March 2, 2014
Why Stress Can Actually Save Your Startup (If You Know How to Use It)

An entrepreneur’s road to success is paved with tough learnings, self-doubt, persistence—and, most of all, stress.

Stress is what keeps us up late, tossing and turning, the night before a big meeting. It’s what has us burning the midnight oil to meet a deadline. It’s that reminder to keep a close eye on the books as money runs dry.

But what if you could use stress to your advantage? What if the reality is that stress is the only thing moving your startup forward? What if you knew how to use your stress to save your startup?

10,000 years ago, stress response was what kept humans alive from large predators. So I think it can manage keeping your startup going.

Ready to change your relationship with stress? Follow these four strategies:

 1.      Differentiate between productive and unproductive stress. Stress is just your body’s response to perceived danger. Your muscles tighten, your vision sharpens, and your blood sugar spikes. That’s incredibly useful when you’ve got to make a late-night deadline, but less so when you’re stuck in a sea of traffic. So learn to distinguish between the productive stress that you can use to your advantage and the unproductive stress that leaves you sitting at a computer with little to do.

 2.      Take the message to improve your startup. If it’s unproductive stress (which most of it probably is), then it’s communicating something to you. Either you’re taking on too much, not choosing the right approach, setting your expectations too high, or holding on to limiting beliefs. Unproductive stress is the best way to identify inherent weaknesses in your startup and work to fix them. If you’re chronically stressed about one aspect of your business, it might be a good idea to reevaluate your strategy and try something new. Entrepreneurship is all about learning, and stress is just a teacher. 

 3.      Use the gifts you’re given. That fight-or-flight mentality packs a punch with its cortisol and blood sugar rush. Ever notice what people do when they’re stressed? They pace. It’s a natural response to use up those gifts from stress. Take a walking meeting, go for a lunchtime run, or even break out into a spontaneous afternoon dance party to use up that nervous energy.

4.      Get back to baseline. The problem with stress isn’t that it happens; that’s inevitable. It’s that we throw ourselves from one crisis to the next without recharging our batteries. So indulge yourself after a stressful event. Maybe a massage, swinging the golf club, or a guiltless evening watching bad flicks. Whatever your luxury, pick something that both relaxes your body and gives a nod to your new pal, stress.

Mike Iamele is a Corporate Wellness Coach, who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and executives manage stress, avoid burnout, and put their energy back into their passions. Catch him at, where he writes advice for finding balance every weekday.  He is also hosting a free workshop at Alpha Landmark on March 12th at 7pm.  Click here for details.