Entrepreneur’s IllnessMay 08, 2011
For Icelandic entrepreneurs the economic crisis of 2008 was like a kick in the balls. The only difference was that if it had actually been a kick in the balls it would only have lasted a few minutes while they rolled on the ground in pain. Even now, three years later, many entrepreneurs are still lying on the ground aching in pain after the painful kick of the crisis.
Of course this situation has impacted different types of entrepreneurs in different ways. I myself had been very much involved with the Real Estate market owning a few rental properties. The properties all had positive income and I actually thought I was doing very well. When the economic crisis came my equity in these properties disappeared and worse then that I was left with properties where I owed more then their actual value. I went from owning equity to owning debt.
This was a big shock for me since I had for the past years worked very hard on acquiring these properties and had spent all my money on buying them.
There was no easy escape for me, the properties and the loans were in my name I couldn’t really walk away from them without declaring myself bankrupt. That would have meant 7 years without being able to own anything. The worst thing about it was the uncertainty, not knowing what was going to happen. There was talk on the news of possible solutions for people and families but that was only talk and there were never any actual solutions.
I have been in business now for over 10 years and I have also talked with many entrepreneurs over the years. What I have realized is that there is an illness out there that mostly affects entrepreneurs; I call it the Entrepreneur’s Illness. It is what happens when you put all your belief, energy, money and hope into your work. You start working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week and your life slowly starts to revolve around work. Living a very unstable life, never really knowing if your going to be able to pay your rent or if your company is going to survive to the end of the year.
When you put that much energy into a project it starts to drain energy from you so you have to take days off from work every month or two. Your not really sick but you just have the need to lie in bed for 2-3 days doing absolutely nothing except maybe watching South Park trying to empty your head and recharging your batteries. It is not a very dangerous Illness but I think it is important for entrepreneurs to realize that this is normal. Your mind and your body have to rest every once in a while and especially if you’re taking on all the responsibility that often comes with being self-employed.
The problem many entrepreneurs in Iceland are now facing is that still now three years after the crash they are still living in uncertainty. The bank has a hold over there future telling them that they owe the bank much more then the actual value of there companies or properties. With all this pressure and uncertainty they find themselves influences by the entrepreneurs illness even more then usually. There energy drained by the government and the banks that are not willing to help them out of the situation. So they are left without the power to achieve something and without the will to continue with their business since they see no end in sight.
Entrepreneurs are Iceland’s greatest hope but they have been kicked in the balls and no one is helping them get up again.
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