Stress, It Does a Body Good

stress

It’s been roughly ten years since I started my entrepreneurial journey. There were definitely good times as well as the bad times, when I felt like ripping my hair out. However, looking back to when I first started, even though I made a ton of mistakes, for some reason they always steered me in the right direction.

Now, you could say that it’s because I am persistent, but I don’t think this is the real reason for my success. Scrappiness is another quality that people believe I have, but, again, I don’t think that’s what got me to where I am either.

So, how the heck did I get to where I am today?

Stress! That’s right, I stress out like crazy. Obviously, I’m not the only entrepreneur on the planet who stresses out. In fact, if you are an entrepreneur and don’t stress out, I’d say something is wrong with you. At the same time, even though there isn’t anything unique about “stress” in and of itself, the skill that helped me get to where I am today was my ability to manage that stress.

People often think that the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is putting in sixty or even eighty hours of work a week, which isn’t true. Anyone can work hard for a longer period time, but very few people can handle all the stress that comes along with entrepreneurship.

And yes, I know what you are thinking. You’re the one putting the pressure on yourself. You don’t have to be one of those stressed out entrepreneurs if you don’t want to.

You are right! You don’t have to be stressed out, but living a stress-free life won’t make you wealthy.

Man up

I hate to be harsh, but your entrepreneurial journey is never going to be perfect. Just like with anything else in life, there will be good times and bad times. “Everything is hard before it becomes easy.”

If you are not pushing the boundaries, you are not growing your business fast enough. And when you push the boundaries and start walking that fine line, you’ll probably end up making mistakes and experience problems you would have never imagined.

For example, over the past ten years, I’ve dealt with:

I could probably keep going and list another hundred stressful moments from my life, but I think you get where I’m going with this. I am not trying to make you feel bad for me. I simply want you to understand why those stressful moments pushed me to the next level.

In order to take yourself to the next level, you must begin to feel uncomfortable. If I didn’t step out of my comfort zone by adding all that stress to my life, I would have never taken any of those risks and probably would have wound up working for a company like Microsoft making a $120,000 salary. It’s definitely not the worst gig to have, but I believe I made the better choice.

If you too want to be a successful entrepreneur, you will need to make a shift in your mindset. You can’t be wasting your time whining about doing things like laying off your employees and cutting budgets. Keep your chin up, understand that the stress is part of the process and deal with it.

If you can’t cope with the stress, then you are not cut out to be an entrepreneur.

You can reduce your stress

Since you now understand the benefits of pushing yourself to the limits and accepting the fact that stress is part of the process, let’s talk about how you can handle all that stress.

When I started my entrepreneurial career, I realized that the lack of money is the major cause of stress for most entrepreneurs. However, it’s not necessarily the lack of the business capital; it’s the lack of personal money.

There isn’t really a quick fix to making extra money fast other than working hard until you can pay yourself a decent salary. In the meantime, though, you can learn to live well below your means. This will significantly reduce your stress levels.

Buying a fancy home or a nice car and going on shopping sprees sounds nice, but it’s hard to maintain that life when your income is like a roller coaster. And once you get trapped by the lavish lifestyle, you’ll notice that you will keep spending money on things that you don’t need.

Hypothetically, let’s say you live in California and make $20,000 a month ($240k a year). It sounds like a lot of money, and it is as long as you control your spending.

But after taxes, that $20,000 turns into $11,194. Let’s say you live in a million dollar home, which means that your mortgage and property tax payments will come out to $5,336 a month. That only leaves $5,858. And after car payments, food expenses, bills, and other miscellaneous expenses, you’ll probably be left with something like $4,000 a month in savings.

Although $4,000 a month isn’t bad, the moment something goes wrong with your business and you’re forced to reduce your salary, you’ll have a difficult time covering your expenses. You possibly may even have to foreclose on your home.

On the other hand, if you bought a home that was half the cost and chose something that was more modest than the latest BMW, you could survive on an income of $10,000, or maybe even $5,000, a month.

