’t complain or gripe about their problems”, I could almost hear people saying. Yet, as mentioned on previous occasions in this blog, this has created somewhat of a false reality, where the feeling of failure is only amplified.

So having the chance to speak with someone who was having a similar experience, was like a pressure valve being released. I remember we met an Australian entrepreneur who had set up a yoghurt business and from an outside point of view she was very successful, being stocked in several supermarkets within Australia. Yet, she was very candid about the difficulties she’d had. This included a time when a batch of her products was sent out after being “double stamped” (when the “use by” date is stamped twice onto the packaging). This had meant all her products having to be recalled. She also spoke about how lonely it was to be running an entire company and having so much more at stake than anyone else.

People say that bottling up one’s emotions is unhealthy, though how is it any better when start-up businesses are compelled to keep up a pretence that everything is going great. Being able to air our troubles and share experiences is hugely helpful. Lessons can be learnt quickly after hearing of the mistakes of others, and there is a sense of relief when you know that not everyone else is doing well. However, there is no such forum or safe space for entrepreneurs to talk about their problems. Instead, start-up businesses will continue to suffer in silence while telling everyone else that things are swell.

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