There is an excellent article posted on the Four Hour Workweek Blog discussing the manic depressive tendencies of entrepreneurs. It is really a great read and touches on a lot of what I have written here.
The article describes (and demonstrates graphically via a Transition Curve) the periods of mania (high energy, optimism) that entrepreneurs go through at different stages of their business’ life cycle, followed by periods of depression (and pessimism).
What leads to periods of depression?
In this article, depression or pessimism seems to be inevitable. Near the beginning of your business life cycle, where you start to market your product and you begin to experience the difficulties of finding the appropriate marketing mix, you will have a discouraging realization that success might be further off than you originally anticipated.
The more you experience these difficulties, the more pessimistic you can become. You can start doubting yourself and excessively worrying.
While I believe that having these discouraging realizations are inevitable, I also believe despairing, doubt and pessimism can be mitigated. The best thing to do at this stage is to take steps to combat doubt.
The important thing to keep in mind at these stages is that success may be more difficult than you had originally anticipated, but it is still within your reach. It may be more difficult and take longer to reach your goal, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still achieve it.
How to mitigate the effects of entering into the “Informed Pessimism” and “Crisis of Meaning” stages
Other than fighting doubt, researching early on and keeping yourself informed is a good thing. I feel that part of the problem that leads to depression is that entrepreneurs will cling to uninformed expectations for too long, and it will take them too long to become informed.
If you have an idea that gets you really excited, doing some market research on the idea right away may reduce some of the excitement, but you wont lose it entirely. However, you will also have a clearer picture of what to expect in the beginning. This way, you can plan for at least some trouble spots right away, lessening the effect of any discouraging realizations.
It might also not be a bad idea to set some milestones or goals that you hope to accomplish that are not directly related to revenues or profits.
Understand that profits will be practically non existent in the early stages, and sales may be just as difficult. Instead, using other milestones will help you stay motivated and you will remain encouraged that you are still making steps towards making consistent sales.
Remember, sales is always your ultimate goal, but defining and achieving small milestones that will eventually lead to making sales can keep you from being discouraged in the early stages.
Why is it important to always stay informed?
You want to know what you are getting into very early on so you don’t get too discouraged. However, it is also important to stay informed because having mania and high energy when uninformed can be dangerous and lead you to make poor and risky decisions.
The most important thing you should take away from this post and the Four Hour Workweek article is to make sure you research your business idea as soon as possible so you can make educated decisions and not have too many unpleasant surprises or difficulties.
Further, if you begin to doubt yourself or get too pessimistic, while this is normal, you should take active steps to combat doubt and try to remain positive.