the best ingredient when growing a startup

I love the term ingredients. It sounds delicious and smooths out the rough sound of technical terms. Growing a startup needs a lot of ingredients, and if you’re looking from the entrepreneur’s point of view, the list of them should be generous. I mean there are so many ingredients that can set you up for success or failure that a seasoned entrepreneur becomes a complicated dish.

It’s a Mindset Game

Since my orientation is the mindset, we won’t talk about paperwork and bureaucracy. Those are must-haves, unavoidable, fixed stuff. Those are the same for each with country variations of course. But you in your own field in your country will deal with the same steps as others. That won’t differentiate you much.

But your mindset will. Because it gives you all those trump cards which can set you apart as a successful company or another failed one.

Going through multiple startups myself and having one right now I must say I went through all those dark roads faced by most of the entrepreneurs. If not all. There are of course several tips and tricks about entrepreneurship and how can you have a promising start.

This time though I want to point out my number one skill I’ve learned during all these years that I consider right now the number strength to have as soon as possible; even though if you are young it can be challenging. But if you integrate this into your mindset, you’re up to something amazing.

The Power Ingredient

Let’s name this power ingredient, the saffron of entrepreneurship. It’s called thick skin. Yeep. I cannot imagine anything more important for me now than this. Everything else can be handled if you have your thick skin on.

Because let’s see. Any startup is like a complex puzzle, you can see the final picture, but you still need to connect the parts. Right? When you start out you have infinite things to do, handle, overcome. Going through all those initial steps where to your max frustration many are not in your power, you just need to treat them to start the right way.

Then you need to find and blend a team in case you’ll have employees. Then you need to set up an infrastructure, a rhythm. A complex machine that can work in good order, otherwise, you’re just an adventurer, and your startup is a jungle, it can eat you up pretty soon.


Let’s name some of the challenges. Shall we?

Your perfect timing for each step faces set back independent of you. Papers are not ready in time, you missed a couple of details no one told you about. You’re envisioning the final part, and yet you’re struggling with small details that were never even in your mind.

The road gets longer, and you lose yourself in peculiar tasks. You do have help but, those who are meant to do their part are not involved as you do, so for them, nothing is an emergency. It’s not their company. So? You need to step up your personal leadership.

Same with your initial team. You’re dreaming about finding the best people and create a positive picture of everyone you meet. You’ll soon find out that finding the right people has nothing to do with CV’s, talent, or skill. It’s a complex mix that needs to suit you as a person, the entrepreneur.

They need to share the same values; otherwise, they’ll become a pain, you know where. Staring over with new employees, learning from your mistakes is not an easy pie. You do it anyway. Some sooner, some delaying the agonizing moment.

All these hustles wear you out, and you get yourself further apart from your dream. They are exhausting. There are moments when you forget why you are doing this. Those are the real struggles of an entrepreneur at the beginning.


Not to mention, since your business is new, no one acknowledges you like a big shot. So you’re not important to anyone. And so you face also attitudes, humiliation, secret smiles behind your back. People who don’t share your vision doesn’t understand it. You’re being ridiculed, many times by your close friends or family. Even your new employees are acting like they are all God. How embarrassing. Right?

You didn’t prove anything yet, you’re just starting. And seeable improvements are nowhere around in one week, one month or six months. Can you see why many businesses fail before they start?

But that’s no wonder because the school doesn’t teach you how to become an entrepreneur. If anything, it teaches you the opposite. How to play within the lines, how to comply, when entrepreneurship has nothing to do with any of these.

Thick Skin

And so, the thick skin comes into play. I repeat. If you can learn this early in life, you are so much ahead of the vast majority. I can guarantee you this.
How to gain think skin.

You need to become your best friend. We all need to rely on someone. But when we start a business many times is no one who can envision 100% percent of what we are up to. Or they don’t believe in you, or your plan. It doesn’t even matter.

What you need is to erase all those factors out of your control. As many as you can. If you cannot delete the legal steps and everything I said before, you can erase the expectations from others. Don’t expect them to sustain you, to help you, to trust you. Just don’t. But you also need someone to rely on the right? Yeep. It’s you.

Your Best Friend

So make a commitment to become your best friend and never let yourself down. You can count on yourself. You see the big picture. You’re the most competent one for the job.

Every time when something goes in the wrong direction or someone treats you like you’re nothing, turn to your best friend. You. Tell him or her, Hey, chill, they don’t see what you see. Nothing that happens right now won’t determine the final outcome. You can take it. It’s your dream. Make it happen. Who laughs at last laughs harder? Or best revenge success. Or any other motivational quote that inspires you.