In short, stress that comes from your business is a necessary evil. Even though it appears to be harming you, it’s actually pushing you forward. At the same time, you can easily manage the stress from your business by making smarter decisions in your personal life. Don’t make dumb spending decisions. Start living below your means.

Conclusion

I know stress isn’t the best thing for your body, but you will have to suck it up and deal with it. Throughout my personal journey, I have yet to come across a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t dealt with any stress in his or her life. It’s part of the process, so learn to deal with it!

What do you think? Is stress good for entrepreneurs?

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Comments

  1. stress and business come together …. that is a part of big money … so be ready for stressful days and sleepless nights… and if you dont want any stress in ur life be homeless and relax all day long :)

  2. I think that stress shows the passion you have for what you are doing. If you didn’t strive to make your business better, then you would never need to stress because you wouldn’t undertake any risks to stress about!

    I think stress tells entrepreneurs that they are attacking their passions head on, and I think that’s a good thing.

  3. Hi Neil,

    Stress come from internal and external sources.

    We cannot control external forces but have some control over our inner life. My low-tech solutions is v long walks with NO phone.

    Sometimes its good to get off the grid.

    Ivan

  4. Yes Stress is something no one can get away from, whether your in business or in a day job, with time you will learn how to cope with it better, without letting it get to you. For example the situation you were in 10 years ago, and if you were to find your self in similar situations again, this time you will deal with it better, and most probably not get as stressed as you did originally.

    Its something we cant hide from, but its definitely something we can lean to cope better in, and still have our thinking caps on.

  5. Maybe some Julio’s Pizza is in order to relieve some of that stress my friend.

  6. It is a necessary evil in our careers. It’s certainly not good for you in the sense of success. What IS good for you is your ability to manage it.

    It’s like controlled fires in national parks. They burn down portions of overgrowth so that the trees can still flourish and habitat can expand. But it’s controlled. They don’t just set it ablaze and walk away from it all.

  7. Neil,

    This is a great post. I haven’t started a business yet (my eyes are set on a couple of opportunities), but I’ve wondered about the part that stress plays in starting a business.

    It’s good to be reminded that stress is unavoidable in business. It seems that people who start companies are willing to deal with that stress.

    Besides, doesn’t a little stress help you to produce your best resutls? Do people get through medical school without any stress? Nope.

    Thanks again for your posts. I really appreciate your unique perspective based on your experiences.

  8. If you aren’t hitting on stress I wonder if the industry/product you’re building isn’t necessary and not enough people are or will be dependent on your service.

    The flip side of this are folks I meet in RE who own thousands of units and work 8-10 hours a week and bring in well over 9 figures a year. Most of their time is spent having their team/employees fliter, sort, organize, and coordinate the highest ROI deals.

  9. Neil,

    I can’t tell you how wonderful this blog post makes me feel. Although you probably think it’s just another post to add to your blog, the timing couldn’t be better.

    These last 4 weeks have been a walk through hell as I deal with developer issues, payment processing issues, and ecommerce platform issues. I’m stressed out of my mind!

    On the verge to going insane, this blog post comes up and makes me feel like I’m not the only one. Such a relief. Quick question though…

    How do you personally manage stress?

    • Well I tell my self, to “GOI” – get over it… and just plow through it to get it done.

      • One thing that I do and recommend is having an outlet for the stress. For me it’s usually playing sports or watching a movie and the reason these two work is because my mind is totally occupied and I don’t have the opportunity to think about anything else in between. Believe it or not those 2 hours really make a big difference!

  10. I never thought of stress as a conducive outlet for work. But the way you explain it, it really makes sense.

  11. Mary Kitt-Neel :

    When things get stressful for this freelancer, all I have to do is remember the half-hour commute to and from my last “real” job. Sure, I made good money, but I hated that job, and in the winter the drive to work in the morning AND the drive home in the evening both worked out so the entire drive involved having the sun low on the horizon, right in my face, adding insult to injury. (And yes, there was only one road leading to and from there.) (And no, I wasn’t willing to go in early and come home late to avoid it. Like I said, I really hated that job!)

