Your startup life in 2014

  • Startup coaching covers a lot of ground, but not enough on managing personal lives
  • Entrepreneurs need to take care of themselves and their families, support each other

Your startup life in 2014 A FEW words about Lunar New Year Resolutions (if there is such a thing) that I will lay down for myself, and I hope you will like them too.
Back in 2009, there was a huge gap between qualified startup mentors able to help first-time founders (especially), and serial entrepreneurs building product companies for the first time. I saw too many sub-par quality companies being funded and failing, which is a total waste of money.
This sparked the creation of Founder Institute Singapore in 2010, with support from the country’s Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and Spring Singapore [an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry which helps Singapore companies grow – ED]. Since then, we’ve been crushing it, thanks for asking.
Four years later in 2014, the mentorship gap has narrowed considerably, although not completely. We now have a new and flourishing startup ecosystem that I am proud of.
However, among the challenges founders still face in their ongoing evolution are managing people; setting a vision and direction; maintaining work-life balance; and defining the culture of their companies.
What is missing is the next step of founder coaching, whether it comes from the board, advisors, fellow founders or even full-time executive coaches focused on startup leadership. Our fraternity should come together to help like-minded folks plough through the good and mostly tough times.
Back in 2010, I gave away some internal secrets on how to build relationships in business (although some were probably not secrets at all). I spoke about this only once publicly, in a Singapore Management University lecture.
Here are the highlights:
Your startup life in 2014 The way to build relationships with anyone in business is to know how to take care of their (in this order):

  • Love/ family life (especially kids – their health, education and/ or love life);
  • Physical and mental health (especially physical health – a thought or an action can change perceptions deeply); and 
  • Money matters/ career (especially making them look good and proud of their achievements).

So taking a page from above, in 2014, founders please:

1) Take care of yourself this year. Do not let your startup and milestones consume you whole. Slow down and look up at the blue sky once in a while and take a deep breath. Look at your loved ones and be clear on why you are doing what you are doing.
2) Seek out a small fraternity (fewer than five) of like-minded founders whom you can chat, update and share your journey with. Grab dinner with them once a month, create a Whatsapp or Facebook group chat to connect and share. Startup life is hard, period. You need an outlet and a sounding board.
3) Focus on your job at hand (money matters/ career), have a personal life (love/ family), and have a side interest or hobby (for your physical and mental health). And lastly, work out (preferably in the late mornings or early afternoons) a few times a week.

No matter what your situation is, you founders are a different breed of people whom I have the good fortune to meet, train, occasionally scold, and invest in. Stick together to help one another. Be blunt.
Remember, there are people around you who are there to help, support and lend a helping hand. 
They do care about you no matter what you may think. Sometimes a text, a message or a nod will trigger a catch-up that is long overdue.
Sometimes, just knowing that they are around is all you need.
Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jeffrey Paine is a general partner at Golden Gate Ventures, and a director at the Founder Institute and also Battle Ventures, a venture advisory firm. This article first appeared on his blog and is reprinted here in slightly different form and with his kind permission.
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