I recently had a call updating an investor about all things LineGard Med, and he ended the call with one of the most poignant questions I’d been asked in a while: “What keeps you up at night?” I laughed, and admittedly had to strain to think about it and answer; it was kind of an awkward thing to think about! Awkward because what keeps you up at night might not necessarily be the biggest structural hurdle or largest expenditure. Here are three questions that I’ve had to answer recently that go a little deeper than timelines or margins, and that every founder needs to answer.
What about your business keeps you up at night? It’s the thing buried in your inbox that is still marked unread. It’s the person you’re counting on to perform but who is showing sings of falterning. It’s the user input that you can’t figure out how to satisfy. It can be anything. I love this question because it’s a gauge of how things are feeling; and I don’t mean boo-hoo feelings, I mean the way people’s chemistry and dynamics are affecting things. Having a development team building your application checks the box, but do you feel like they are giving you quality work? Should you lean on them for more? You have research staff for your study, but are they feeling engaged about the data collection? Don’t be afraid to use this question to root out that pesky little issue in your business.
Is your personal happiness separated from your business? I cannot stress how important this separation is. Entrepreneurs put their heart and soul into their businesses. It’s what makes them great, but it’s also problematic for managing stress. You cannot let the ups and down of the business dictate your attitude. Most importantly, you cannot consolidate your self worth in your business. If you wear the stress of your business on your shoulders, 24/7, it will wear you down. You have to understand that it’s OK to unplug and handle it later.
Are you continuing to grow as a leader? Always being the best leader for your company means you have to grow and evolve as your company’s needs do. This doesn’t mean shifting principles for convenience, it means knowing when and how to best manage your people and processes. Staying up on best practices doesn’t happen naturally; it takes reading new journals, being active in the industry community, staying fresh on research. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and mature personally, as well.