If you want my current mindset in such instances, for me any setback gives me 10 times the energy because it makes me stronger. I’m like, “Ok so this happened. Or, ok, so you do this now to me. Well, thanks. Now I am actually busy to prove you wrong. I don’t even care to prove anyone wrong anymore, but sounds powerful. It’s about, I have other things to do to lose my time in this situation.

If something is more sensitive or painful, I shake myself, breathe, slow down a bit to relax and think, than go full gear ahead.

It’s about the thick skin I grew on the way. You can touch me, but it won’t last. I mean, you can still make me feel in a negative way, but that effect can last max 10 minutes in the worst-case scenario. Seriously. You need to do a lot of damage to make me lose myself for more than 10 minutes.

Gary Vee?

Anyone can do it. I’m not Gary Vee – to not be touched at all. My education was a bit different, to say it mildly. I still care, but 1% compared to how I cared 20 years ago. And I’m working on my zero percent. I’ll get there, trust me.

Charm Your Fears

If you’re determined to get rid of something or improve in any area, you can with discipline and conscious work. As soon as you feel hit by something, the first thing is to acknowledge it, expose it to yourself, your best friend. Everything exposed loses its power. This is so true. Amazingly true.

So, expose it first – consciously. Look at it, analyze it like you have a microscope. Think about it like a foreign object, something that is not you, it’s an infection you can treat. Ok, this sounds a bit morbid. It’s an alien object which altered your optimal state.

Then comes a chit chat with your best friend. Where you’re talking about the final goal, vision, mission…“Do you remember my friend where you wanna go? You’re on the way but still not there.” So it’s normal to face different landscapes. This is one. Just move forward and let this place behind. Go closer to your goal. Noone and nothing can stop you without your will. Make yourself accountable for everything.

This comes with a thick skin package. Because having a thick skin means somehow you created a circumstance where this noise, set back could enter in your plan. Expose it, learn from it, and move forward.

Control Your State

The most powerful method to achieve anything in life, including thick skin, is to be in control of your states. Your state is designed by emotions and physiology. As soon as you can control your emotions and physiology you’ll control your behavior because the behavior is the ultimate visible part of what’s going on inside your mind which translates in emotions and body language.

And depended on your feelings you will act. Once your thick skin is in place, your inner state will be something like chill, cool, under control, under your control. And as you can presume the physiology for such a state is a straight back, heads up or horizontal, slow deep breathing, laser vision into the future.

Another quick and super-efficient way to alter your state in the right direction is to search YouTube about your issue. In 10 minutes with the right video or videos, you should be ready to roll. Ok, if you need more no problem. You’re doing something, you’re acting the right way, not letting your state to put you down into a depression.

As long as you keep a state in your life, as powerful it is. So why not shake the bad states as soon as possible and take over with the right states shaping the powerful mindset with that think skin on top which will lead you anywhere, without fail.

Final Thoughts

Ok. So I hope I gave you the inspiration to boost yourself up and start building your startup without letting anything and anyone to eat up your energy and make you give up.

It’s also helpful to know that similar to my story or ideas, you are not alone. Every startup entrepreneur went through a certain kind of hell. It’s unavoidable. Unless you’re living in a Lala Land in which case professional help is needed.

Otherwise, it’s just part of the journey. And with thick skin, the journey can even become fun, because this time you’re armed with the right mindset, attitude, behavior gaining total control as the final cherry on the pie.

Originally published at


  • Dr. Cristina Imre

    Executive Coach & Mentor for Startup Founders & Executives | Serial Entrepreneur


    Throughout her career, Cristina has been focused on the idea of building and leaving a lasting legacy. For that, quality, purpose-driven, empathic leadership is needed at the top. An entrepreneur at heart, problem solver, executive by action, mindset expert as the usual self. The nonconventional way in which she combined experience and experiments became her hallmark. Cristina Imre served as a leader and executive in multiple industries, including, (but not limited to), healthcare, e-learning, banking, call centers and manufacturing, AI, real estate, financial services, marketing, sales, etc. Worked with multiple startups, SMB's and multinational distributed teams. By breaking down dysfunctional patterns in business, career, and personal life, she stresses the importance of self-improvement at any level. Through her two decades of research, testing, and application of unique and classical methods on business and leadership development, Cristina gained a unique insight into the world we live in and how we function as humans. Quoting her: "Our future is unwritten, and we can only move forward or regress by not improving ourselves, not learning from our history, and not thinking long-term. There is no middle road." Feel free to message her directly through LinkedIn if you sense there is a synergy to explore. P.S. She also wrote 4 books (2 non-fiction, 2 fiction) and you can find her articles around the web and her views on her social media channels, especially YouTube.