  12. Any aspiring entrepreneur that can’t hack it with 20k a month is just a lazy rich kid.

    99% of the people in this country make less than that. A LOT less.

    Building a business while living on 800-1000 a month (aka minimum wage) while living pretty much anywhere except CA, NYC is a real challenge.

    No savings, no extra money, no nothing. I think it’s very unfair to to compare a “struggling” entrepreneur making that much money, and one who literally has to worry about keeping a roof over their head (not a million dollar one) because they are scraping everything for the business. Those are the real success stories.

  13. You I seem to stress out because I realize when I have an issue that I do not know I really do not have many outlets to look to without people starting to want $$.

    You start stressing out where to find the solution for the least amount of money without screwing things up. I think that is the biggest issue.

  14. There’s eustress and distress. Choose the former.

  15. Stress is required to take any action, otherwise you just are not compelled enough to do it on your own. However, it is best to apply stress yourself (ie take risks) as opposed to circumstance (oops I was fired!)

  16. Very well said Patel. I started a online marketing company 10 months back and usually work around 14-16 hours on daily basis, for me there is concept of holiday even on Sunday. Before starting working as a entrepreneur, I used to work in a MNC company and work was only for 9 hours. But its true that stress make you more productive :)

  17. Hi Neil,
    I’ve never faced to as big problems as you did. But in my life, there are something suddently went wrong, out of my control. Sometimes, I really stressed out. In those cases, I only leave me alone, it makes me better but requires such much time.
    Thanks for your helpful post, you know, you’re really a great man. That’s so nice.

  18. I ran my own business for 3 years without earning a cent and I was stressed beyond belief, I can only imagine how doing it for 6 years must have been. Yet, every month I managed to make just enough money to keep the business afloat. Stress keeps you on your toes and makes you focus on your bottom line, cashflow. I think it’s this built in mechanism that keeps you alive. You never truly grow unless you encounter hardship. It’s unfortunate but true. Thanks for the post.

  19. Whenever you’re into business, you need to have enough back-ups! Remember that in every plan you have, you need to lay down an alternative plan too which you can make use of once your first plan doesn’t work as expected.

  20. Hi
    It is wonderful to explain and suggest to gothrough that stress if you want to be bussinesmen but how difficult or easy to shoulder it?I have been doing it for last 25 years.I enjoy this pain but no option as well.

  21. Stress: I’ve it call “The Fear” or even “The Fat Man in a Red BMW Convertible” (from 4hr work week).

    Another way to look at it, as you’ve said, is pushing your boundaries.

    College was anything but a stress-free environment. (Esp as an engineer).

    And now for the whole reality-check. I just had lunch with an old colleague from Bell-Labs. He has 5+ weeks of vacation and has worked for Ma Bell most of his considerable life. He has been granted 270+ patents, and has won every prestigious award the company has to offer. Yet he is still stressed every day that he’s going to lose his corporate job.

    As an entrepreneur, I’d personally rather have the stress of running a business and launching new products successfully than the stress of wondering if someone is going to cut my position to save some money.
    Been There. Done That.
    I am learning more and will be making more soon to.

    Stressful? Yes. (what isn’t these days)
    Worth it? Absolutely

  22. This post just came at the right time, I am totally stressed out dont know what to do, but after reading this post feels like everything will be fine after some point.

    Thanks Mate

  23. You’re blog is very good and you’re so young compared to other seasoned entreprenuers that blog like cdixon, msuster, wil schroter, etc.

    It was really good and personally inspiring as I’m at a time where living homeless at santa monica is sounding more and more realistic each day and somehow not sounding bad but it takes hearing the real ‘dirt’ from other to inspire and keep going.

