Starting up is a lesson in patience. You are a parent to an idea and its execution. People associated with it are a part of execution, thus essentially an integral part of your ‘kid’. Have a kid, the chubby cheeks isn’t the only thing you look forward to. A kid throws up, urinates and defecates at an alarming frequency. A parent is patient, accepting and loves the kid no less. The same applies to an effective founder.
It is not easy being responsible for so many things, deal with it. The spotlight is exhausting. Writing cheques when the bank account is running dangerously low is stressful. Managing customers and their demands gets trying. Choosing and retaining employees is a challenge. The decision fatigue is real. The temptation to snap at buggers is real. So is the desire to take a vacation. Self Tantrums is not an option. Unless you want to set a bad example, be perceived as inconsistent or worse- irresponsible. You know your long hours, the bugger interacting with you for 5 minutes doesn’t. Founders build their reputation every moment, and a moment of weakness might ruin a relationship or the brand image. Deal with it.
Your investors, mentors, allies and business friends are stakeholders in your success. In your victory, lies theirs. They have every right to be stubborn when they see you not working hard enough for yourself (and them). Stakeholders like being preferred, because they believe they are one of the driving forces behind your successes. Answer their calls, heed their requests, honor the commitments made and be prompt on follow ups with people they connect you to. Their tantrums should be warning signs. The moment they throw one, look inside, assess what you are doing wrong and fix what’s broken. Stakeholders should be happy and satisfied at your pace of work. They ought to be your evangelists, much like brand activist customers.
Be grateful you have customers, thank them at least once a year. Their money pays your bills. Primarily, fire bad customers. The good ones- work on war footing when they throw tantrums. Good customers give you feedback, they warn you when you don’t do the right things and vouch for you when times get tough. Listen to their negative feedback. Are they feeling unheard? Do they feel you have become adamant and careless? Are you not prompt enough anymore? The very fact that a customer is taking time out and making an effort to throw a tantrum shows that you ought to pull up your socks.
With companies, come people who work in them, with you. The key factor to understand is detachment. The first reaction to a tantrum should be taking a step back, keeping your head cool and objectively analyzing a situation. In what capacity is the tantrum being thrown? What is the issue? Is the issue valid? If you are angry, what is the real reason behind your anger? Are there lines being crossed? Effective founders toe the dignified line, being in the profession of all forgiving dignity, empathy and diplomacy. Keeping ego and personal equations aside helps us deal with Employee Tantrums and find an effective solution, in the interest of the bigger picture. There is always a right time to cut off a kite’s string.
When you start out, your family should have your back. They are the folks you go home to. They have the right to your love, your time, your focus and your resources. Give them everything they deserve, go out of the way to make things happen for them. They might not always understand your business jargon, but they love seeing your eyes sparkle every time you discuss your dreams and ambitions. They love seeing you fly, they love you no matter what, as long as you do the right things. When they throw a tantrum, assess your relationships, if you haven’t been giving them time, whether you have changed for the worse. No matter how much fame and money you achieve, having a family to go home to is priceless.
Their attention seeking nature HELPS. It’s best that all broken things be fixed as soon as you notice them. Seek out tantrums, look within and heal them. Starting up is a lesson in listening skills and parenthood.