3 Secrets To Handle The Stress Of Starting A Company

BE FAITH: 3 Secrets to Handle the Stress of Starting a Company

(Image: iStock.com/dolgachov )

When I left Google in 2014 to found Abide, a tech startup on guided prayer, I had no idea how relentless the stress would be. When we still had no revenue, I needed to get my employees competitive salaries, to cover the cost of living in the pricey Bay Area. I owed investors hundreds of thousands of dollars before we had a single customer. Key influencers swore they loved our first product during trials, then didn’t use it in real life. A large business partner fell short on promises. And when our traffic took off, our servers overloaded, leading to 5:00 a.m. wake up calls, and long, hard days trying to right our infrastructure and keep our paying customers happy. On top of that, I have four kids and a wife to support.


Abide Eric's garage 2014 (1)
The early days: Working out of a garage


For the first time in my life, I started to have late nights of insomnia and would feel a knot of anxiety deep inside. I was facing the anxiety that impacts roughly one in three U.S. adults, but I was fortunate to have some secrets to help me through.

Since anxiety is one of the top issues our customers face, we’ve run numerous trials to help people pray through their worries and anxiety, with some very interesting results. Some of the best counters to anxiety rely on family and faith.

Here are three things to do when I am overwhelmed with anxiety:


1. Talk About It With Someone Who Cares

My wife, Nadia, is incredibly supportive. She believes in me and in my dreams. One day, Apple accidentally removed our app from iTunes and canceled purchases from tons of our subscribers. Nadia listened to me, shared my anger, helped me to laugh, made me homemade sushi, and encouraged me to keep fighting. Then, she prayed for protection from spiritual attack and that God would call his angels to protect me. These prayers brought me huge strength, which leads me to my second secret.


Ahlsten family in the snow. copy
Family support is everything. Here I am with my wife and four children


2. Take Time to Pray


Science shows that meditation and prayer are effective at lowering anxiety. Our studies and my own experience have shown three things about prayer that work.

  1. Consider the character of a loving God. Remember that God has plans for you to prosper (Jeremiah 29), God loves you with an everlasting love (Psalm 145), and God promises that no weapon formed against you will succeed (Isaiah 54).
  2. Name your worries and anxieties in prayer. Naming them helps take their weight off of your chest.
  3. Finally, when you name them, actively hand them over to God’s control. These simple steps are helping me live in confidence, boldness, and peace. With this confidence, I can face pretty much anything. Take a minute to try it for yourself.

Don’t know where to start in prayer? Try using Abide to pray through the scripture of I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”


Praying with a mentor during the company launch
Praying with a mentor during the company launch


3. Know When to Shut Off Your Work


Running a company is a multiyear marathon. Sprinting without breaks will burn you out of the race. Even though it’s hard to unplug from emails and chat, I shut off my phone in the evening to eat with my wife and kids. On weekends, I play soccer with my twin boys, Amani and Zeke. I also take long walks with my wife, bike with my children, and picnic in Golden Gate Park. These small acts help maintain balance and give perspective to my work.

These are three tools I use to manage never-ending wheel of work stress. What are some effective habits you use to manage stress? Would love to hear your perspective in the comment section.


To find out more about Abide, check it out in the App Store.