Question: How do you personally deal with the pressures of getting your business off the ground, trying to sustain/grow, and the responsibility to do so for your investors and employees?

A friend asked me this question recently:

How do you personally deal with the pressures of getting your business off the ground, trying to sustain/grow, and the responsibility to do so for your investors and employees?

I think the most important aspect of pressure is how you deal with it. I certainly feel a responsibility to my team and my investors, but more importantly, to my family. But I don’t let the pressure cripple me. Instead, I use it to help me focus more and work harder smarter.

There have been points in my life when I felt great pressure and I think those times have helped me be able to deal with it more effectively today. Playing on a Division I college tennis team can bring all sorts of pressure. When you’re playing another team and the deciding match comes down to you, that’s pressure.

Early in my career, I felt tremendous pressure to succeed. And having over $90,000 in credit card debt in your name while your company continues to bleed cash can put all sorts of pressure on you. When the life of your business is week to week, it can be a heavy burden.

So I think my past experiences with pressure have led me to be able to deal with it better today. Here are some keys that I think help:

  • Focus very little time and energy on the past, particularly as it relates to mistakes you’ve made. Learn from the mistakes but if you dwell on them you can feel anxiety and begin to worry about making future mistakes. That can lead to overwhelming pressure not to mess up.
  • Delegate if you can. Spread out the responsibility to people you trust. Don’t put everything on your shoulders.
  • Get yourself a mentor or an advisory board. They can help relieve pressure in many ways: act as a sounding board, giving great advice, helping you through tough times, loaning money when needed, helping you avoid big mistakes, etc.
  • Surround yourself with positive influences and avoid the negative ones. Nothing’s going to make you feel more pressure than people around you telling you that you’re going to fail. You need people to be honest with you, but you don’t need negativity.
  • Keep it in perspective.

While pressure is an unavoidable part of life, use it as a force of good and not something that controls your life.


  1. Adam Roe on May 22, 2014 at 9:17 am

    This is a really good topic. Stress is one of the most overlooked aspects of running a business. The roller coaster of emotions is extreme from both the highs and lows. One outlet for managing stress, not mentioned, is with exercise. Keeping a regular routine of fitness helps to regulate pressure and keep focus. Hope this helps…

  2. Jeff Hilimire on May 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Great point, AR. Exercise can definitely help with stress and often times as people get stressed its the first thing to go. It’s something I need to personally be better about always making time for.

    So as someone running a growing and successful new business, what’s your routine for exercise? How and when do you do it and how do you stay committed?

  3. Dave on May 24, 2014 at 8:48 am

    As an entrepreneur I learned to love the highs and the lows. It is like riding a roller coaster. You can either fear the ride or look at it as an adventure and appreciate it for what it’s worth. Also, I like to challenge myself constantly by learning new things, seeking adventure, and taking myself out of my comfort zone. As by doing this, it helps prepare me for adversity, conquering new challenges and giving me the confidence that I will be able to overcome anything. Plus, I love to think I thrive under adversity, in the heat of battle. Instead of fearing failure embrace the challenge it presents. Anyone can be successful when things are going well but it is the winners that can thrive when the odds are against them or their chips are down!

  4. Jeff Hilimire on May 25, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Good stuff, Dave. I’m currently working on the balance between embracing the challenge and “roller coaster” aspect of a startup with needing to build the stability and infrastructure to attain long term success. Sometimes I think we entrepreneurs embrace the craziness so much that we forget to build a viable business ;)

  5. Dave on May 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I embrace the roller coaster but at the same time work on establishing laser focus. I have found operations are great once you find your niche but in the early stages to keep it very entrepreneurial and riding momentum and managing the highs and lows the best you can.

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