    It’s good to hear the real stuff rather than just the formalities of what successful startups take.

  24. One way of the ways I manage stress is choosing exactly what I stress out about. If something doesn’t matter, is beyond my control or just causes temporary pain or discomfort–then I make a conscious choice not to stress out about it.

    I save the stress for the important stuff that I can do to move things forward.

  25. Stress is now become a part of routine. we cannot ignore it or run away from it. we have to grant it and need to work with positive attitude.

  26. Fantastic post, Neil! I wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve written, particularly the part where you mentioned that entrepreneurs feel a lot of stress because of their lack of personal capital.

    It really is important to discipline yourself and lower your personal variable and fixed costs to a point where it becomes a habit — because once it becomes a habit to live below your means, it’s (1) not as difficult to spend less, and (2) when you do get to enjoy a nice meal or a night out, you cherish it much more :).

    Thanks, Neil!

    Justin

  27. Hi, I found many answers to stress reading the Tao Te Ching. A great song was written in hopes to guide us in the right path.

    http://www.spiritualcycle.com/the-tao-love-of-god/

  28. Well, I believe there are multiple ways other then stress to bring oneself to the next level, of course stress is one of them, but I really don’t agree with what you say “You don’t have to be stressed out, but living a stress free life won’t make you wealthy.”
    I mean, look this is definitely not a true sentence, how do you know stress free life won’t make someone wealthy, there is no logical reason behind it, I have seen people building up business without stress, although there are failures along the way, problem solving and knowing how to correct it, is totally different from stress.

    • You’ve seen them build businesses without stress… that’s not true. Unless you’re with them 24 hours, you’re not aware of all the crap they got to go through.

      • Well… I have been with them more the 24 hours and here’s what I found out… which is… they leverage their work to other people and only doing things they feel comfortable, look there are people who wanted to do the work all by their own, but guess what… leveraging is almost the key to any success, although, by doing everything yourself can be success by it will take longer time and worst… the stress you had to go through… and since you said stress is really the crap they got to go through… well… may be you haven’t seen those that’s doesn’t stress out.
        It’s personal choice, and I believe both stress and non-stress can be successful, it’s just how you going to handle it… oh… the people I had been with are actually my uncles, sometime I work with them in certain area of marketing and that’s when I knew how they so their business without stress….

  29. Stress? Is life, and we must deal with it.
    I just love this quote from Rocky Balboa (2006):

    “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

  30. From what I remember there are two kinds of stress: eustress (the good one) and distress (the bad one). Entrepreneur or not, these two affect you in the same way as they affect anyone else. While eustress can motivate you to do something that makes you go forward in your life, distress can give you some serious headache and serious health problems. So what I’m trying to say is that stress is both good and bad for entrepreneurs.

    • I’ve read this too… and yes there is one element to stress that works against you and one that works to your advantage. As one part of your job, you must be able to balance the two.

  31. No matter what field are you right now, you can still feel the stress inside your body. I do have a migraine and everytime I go to my Doctor, he keeps on telling me that I need to avoid stressful things in my life. At the back of my mind, How could that be possible??? For me not to think anything? Or I need to handle every situation in a right way. Latter is the most possible thing I know.

  32. Great post, stress comes with the territory. Note: spelling error – I believe “closet friends” should be “closest friends”?

  33. Stress-free life is probably a myth. There is good stress and bad stress. Good stress motivates you and pushes you to your limits and bad stress pulls you down. You need to decide which one you are going to choose.

    In addition, exercise/holiday etc. is a great stress buster. You need to balance your work-life.

    Great article!

  34. Stress is part of everyday life. You are right Neil, after you managed to save some money you are not so stressed anymore but don’t get lazy because you want more, right?

