I couldn't do it all myself but I couldn't give up any control

I am alone and do nothing but work. To save money, I moved back home and feel like a child again. I fight to get out of bed everyday because the amount of things I have to do is overwhelming. My sales were over $150K, but I don’t want to hire anyone else; no one could do things better than me.

As sales continued to grow, I simply couldn’t cope. I hired a fulfillment company to handle the packaging and delivery. I visited them twice a week. Sales were then over $225k and I couldn’t keep track of everything. My accounts were months behind and emails went unanswered, so I decided to hire a part-time assistant.

She was a new mom so it could have been ideal. As soon as we started working together, I became critical of almost everything she was doing. I didn’t want to do things her way and I told her so. Sometimes she was late for meetings and sometimes she did things without asking me first. After six months, she quit. She felt she could never do anything right and that I didn’t trust her.

By this time, sales had grown again, invoices were in boxes, and it took me a week to fulfill an order. The website looked old and I had to update the product catalogue at least once a week as items sold out. This month, 35% of the products have a “sold out” tag on them.

My parents suggested I move out and that I needed an office.  I found a place that was big enough to act as an office and to live in. I moved all my things there.

I tried to hire someone to work with me but couldn’t find anyone good enough. Some people didn’t want to work where I lived. Others wanted too much money. I needed help but I also couldn’t let go. I had to control everything.

The business was in chaos and service levels were really poor. The repeat purchases began to fall away. For the first time in three years sales stopped growing. I had become the problem.

I felt proud but so alone as a CEO until I joined a club for startup CEOs

I was the only one left in the office. It was past 11pm and I was tired. I looked around at all the desks and work spaces and thought how far we had come in the last year. I was proud and elated, but I also feel profoundly lonely. We had come a long way, but I felt like all the ideas and emotions has been drained out of me. I was giving everything I had and I was getting very little back. Yes, people appreciated what I was doing but I was the boss and I was becoming increasingly distant from my team. I felt I could no longer ask them for advice. It would be a sign of weakness.

We had investors and I have to deal with them. I also deal with all the larger sales accounts and the Board. All of this is taking increasing amounts of time. These relationship are often characterized by conflict and they are taking a toll on my nerves. I am always stressed out.

My wife looks after the children and has a part-time job so I can’t burden her with all this. I can’t talk tp my parents and my friends think I am some type of superman for getting this far and I don’t want to destroy that illusion.

As I sat there, my loneliness became overwhelming. I heard about a club for startup CEOs where people share stories and experiences. I attended a dinner and in one night, I realized that I was not alone anymore.

I want to start my own business but I know it's going to be lonely

After university, I wasn’t sure what to do. I really wanted to start my own business and work for myself, but I didn’t have a business concept developed yet so I went to work for a local bank. I didn’t enjoy the work but thought it would give me the time to develop a business.

I was at the bank for a year when I was offered a promotion and a chance to work in England. I thought this would be great experience and so off I went. I spent three years in London and learned a lot and developed a strong network there.

I returned home and went back to work at the bank. I was bored but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start my business. I was scared and knew starting something on my own would be lonely. I couldn’t see myself sitting by myself everyday.

I spent two more years at the bank and nothing really changed. Yet, I still could not make the move to break away from the bank. I keep telling my friends I wanted to started my own business but after a while they stopped listening.

I feel like nothing is going right. How can I make things better?

I want to work for myself and make a difference with my business. But it’s been an incredibly stressful two years, far worse than college. I lay awake at night thinking about everything I have to do the next day and beyond. I already work more than 80 hours a week and never get a day off. My life is a roller coaster. I’m not getting enough sleep and that affects my decision-making.

I often feel like I’m screwing up or not doing as well as someone else would do. I hate collecting payments, so some months I can’t pay myself. I have to make decisions that I sometimes don’t really understand – especially in technology. I get different answers from different people and don’t know who to ask to get knowledgeable answers. Even the people who work with me give me different answers. I’ve hired five people and three have already left.

What am I doing wrong? What can I do to make things better?