Out of 10 start-ups, five close down, two struggle to sustain, two are moderately successful and only one becomes a full-fledged success. Behind start-ups that don’t succeed are entrepreneurs, who, riddled with anxiety and depression, turn to counsellors
BENGALURU: You’ve put your savings aside judiciously and quit your full-time corporate job to finally give in to the entrepreneurial pull. You’ve been warned about the first three years being nightmarish, but you’ve dismissed these thoughts, certain that you will be able to handle them.But a few years into this ‘dream venture’, you realise that the ride is more than bumpy. With fewer highs than lows, each living moment is riddled with anxiety which turns into depression – how will you pay off loans, pay bills, look after family and sustain the company?
This is the situation in the start-up capital of the country, where several young entrepreneurs are now frequenting counsellors for anxiety and depression. Take the case of 27-year-old Suresh Nair (name changed), who started an app development company one-and-half-years ago.
The only breadwinner of the family, Suresh, jumped into the start-up bandwagon without a proper mentor.
Even as his family spotted signs of depression, Suresh refused to accept it. It was only after he faced an anxiety attack, for which he is currently undergoing treatment, did he take heed. "I had mortgaged my house to get funds for the company. I had reached my wits’ end – I was angry with myself and depressed about why this had to happen to me," he shares.
Dr Naveen Jayaram, psychologist at Sakra World Hospital, counsels at least three entrepreneurs on a weekly basis, who come to him with signs of anxiety and depression. These entrepreneurs in the 25-40 age group have shifted from the corporate industry to start something on their own."Initially they are all geared up to be their own boss, but when things start getting difficult, they begin realising that they are responsible not just for themselves, but a whole host of people," he says.
The psychologist finds co-founder incompatibility to be one of the primary reasons for things going awry. "Many individuals start ventures with a couple of like-minded people with similar backgrounds. But soon, they realise that each one comes with their own ideas. In a corporate setup, there’s hierarchy. But in a start-up, each of them feels that they are the boss which is where the problem begins," he says.
Dr Naveen recalls a recent instance when a couple who had started a joint venture came in for counselling. "The husband had attempted suicide by hanging himself and was admitted in hospital. That’s when the wife approached me for counselling and mentioned that a severe fund crunch was the reason for the suicide attempt. He was finding it difficult to balance his work and personal life, especially since they had just had a child. They finally shut down the start-up unable to bear the pressure," he says.
This is not a lone case. It’s a common scenario for psychologists, points out Dr Shubha Madhusudhan, clinical psychologist of Fortis Hospital. "Men are not open to accepting defeat. It’s often the wife who approaches a counsellor," she says.
Three crucial years
Start-ups may seem like a stroll in the park but experts point out that the first three years of its launch are crucial to achieve long-term success. "There are two types of entrepreneurs: one with an intense passion to do something on their own, second, corporate employees who form a team and start a venture," says Sanjay Koppikar, who runs Amper AXP and has been an entrepreneur since the age of 18.
Sathya Pramod, co-founder of Kayess Square, points out that young entrepreneurs often don’t come with adequate funds. On the other hand, ‘grey-headed entrepreneurs’ as he terms them come with the cushion of financial security and settled families.
Based on his observation, out of 10 start-ups, five close down, two of them struggle for sustainability, two are moderately successful and only one becomes a full-fledged success. "Even so, these start-up guys prefer joining another start-up over going back to the structured corporate world," he says.
What needs to be done
According to Sanjay Koppikar, founder, Amper AXP
■ Find a mentor who can help you with a solution in times of crises
■ Take a step back and look at the overall picture objectively when things are not working out
■ Find like-minded but experienced co-founders who share the same passion
■ Find a good marketeer. Branding of the start-up is the key to its success
According to Dr Naveen,psychologist, Sakra World Hospital
■ Eat well to maintain good health
■ Balance work and personal life
According to Sathya Pramod, founder, Kayess Square
■ Test the start-up waters by first starting off your venture part-time
■ Look at each of your employees as entrepreneurs rather than employees
Dr Naveen Jayaram, psychologist at Sakra World Hospital, counsels at least three entrepreneurs on a weekly basis