  35. Stress is what keeps you motivated and humble…without it success is unlikely!

  36. Putting yourself in the “fire” is one of the best ways to grow personally and professionally.

  37. Entrepreneurs stress over making payroll. Corporate workers stress over being laid off through no fault of their own. At least entrepreneurs have some control over their destiny, corporate workers have almost none. As a refugee from 20+ years in the corporate world, I’ll take entrepreneurial stress any day.

  38. Although it’s true that stress will be part of any entrepreneurial journey, I really don’t think it’s a requirement to success. Stress is part of life; you’ll probably find reasons to stress at the yacht club when you retire or on your park bench if you don’t do anything…

    I think what you’re trying to get at is passion, drive and will to succeed. Stressful path indeed but, like working 80hrs a week, it is not a requirement. You just have to set your expectations right and work smart.

  39. Well stress maybe ok but you said you worked for 6 years straight without paying your self a dollar.. Next time go ahead pay your self like $20 at the end of each month go out to dairy queen, buy a hot fudge sundae and enjoy it get a sandwich and fries. You see maybe you were stressing yourself out unnecessarly, you see and all it took was $20.
    ;)

  40. Stress does make you struggle hard but there should be a line drawn. I mean don’t stress too much that you lose your hair. But yeah, stress is compulsory.
    Thanks.

  41. Great Post Neil. I agree stress is good for you. However you have to be fully aware of what is causing your stress and how to control it. I am currently helping my father expand his Direct Marketing Company and do a lot of door to door selling. When I started off fresh out of college it was tough getting out of your comfort zone and talking to people in the professional world.

    However I realized that the more I stepped out of my comfort zone and spoke to someone I was really afraid to talk to, the more sales I attracted.

    As a minority I went through a lot of rejection but I have learnt how to take rejection in a positive way.

    thanks for the post.

    Nabil

  42. i agree that pushing yourself to the limits is often good thing that helps you do the toughest tasks..but excess stress is cent percent bad for health…there should be limited stress

  43. I don’t think you need to be a stress head. But you are definitely right about the need to feel uncomfortable. If your not feeling it your not pushing boundaries, if your not pushing boundaries your not going to get anything you don’t already have.

  44. We can get stress anywhere. Inside at home, at work, talking to other people, as in anywhere! We just need to learn how to handle things. Absorb only those that are worth of our time.

  45. As with any business if you are an entrepreneur stress is bound to come your way. I believe that there will be periods where you will be under severe stress, and other time where you will be stress-free. As an entrepreneur, I believe it comes with the territory but you learn to deal with it over time. No one is perfect, but the rewards of being an entrepreneur are priceless.

  46. A little bit of stress is definitely a good thing. You provide some great advice here – prepare to be uncomfortable, flatten expenses, and hunker down for the long haul. These are definitely things I wish I would have known prior to starting my journey nearly three years ago. I think many people understand that these are necessary evils of taking the entrepreneurial path – they just don’t understand the amount of hardship and length of time they will have to endure such discomforts.

  47. This is really important for the beginners who want to go a long distance, you need to know the limit and the capability of your passion.

  48. “Having to fire one of my closet friends”

    Wow… sucks for him/her, best to leave their sexuality out of this thought?

    :P <3

  49. hey neil. i m a great fan of your blogs, your way of presntation and use of words is awesome dude.
    hmmm..now about this, topis yeah its true that Stress is a common word in any entrepreneurial journey. but hte way you provide solutions for this problem, are fantastic.
    keep it up bro.

  50. I think stress is one of those necessary evils. I believe It is good, but one needs to be able to manage it correctly. A good friend of mine has been in and out of the hospital due to stress and it hurts to see him do it to himself. The other thing I have seen is some will end up using pills to help like xzanex or sleeping pills, then they end up being around but slightly retarded. We had to get on one of my bosses because of that.

  51. 5 minutes of a sprint on my tread and I am good to go for another hour. 10 minutes with my little daughter and then 2 hours non stop work (and stress). I know I have found my stress busters.

