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Overcoming the trough of sorrow

By Caroline Gong | 2022 Marketing Intern

July 12, 2022

What is the “Trough of Sorrow”

Creating a new business is exciting and riveting. Especially in the beginning, startup founders are constantly learning new skills and honing their business ideas. However, when it is time to start the nitty-gritty work and tackle difficult conversations, motivation and morale tend to tank.

At LaunchX, we call this phenomenon the “trough of sorrow”. During the summer program, many Launchies will begin to experience this rough patch as early as the second week of camp as they begin to prototype and untangle financials. But all is not lost! Here are three tips from Laurie Stach, LaunchX’s founder and president, to help you navigate and escape the trough of sorrow.

#1 – Focus

The first step is to ensure you have a clear idea of the focused problem you are solving, and the vision for your company. Without this focus, you often get distracted by the challenges, like skiing into a tree when you can’t look away. Importantly, this must stay fixed. LaunchX, for example, has had the same vision from the beginning: preparing students for the future of work and growing their economic impact. This is the ‘why’ that the other components of the ‘how’ and ‘what’ like the entrepreneurship program components then enable.

#2 – Action

Brainstorm things that could allow you to make real progress now. The key here is real progress. This means to prioritize the actions that could get sales in the least amount of invested time. Each of your efforts should start to be weighed against their value for investment, where value (for the company) will come from how much value you create for the customer that you can capture in pricing, and investment may be either financial or your time.

#3 – Resilience

Finally, overcoming the trough of sorrow will require persistence. This will be persistence of mindset, coming up with additional tools and approaches, and time. Throughout this, it can be demoralizing to want to see numbers come in and have them not yet, and many get tempted to change things up entirely. You will need to rely on your support system and feedback to get through these ups and downs, and for honest feedback. Be resilient and creative in finding the right approach, assets, and attitude to get through if that’s what it takes!

Conclusion

The trough of sorrow is essentially a rite of passage for many entrepreneurs. All startup businesses undergo the challenging and grueling process of iteration, but it is this constant trial-and-error that enables companies to have direction and prosper. 

Overcoming the trough of sorrow has three critical parts. First, entrepreneurs must pinpoint and remember the “why” behind their business idea – what is the impact you want to make? Once this thesis is established, draft out actionable steps ranging from short- to long-term. Finally, know that this process will require patience and resilience; learn to forgive yourself if you make a mistake, and reach out to others for constructive criticism and support.

At LaunchX, not only do we equip our students with the skills necessary to start their businesses, but we also help them develop a mindset that will allow them to tackle and overcome any hurdles they may face.

For more blog posts and information about LaunchX, check out our website: https://launchx.com/

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