353: Why a High Stress Tolerance is Essential For Entrepreneurship

To be truly successful in business and play the game at a high level, you need to at some point have been brought to your knees by it. You need to experience a near-traumatic event in your business to adjust your stress tolerance. Stress is relative; if two people get a flat tire on their way home from work, they may both be equally capable people who react to the situation differently. One person with a fast-paced job, a high-stress life, and people relying on them will figure it out, and it doesn’t become a giant mess in their life. The person who isn’t capable of handling stress will turn it into a traumatic event, maybe cry, and talk about it for weeks as if the world ended.

I was broken down by the game at Storage Squad because I was working a really hard business. Our operations involved getting box trucks to dorms in downtown Boston at the right time to service our students. As we scaled we ended up handling tons of students’ possessions in tons of states and frankly had too much business. One delivery season comes around and we have no idea what we’re in for, realizing a few days into it that we’re way over our heads. My partner Dan and I ended up loading trucks, managing operations, handling customer service, scheduling staff at night, and not sleeping. 

One fateful day, we had two trucks put entirely out of commission due to employee error, and one truck had both employees quit while they left the vehicle in the middle of the street. While I was managing all of this, my phone kept ringing with upset customers. I ended up pulling the truck over and had a mental breakdown on the side of the road. I called my partner, who talked some sense into me and got me to keep going, but I was a wreck.

When you experience that, you experience losing thousands of dollars to customer refunds and truck damage all while you’re physically and mentally exhausted, and all other stress becomes relative. When you look at the people who succeed, most of them have struggled in some immense way. But they’ve learned to manage stress well, and they’re able to handle the day-to-day stressors effectively. I’ve lost money on days like the one I described, and I hated it, but it turned me into a badass, and that’s irreplaceable.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.