    Again, I thank you for distinguishing work hours from stress. It is usually the pile of tasks that give the stress and not the work itself…never is it that way.

  52. Stress which makes body and mind so weak i have struggled a lot in my life

  53. I need to reduce my stress… too much! One thing that helps is setting work hours and sticking to them. It keeps you from being bombarded with emails and phone calls from the time you get up until the time you go to bed.

    Another thing that helps is using some sort of project/job management system so you can stay organized. That has helped me a lot.

  54. Hi Neil
    Its really an inspiring story.Thanks a lot for sharing.You are right that we need to come out of our comfort zone and to take some risk.Taking risk is like you are entering into unknown zone where you have to just learn.
    Great Work Dude.

  55. Hi, As you have mentioned to be in stress is good to initiate but being always in stress will reduce our productivity and may ultimately lose our enthusiasm.

  56. Stress can be handled that easy if we only know how to spend all our resources wisely. Just like for example, finish everything you need before running out of time than finding yourself rushing just to finish all your works. Also for money, save now before you see yourself experiencing financial problem.

  57. stress occurs because of a pressure. but all will end if we can handle the pressure that the right way.
    dont give up,,,

  58. David Kraljic :

    Neil-
    HOw did you not pay yourself for 6 years. You must have had a pile of cash to back you up at that point.

    Also – I think it is fair to say your age helps you out. Or rather familial situation. I assume you don’t have kids and a mortgage? It definitely becomes harder when you are not by yourself.

    I stress myself out – it is what drives me. So I generally agree with your idea. But I am not sure you can directly relate that to success.

    • No it wasn’t that had piles of cash,just that I was very frugal. I am single and I do agree, it’s a lot easier for me. I can take more risks than someone with a family can.

  59. We can reduce stress if we only know how not to complicate things. Sometimes, thinking too much about small details can eat up most of your time. Learn how to weigh things to avoid complications.

  60. Hi Neil,

    I don’t think stress is good for anyone. But some people accept stress as the price they pay to achieve the things they want. I completed a master’s degree a couple of years ago, and it was perhaps the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. So much so that I wouldn’t do it again. But at the time it was important and I didn’t mind the stress because it’s something I wanted. So it’s about priorities.

    Thanks!

    Pete

  61. I agree, no point in focusing on the small things when they’re are bigger fish to fry.

  62. I think stress cannot be avoided. What we can do instead, is learning how to deal with it. Learning to use that negative part as an advantage; trying to take what’s good of it. See things from more perspectives and try to be calm, don’t panic. Stress can be controlled.

  63. Ah, the topic of stress. Well you will have it whether you own your own business or work for someone else’s.

    So my thought is, why not have the equity along with the stress and run your own business.

    It really is all about how you deal with it in my opinion.

  64. I think Stress is one of the more r=evil things that creeps up on us these days. It seems like just when you get out of the thick of things, more gets piled on.

  65. that is an interesting way to look at stress. I do try to manage my stress as I don’t think it is healthy to be stressed all the time.

  66. When you are stressed no one wants to hear about how stressed you are. Everyone is stressed, that’s the truth. It is about what you do while you are stressed and how you manage it. You’ll definitely turn some heads, if you are able to manage the stress and still continue to be successful.

  67. Many people want to be millionaires, but can’t handle the responsibilty that comes with the success. Great post !!! I know all to well how stress affects me :( Those who manage can gain success. And thats why most people ask is the success really worth the effort !!! And ever notice most millionaires vacation constantly. In my opinion they have to in order to release the stress. Everything comes with a price :(

  68. hey neil,
    i think stress is good for entrepreneur to some extend, just to motivate him to work. obviously extra ordinary stress can affect him in negative way. it’s a good article.

    Thanks.
    Matt

  69. They burn down portions of overgrowth so that the trees can still flourish and habitat can expand.

  70. Stress!! Who knew it could be channeled to be a positive part of life?! Thanks for the great ways to MANAGE the stress, so important!

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