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Starting a new venture is tough, but entrepreneurs are often less likely to complain. After all, to succeed, you have to be positive, right?

Following the death of Diaspora co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy, some are questioning whether those sorts of beliefs are dangerous, and a perhaps much-needed discussion is taking place about depression amongst entrepreneurs.

One of the questions this discussion raises is how entrepreneurs can ward off and cope with depression. Here are five tips.

Make sure your friends aren't all entrepreneurs.

If you're an entrepreneur, your ideal best friend may very well be another entrepreneur. After all, it's often easier to commiserate with people who are similar to you.

But don't isolate yourself from non-entrepreneurs. They can provide some much-needed balance and ensure that you don't get too caught up in the 'business is everything' mentality that so many entrepreneurs adopt to their detriment.

Work at a startup first.

If you don't know how to walk, trying to run will probably be pretty discouraging. It's no different with entrepreneurship. Before starting a company of your own, consider working at a startup.

You'll be in a better position to evaluate whether you're willing and able to strike out on your own because chances are you'll come out with a much more realistic understanding of what building a company is like. Hint: it's usually not easy and it's occassionally ugly.

Don't start a business to start a business.

Many entrepreneurs, particularly those who are younger, are in love with the concept of creating something from scratch. That's great, but if there's little more than that driving the decision to build a company, like a true passion for a particular industry or problem, chances are you'll find it more difficult to sustain yourself when you face challenges.

After all, if the business itself is the only source of your motivation, the thought that it might not materialize as expected can be even more difficult to deal with.

Wait to start a company.

In the world of technology, the stereotypical founder is a twenty-something wunderkind filled with ambition and talent that can negate his or her inexperience and lack of resources. In reality, however, most new businesses are not founded by young, inexperienced and financially unestablished individuals.

As such, it's worth being realistic: if you don't have much experience and you have limited financial resources, risking everything you have and everything you might otherwise have on a new company raises the stakes significantly. That, of course, can make the experience all the more difficult to cope with when (not if) you hit bumps in the road.

Don't start a company if you're not in a committed relationship.

On the surface, this may seem like an odd piece of advice, but there's evidence supporting it.

In the best-selling book, The Millionaire Next Door, researchers Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko found that having a supportive spouse was cited by the millionaires they interviewed as one of the most important success factors.

Lonely entrepreneurs should take heed; having someone who truly cares about you and who supports you unconditionally is perhaps one of the greatest antidotes to discouragement and depression.

Patricio Robles

Published 23 November, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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