Self Care

Dealing With Loneliness As The CEO

When you run a business, there will be some days where you’re just… off.

You’re not on your game. Can’t get focused. Can’t get shit done.

And you’re not feeling it.

Something I like to do when that happens is getting a workout in and making my blood pump. That’s what’s worked for me but we all have different ways to blow some steam and get back on track.

I recently went through one of those “cloudy” days where I wasn’t feeling too great.

I went to the gym so I could try to clear my head. And, while I was there, I started thinking about how lonely and difficult it can be to run a business as a CEO.

Right after I got back to my apartment here in Miami, I decided to put my thoughts on this out loud and record this podcast.

But now, I also want to put them on paper so that I can expand in a couple of topics and get some structure.

What business owners are facing that others don’t see

I started Jakt 7+ years ago and we’re now a multi-7 figure business. It’s definitely been a journey with ups and downs — in business, but also emotionally and mentally.

I’ve lately had some very interesting conversations on this issue. I also haven’t felt too on point, so I thought it was a good time to share everything out.

You see…

Running a business gets really lonely and it’s a fucking hard thing to do.

If you’re a business owner, you might know what I’m talking about:

The tough challenges you’re facing, how you’re feeling, the risk you’re going through, the stress, the financial pressure…

Empathy goes both ways

Unless you run a business — and this is just my opinion — it’s going to be hard for you or other people to understand.

And by other people, I mean literally everyone around you: your friends, your family, your employees.

Sure, you can have empathy for someone.

But… until you sit down and try on that same pair of shoes, you won’t get the full picture.

And, at the same time, I have empathy for everyone else when they don’t completely grasp what I’m talking about.

It’s easy for CEOs and business owners to get frustrated when others don’t “get it” right away.

The truth is, they just can’t know. They haven’t been in your shoes. So I think we need to work on having patience and empathy towards them as well.

The risks that business owners put themselves through

Just a few days ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I stumbled upon a video that resonated with me on this.

A student at George Washington U. recently asked this question to Ben Shapiro:

“Let’s say you own a pencil factory and I’m an employee there.

Without us the workers, you’d have nothing. We’re the ones that put together the pencils and, if we left, you wouldn’t even have a business to run.

So, therefore, you should distribute all the profits evenly.”

The counterargument he made was this:

“How do you think everyone should be compensated the same when… it was me –the business owner– who took on all the risk, right?

The one who had to invest in all the equipment. The one that assumed the financial risk.

And, if this doesn’t work, my downside is not capped. The employee can lose a job, but I lose everything.

If we get sued, the employee doesn’t have to pay for that. I do.”

And please, understand that…

I’m not shitting on employees here.

We have extremely talented and capable people here at Jakt and other Polpo companies.

Being an entrepreneur is not better or worse than being an employee. And I believe people should do what comes naturally to them.

But there’s a disproportionate amount of risk that falls on the side of the employer. And that brings with it certain things that we have to endure that can have an effect on our mental health.

The counterpart of risk: rewards

Here’s why (some) business owners get paid that much.

That video was a great example of what happens behind the curtain. The risks and pressures that come with being an entrepreneur and that so many people don’t see.

But that exactly why the rewards are different, right?

Starting a company is a high-risk, high-reward job. We’re putting everything in the line to build and add value to something from scratch. Our downside is bottomless, so it’s only fair that the rewards are larger too.

On the other hand, an employee gets to have a steady amount of income and is shielded from the risk.

For example, if a customer doesn’t pay our business, I don’t receive any money. But I’m still obligated to pay my employee every two weeks like clockwork.

Feeling lonely while running a business

I don’t want to over-romanticize entrepreneurship. I’m just sharing my perspective and trying to come at it from a logical standpoint.

But if you’re a business owner, this article might really resonate with you.

It’s hard for people to understand what you’re going through if they haven’t been there themselves. They just won’t.

That’s why it’s often easier to talk to other business owners who have been gone through similar circumstances.

They get how it feels when you’re losing money. When you can’t take cash out of the business. How it feels to have to sit across the table and fire someone.

They understand the pressure. The anxiety. The depression. Not being able to sleep and turning in bed for hours.

They get it. You’re not alone.

You might experience loneliness, But remember these 3 things: 

  • Running a business can be very lonely and difficult. Have empathy for those people that don’t fully comprehend what you’re going through — they haven’t been in your shoes.
  • Starting a company has an unlimited downside that comes with potentially high rewards. Some people want that, and others do not. And that’s okay.
  • Other business owners will probably be the people that best understand what you’re talking about. They’ve been there themselves. Try to connect with them and share your experiences.

And if you’re looking for a community of business owners on the same path as you, click here.