Entrepreneurial Marathon

Hi, I’m Eric, founder & CEO of Amari, a new supplement company that provides active lifestyle consumers with convenient, effective products that help them to play longer and recover faster.

We have started posting to LinkedIn about our experience launching a company and a product in the times of COVID.  Our goal is to share what learn in the hopes that you will find it helpful as you navigate these unprecedented times.   

The entrepreneur has achieved hero status in our culture. They are often portrayed as a solo individual who overcame insurmountable odds to achieve personal and financial success. Often times these stories are compressed, unfolding like the hero entrepreneur has accomplished wild success overnight. 

Others post hustle porn highlighting how they are running on 3-4 hours of sleep per night for weeks on end. 

Running yourself into the ground has never made sense to us.  If you are tired and stressed you are not making the best decisions for yourself, the company and may be counterproductive to what you’re trying to accomplish.

More often than not, the journey to success is measured in many, many years with enormous periods of uncertainty.  The entrepreneur has endured the dizzying ups and lowest of the downs typically for 5+ years and in some cases decades. How do they do that? They cultivate and develop a personal support infrastructure.

The first observation is that the support infrastructure is different for each person. It’s an individual reflection of their needs, strengths and areas where they need support.  If you are actively involved in running a start-up, then you already know, it is a marathon that feels like a sprint.  A physical, emotional and financial marathon.

To set yourself up for success from day one, you will need to think about the type and form of support specifically tailored to your situation.  We’ll share what has been helpful for us, but ultimately this is up to you to decide as we face new stress in our work & personal lives from the impact COVID is having on our society and the people close to us.   

One of the first key pieces is to understand how you process stress.  Every entrepreneur feels pressure as decisions are made every day with imperfect information and there will be times when you have to push hard to meet customer and stakeholder expectations.  Reed Hastings had a quote that stuck with us, “Fires will be burning as you go home.”  This is one area that took work on our part, but you have to be OK with leaving issues until the next day.  Our to-do list is a mile long and the items getting added usually outpace our ability to chip them off of the list.  Understanding what to focus on and where you can get the most leverage is a good way to prioritize your time and focus.  It also helps keep you sane and reduces the number of nights we’ve spent looking at the ceiling.  If you are having trouble with this at the end of the day, think about 3-4 items you did accomplish and do not focus on what you didn’t get accomplished.  That list is always long and growing longer if you are entrepreneur. 

Another key piece that has helped us over the years and requires some maturity, is to know and be honest with yourself.

For me, I’m not a morning person. I’ve tried it, it’s just not my thing. I know there’s a lot of material out there about how many successful people get up at 5:30 AM.  Great, if it works for you then do it!  I’d rather get up at 7:30, chip off some of the reading I’ve been meaning to do (sometimes work related, larger macro-economic issues, exploring new software, video I’ve been meaning to watch, etc…) while I drink my coffee.  I’m settled in and focused on a work task, ideally not email, by 8:30 AM -9AM.   I usually take a break mid-day to exercise which is typically yoga and/or taking my dog for a walk.

Some days I use the exercise time to let my mind wander and be creative and other times I focus on a challenge or issue and see if the solution presents itself. Other days I use the time walking for phone calls to reconnect with old friends, check in with business partners or family members.

My routine changes depending on the season.  In the summer, the nicest part of the day is the early side of the AM.  I’ll go for our walk then and flip it to the later afternoon in fall & winter when it is the warmer part of the day. 

One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is that you control your calendar.  It might not feel like it, but you do.  Leverage this unique ability to your advantage and plan your schedule accordingly so it matches your style and plays to your strengths. 

As an example of leveraging the calendar, I typically work until 10pm or 11pm at night.  I understand what I am trying to accomplish and can adjust accordingly if my wife and I would like to make other plans.  If you have a day or two of warning it is typically pretty easy to manage and make sure we are maintaining the family time.  Use a shared calendar with your family to make this easy.     

Now I can maintain this pace of long days for about 5 to 6 weeks (this is how I know I love what I do) before I take a day off, but that is just me. I try and stay aware of my personal trigger points for when I know I need to take a break. It’s things like getting angry easily, feeling stressed out, lacking creativity or missing my zest for the startup. 

Through awareness and taking the time to recharge the batteries, entrepreneurs can become better leaders, make better decisions and provide a path to management longevity.

My background
Prior to Amari, I spent 10+ years working with early stage CPG companies and commercializing technology from a University setting.  We leveraged a community-based model that put the best domain experts in the room with our client companies.  I was fortunate enough to learn from those experiences and now apply those lessons as an operator.  Eric at AmariBotanicals.com

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