The Entrepreneur Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “What’s something you wish you knew before starting your business?” is written by Simon Berg, CEO of Ceros.
Before starting a business, I wish I’d known about the existence of the startup time-distortion vortex.
Now that I’ve gotten your attention, you may be wondering: What the hell is this vortex? You may not call it the same thing I do, but if you’re an entrepreneur, I’m 99% certain you’ve experienced it firsthand.
The startup time-distortion vortex is a strange effect that warps time on all sides. It feels like time is simultaneously running extremely fast and extremely slow within your universe.
Sometimes, the vortex bends time and makes you feel like you’ve been working for 10 years when you’ve only been at it for a year. When this happens, you can start to get really angry and disappointed in yourself. You feel like you haven’t achieved the results you wanted to, that your progress is excruciatingly slow, and that you’re behind the curve. You enviously look at other startups and wonder why you aren’t as far along as they are.
This time-dilation effect can also have a positive impact on your business. After all, feeling like you’re falling behind is motivation to work even harder—and when you do, you can often achieve two years’ worth of work in six months because you’re getting after it so hard.
At other times, the vortex stretches time and makes it seems like you have plenty to spare when you really don’t. This often happens when you’re gearing up for your next funding round—you think you have more time than you really do to start conversations with investors. Then you have that “oh shit” moment when you realize you probably should’ve started pitching weeks earlier.
I’ve even seen this time-contraction effect happen during the hiring process. You think you can hire for a critical role on your team in four weeks, when in reality, it can take at least four months to find the right person with the right skillset and experience. This can be extremely frustrating, especially during the early stages of building a company.
So how do you combat the time-distortion vortex? My advice is to take a step back from the startup scene on a regular basis. Once you venture outside the bubble, you’ll be able to see things much more clearly. Trust me. Spend an hour talking to someone who runs a well-established business, or chat up a corporate executive at your next cocktail party. Hearing others’ perspectives on progress, time, and accomplishments will give you a fresh view of your own situation. In the majority of cases, you’ll feel a lot better about where you’re at and how much you’ve achieved.
Just like time, running a startup is relative. Depending on the stage of your business, your years of experience, your industry, and hundreds of other factors, time can feel like it’s flying by at light speed, like it’s creeping along at a glacial pace, or both at the same time. This is normal. Don’t be discouraged.
Read all responses to the Entrepreneur Insider question: What’s something you wish you knew before starting your business?
Why This Entrepreneur Doesn’t Regret Leaving His Successful Business by Chris Boehner, founder and CEO of Western Natural Foods.
The Most Important Thing You Can Do Before Starting a Business by Josh Reeves, cofounder and CEO of Gusto.
The Important Business Lesson Too Many Leaders Ignore by Aidan Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of Reincubate.
What Google and Richard Branson Can Teach Us About Success by Alexander Goldstein, founder and CEO of Eligo Energy.
Here’s Why You Should Start Working Less by Erik Severinghaus, founder and CEO of SimpleRelevance.
The Dangerous Mistake Too Many Leaders Make by Fayez Mohamood, cofounder and CEO of Bluecore.
The Biggest Challenge Every Entrepreneur Faces by Jeff Ruby, founder and CEO of Newtopia.
Here’s What Happens When Your Company Only Focuses on Data by Allison Berliner, founder and CEO of Cataluv.
What Every Entrepreneur Should Be More Prepared for by Feris Rifai, cofounder and CEO of Bay Dynamics.
Why Virtual Offices Don’t Work by William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.
The One Quality That Defines a Great Entrepreneur by Anthony Katz, founder of Hyperice.
What Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Apple by Michael Maven, founder of Carter & Kingsley.