The psychological impact of entrepreneurship

Next month, I’m flying over to Dublin to speak at the fantastic SaaStock conference. Here’s a flavour of what I’m going to be talking about.

When I take the stage at SaaStock in Dublin next month, I know there will be a lot of contrasting feelings going through my mind. On the one hand, I’m over the moon at the opportunity that Alex (SaaStock’s Founder) has given me to talk about a subject I’m passionate about; the psychological impact of entrepreneurship. On the other hand, I have memories of a different time in my life when things were not going so well. Let me explain.

SaaStock memories

I attended my first SaaStock conference in Dublin in 2017, soon after founding Sales Confidence. I was completely inspired by the quality of the attendees and the spirit of the event. I took a lot of what I saw and adapted it for the events I put on at Sales Confidence and SaaSGrowth. I was also captivated by Dublin, the afterparties and the Guinness! It was a terrific place to hold a conference, that’s for sure.

I attended again last year for SaaStock 2018 and it was a game-changer for my business. Unfortunately and not something I’m super-happy to be sharing was that not long after SaaStock, I found myself back in a mental health hospital due to an unexpected combination of life and professional stresses.

So when I get to SaaStock 2019, I want to talk about how I now support myself through the process of entrepreneurship. I have a history of depressive and manic episodes, but I also have a history of making full recoveries and functioning at the top level. The fragility is always there, but I work hard to manage it. The first step is self-awareness.

The drive for success

Social media is undoubtedly a positive development in the history of how we communicate. It’s impacted the lives of millions of people. However, it’s a constant reminder of where you are in the pecking order, which can be hard to deal with.

Next time you go on LinkedIn, Instagram or any other social network, what do you see? For me, it’s daily updates of (apparent) success:

  • Someone’s raised $50 million of VC funding
  • Someone else has just bought their first million-pound property
  • Someone’s hit the $10 million ARR milestone

Assuming they’re telling us the truth, reading updates like this can be inspiring. After all, it makes success accessible. If they can do it, so can I.

But it’s not reality. We only see the end results. We do not see the years of struggle and hard graft that they went through to get there. We all have to make sacrifices to achieve success.

What matters most?

I always try to be honest in my articles and posts and I’ll be honest now. I used to be like these people I see on social media. For a very long time, I was very attached to the outcomes, rather than the process.

I was thrilled about being the number one social seller in the world on LinkedIn. I was attached to achieving 120% of my annual target and earning six-figures by the age of 25. I was all about nice watches, cars and clothes. It was pure vanity.

What I know now is that none of that matters when you’re in a mental hospital. No level of success is worth sacrificing your physical or mental health.

My one thing

So, when I get to Dublin next month, you can be sure I’ll take a moment to think about the things that have happened to me since last year.

What I really want to tell anyone who comes to see my talk is this: Enjoy your life, find pleasure where you can, but never put anything above your health and wellbeing.

If you’re going to Dublin for SaaStock this year, make sure you come and say hello. Hopefully, we can even share a pint or two of the black stuff.

Sláinte!

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