Matthias Siems shares the dark side of entrepreneurship

By Deepak Jain

Published: Fri 12 Aug 2022, 4:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Sep 2022, 3:38 PM

We live in a world that idolises the life of an entrepreneur. Words such as freedom, work/life balance, luxury and world travel dominate the internet as people try to paint an attractive portrait of the idea of entrepreneurship. Many people have gained financial freedom, fulfilment, and fun by launching their business endeavours. The problem is that most don’t understand that this freedom comes with a price. Studies show that over 72 per cent of entrepreneurs suffer from mental health issues. While many glamorise the idea of owning their own business, no one wants to imagine the stress of telling an employee they are fired in the middle of a pandemic. No one wants to imagine taking a voluntary pay cut so they can meet payroll for their employees. While this is not often talked about, these are decisions that many entrepreneurs, especially when first starting out, have to make. Matthias Siems, the founder of Taru Group, shares his thoughts on dealing with the dark side of entrepreneurship.

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Making mistakes is normal

The biggest problem in entrepreneurship is that leaders and founders think they need to be perfect. Since launching Taru Group in 2008, he has amassed a nine-figure investment portfolio. While this is impressive, he is also very candid about his losses during that time. “I have made many bad business mistakes. One of them cost me everything. But the best thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on.” One of the biggest mistakes is trying to do everything yourself. Early in his career, Siems found himself insistent on learning everything himself instead of learning from the mistakes of others. “I was too stubborn to accept the experiences of experienced people. I tried to learn by myself instead of learning from others.” As an entrepreneur, one of the biggest lessons to be learned is to accept mistakes as part of the journey and be willing to learn from them.

Dealing with bad news

No one likes to share bad news. Share prices drop, investors back away, and CEOs are fired when they must report bad news. That’s all because we have developed bad relationships with hearing and giving bad news. Siems recalled a time when he consulted for a plant that was on the verge of shutting down. One of his first tasks was to inform the employees that many would likely lose their jobs. Of course, this was an unpleasant task, but he focused on finding solutions. In the end, by being upfront with the employees, he worked with them and negotiated a way for many to keep their jobs and others to access early retirement. “Although the chances of failure were higher than success, I was able to help the employees by focusing on what I could do instead of what I couldn’t do.” Siems believes that the key to overcoming bad news is through transparency. This approach often leads Siems and his team to find solutions when others only see problems. “We constantly find solutions that others don’t see - simply by being comfortable with bad news.” By accepting that bad news is a part of business, you can find innovative solutions and improve your business for the future.

Protecting your mental health

As an entrepreneur, you often find yourself overwhelmed and alone. It is easy to be buried in the work and put your mental health aside. Although he has built a massive company, Siems emphasises finding balance in his life. I want to be happy and to be healthy. While hustling, twenty-hour days, and non-stop work are glorified as ‘part of the grind,’ Siems believes it’s important to break out of that mindset. “You need to recalibrate. You need someone or something that always brings you back to the ground.” Whether running a massive investment fund or just beginning to build your solo agency, taking time to protect your mental health is huge. Finding a relaxing hobby, taking time in nature, and surrounding yourself with good friends is an excellent way to keep you grounded and protect your mental health.

Deepak Jain is an independent blockchain publicist

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