If you are a startup founder, my firm belief is that you need a coach. Stat.
Why? Well, let me count the reasons… Being an entrepreneur is stressful, intensely so. When the going gets tough, as it inevitably does, to whom are you going to turn to express all your fears, hopes and frustrations? Your significant other? They can’t hear anymore. You will do nothing but inject fear and pessimism into the heart of the person whose support you most desire.
Speaking to an employee as a business confidante is another bad idea. Well-intentioned though you may both be, the CEO-level of transparency must stay beyond earshot of any employees, for reasons of conflict of interest and morale. You wouldn’t want the pilot of your plane to tell you that they’re secretly afraid you’re going to crash, would you?
Speaking to investors is admirable, but let’s be real, you’re human. It’s hard to be 100% honest with the person who’s entrusting you with their money and whose opinion you care deeply about. It’s just a completely normal human reaction to want to spin things for your investors, for the benefit of everyone’s morale.
Speaking to your friends becomes overbearing when all you talk about is your startup and your startup’s troubles. Either you are perceived to be blabbering on and on about first world problems or your friends’ recommendations aren’t what you’re looking for (you probably just want to vent and have no desire to hear any suggested solutions) or your friends really just don’t care to hear about all your crap, as they have enough to deal with themselves.
That’s why you need a coach — someone you pay to hear you talk about all your business crap. And there’s a lot of it. To steal a line from Thomas Hobbes, the life of a startup is nasty, brutish and short.
You need to be able to say the unsayable, you need to spit out articulations of your worst fears, you need to be able to express that you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, and you’re frustrated and scared. You need to be able to say your employees are incompetent and don’t care as much as you do.
You need to be able to say all of that and then throw it away. And then to recover and rebuild and get back to the business of kicking butt. And only someone you pay, who is outside of your company and outside of your social life, will listen to that and give you exactly what you need.
This may seem like the most self-serving post of all-time (I am a startup coach, after all), but I say it from the bottom of my heart with the deepest sincerity and a genuine concern for all entrepreneurs.
Talk to a coach. Stat.