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Dealing With Personal Adversity in the Midst of Startup

Vanessa Wade received a sickle cell anemia diagnosis shortly after quitting job to launch her startup.

When starting up Gamblino in June, 27-year-old Frank Wilson had a long list of things to do. Getting hit by a car wasn’t one of them.

A week after filing the articles of incorporation for the New York City based virtual-betting app maker, Wilson was struck by a car while leading a charity bike ride. He broke his leg in multiple places, shattered his ankle, bruised some ribs and it put him out of commission indefinitely. That presented serious problems for the fledgling company.

“The hardest thing has been traveling around our launch cities for our sales efforts,” says Wilson. “Getting through airports isn’t exactly fun and the titanium in my leg sets off the detectors every time.”

Between coping with car accidents and health troubles — and even damages caused by natural disasters like the hurricane that just clobbered the East Coast — the road to entrepreneurship is riddled with personal adversity. Of course, having to overcome such obstacles is fact of life for many, it can be downright hobbling for young entrepreneurs.

Not only might they not have health insurance, they could be majorly in debt and need to keep their fledgling venture going and growing to meet their payment obligations. Plus, without the right mentality, it’s easy to become despondent — not to mention, lose focus on your startup or even give up on your dream of entrepreneurship entirely.

To figure out how to avoid this fate, we asked three young entrepreneurs who’ve been struck by personal tragedies to kindly share how they coped — and even thrived — due to the experience.

1. Look to your network for support.
Networking isn’t just a way to cultivate professional contacts. The people you know and work with can provide the support you need when a crisis strikes.

After recently quitting her day job, Vannessa Wade was all set to relaunch Connect The Dots PR, the Houston-based PR firm that she initially launched in 2006, when she found out she had sickle-cell anemia. The crisis came out of nowhere, says the 31-year-old. But she powered through and continued with the relaunch — thanks in large part to asking her network for support.

“I talked about my journey, and, in return, I heard stories about how rare and beautiful things came out of ugly situations,” says Wade of her experience networking. That was uplifting, she says, adding: “When you learn about other people overcoming things, it can help you stay on the path to following your dreams.”

Read more: Entrepreneur


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