The blood boils, your heart's beating like a train, the sweat's dripping off your forehead and you're sat at the end of your bed staring at the clock that shouts that it's the middle of the night.
I've battled with stress and anxiety for the last seven years since starting a new business agency, Retriever, and I know that I'm my own worst enemy. How weird is that? I know what causes it but I keep making it happen...
As a business owner it's (or at least should be) inherent to work your arse off.
A great mentor of mine repeatedly tells me that I cannot sustain the pace at which I live my work life but I just don't seem to be able to stop myself.
In fact if I look back over the last 10 years I've really had very little in the way of switch-off time. Yes, plenty of days off but not really the breaks you need to truly recover and replenish. My wife has constantly reminded me that breaks from the business are like kids; there's never a right time to have them but once you do you never regret it.
Running a business is a full time job. No matter how much you love what you do it never leaves you alone. There are always so many things you have to do and consider.
• Making sure the pipeline is always full.
• Looking after the welfare of the team.
• Dealing with resourcing around sickness and holidays.
• Making sure clients are happy and getting what you promised them.
• Making the taxman happy and keeping him so!
Anyone who reads this that runs a business will know what I'm talking about. In fact I talk to business owners all the time that tell me they have been and do go through the same things.
So why do we keep doing it? What's the goal? When will it end?
I can't confess that I have a completely clear plan about my business and where I exit. I know that having built a team of twenty in the last four years means we are on the march.
We are doing great work for our clients; we're keeping them happy and the business is building. Most of all though I'm having a good time doing it but I know that it's stripping me bare and your business may be leaving you pretty knackered too.
I hope you're not reading this looking for answers about how I've managed to beat the stress and create a utopian work-life balance because I haven't. It's pretty much just hard graft but there are balances you and I can make.
Speaking of which, so far I haven't even made mention of my miraculous little family. My wife Jen has always been right by my side giving me the support and encouragement I've needed. She's seen the highs, the lows and the damage not getting the balance right can cause. Yet she's always the one when I'm sat with my head in my hands who says 'Your team need you -- keep going.'
My two sons are a genuine inspiration (and yes, I do miss more special assemblies than I get to) and actually they're a great leveler too. But in my opinion to get the best out of your work and your life you have to create a division but when you're run down and knackered that's always the hardest time to do it.
When I'm going at the right pace I can get home and pretty quickly switch off the work stuff but when I'm tired it kind of just eats away at me and actually you don't relax and you end up going to bed tense.
Therefore you don't sleep that well, you wake up tired and the cycle repeats itself.
So back to the question of why we do it.
Well, the answer is, of course, that we don't have to. No one is forcing us but when you're driven and entrepreneurial it's bloody hard to switch that off. It's like a competitive streak. Competitive with yourself and your market competitors but overall the real driver is the feeling of success. Knowing that you have won a client in stiff competition, getting that great result for your clients, producing a pitch document that you're proud of... the list goes on.
It can be a truly lonely business running a company so make sure you delegate, employ people that are better than you at their job and use any consultants that can make your life easier.
If you run you own business and have a similar story to share, do tweet me @MarkYoungNewBus.