written by Alex Lazarus, Managing Consultant

Being a first-time founder can be both the hardest and the most rewarding professional experience you will ever have. There’s no doubt that your passion and evangelical belief that the world really needs what you are about to create will help you get the right attention. However, it’s also proven that, precisely, these components could leave you exasperated and exhausted sooner than you think.

Passion, for instance, is a powerful emotion able to override stress and the need for logical thinking. It frees up incredible resources of energy and innovative thinking, however, what you also need for a long term survival is plenty of common sense.

Here’s a quick guide to help you stay on track and avoid having to add an “ex” before “entrepreneur” after just 12 months in the business.

1. Research – ensure that there is a market for your product and your market timing is right.

2. Customer Acquisition – nail down your business model – we love your optimism but when it comes to customer acquisition, lower it down by a few notches. Consider your customer acquisition cost! There’s no such thing as free lunch, sadly.

3. Think big whilst triple checking your scaling up costs and logistics. Get professional advice so you can enjoy day dreaming uninterrupted by any negative self-talk.

4. For the love of money – think: cash control! Most entrepreneurs reported back that running out of cash was the first cruel wake up call they got.

5. Collaborate – sorry to break it to you but you can’t do it alone! Strength is in numbers so create a cohesive team and share the crops. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of being smart.

6. Lead the floating ship – perfect your leadership skills, especially: communication, delegation, feedback, goal setting and empowering others to avoid that sinking feeling…

7. Maverick mind – when necessary, don’t think out of the box. Think as if there was no box. Innovate and inspire others to think creatively.

8. Patience – Rome was not built in a day. Don’t underestimate small steps. Small steps equal huge victory.

9. Life support – create a strong support network. Include your family, friends, peers and professional network. The power of well-wishers and cheer leaders can be a game changer too in boosting your morale when you’re feeling low.

Lastly, look after yourself. Burnout is like an airborne virus. You can’t see it. You think you’re safe and suddenly, bang, it hits you turning your inspiration into a sheer exasperation. Your energy levels go down, your anxiety dims your self-belief and doubt starts to creep in.

Look after that brain of yours that gave you the incredible, commercially viable idea in the first place. Play hard. Work hard. Then go home, have a smoothie and a good night sleep. Some even swear that slow is the new fast…