You are an entrepreneur.
You seem to have it all. You work when you want to work, you choose where you want to work, answer to no one, and are in control!
Why would you have mental health concerns as an entrepreneur? Well, for a lot of reasons and none of them are listed above, right? Did you know that entrepreneurs work well over forty hours a week, sometimes up to eighty hours, to keep their companies going?
You answer to customers and vendors at all hours of the day. You feel responsible for your staff being able to live and support their families. You especially know that little money goes in your pocket, especially early in the startup process. Most money made goes back into the business or to pay off debts or expand.
So maybe it’s not all fun and exciting especially seeing as 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by mental health disorders but that doesn’t stop you from trying over and over to succeed, does it?
The vision you have for your company can actually make a difference in someone else’s life. If you are fighting those initial feelings of anxiety or depression or just feeling overwhelmed, that is common for many entrepreneurs. Sometimes it is these feelings that can drive an entrepreneur to success.
But you must first gain an awareness of mental health and develop a plan to overcome such obstacles should they appear.
1. Mental Health Facts & Statistics
One in four adults experience mental illness, according to data published by NHS England. This shows just how common mental health conditions are. However, self-employed people have a lower sickness absence rate than employees in general (1.4% for self-employed, 2.1% for employees). One reason for this difference could be that business owners feel less able to take sick leave, including that which is needed for mental health reasons.
In 2018, the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards conducted its Mental Health in Entrepreneurship survey, with 100 entrepreneurs taking part. Here, we highlight some of the findings from the research:
- 58% of those surveyed experienced mental health issues
- The conditions included anxiety (21%), depression (19%) and stress (41%)
- 55% of respondents said that running a business has had a negative impact on their mental health
2. Common causes
When you’re first starting out, it’s likely you’ll need to put in a certain number of hours to get your business off the ground. However, too many long days and not enough time away from the office can take its toll. This over-working can lead you to experience complete burnout.
Becoming your own boss means stepping away from the routine of regular employment. And, unless you have a co-founder, this means going it alone. The pressure of being responsible for every decision can be intimidating.
Lack of support networks and structure
In addition to potentially being the only person in your company (especially in the beginning), you may find yourself without the day-to-day camaraderie of colleagues or the structure of an office – both of which can have an adverse effect when removed. Create your own accountability team or join a mastermind group with WomenAmbition to help combat this → check out our Plant / Grow Membership!
Many people dream of running their own businesses, yet not everyone takes that leap. So if you do, there can be a certain pressure to make it feel like you’re living the dream every single moment of the day – that everything’s going great, always. That could be in terms of how you act and talk about your business, as well as how you look and present yourself to the world.
Money and finance
Whether you’re funding your business yourself, have borrowed through loans, or received grants, how the numbers add up is one of the key concerns for any business. Therefore, worrying about how your business will stay afloat can be a significant stressor for many small business owners.
When you’re a startup founder, so much of who you are is tied up with what your business does. So if your business should come under threat, or it’s no longer a viable option, then you could feel the effects not only professionally, but personally too. It’s so important to not allow yourself to connect self-worth with your business idea, it will evolve and change and may even fail but it will lead you to new projects and ideas. Be very mindful of how you define yourself to avoid this mistake.
No one sets out thinking that their business will fail. But we have to be realistic – some businesses won’t be successful. While what it means to be a success is a topic for another discussion entirely, in this instance, when a business fails – for whatever reason – it can seem like the end of your world.
3. Strategies and Solutions
This refers to breaks throughout your working day, as well as taking holiday leave. Only 31% of entrepreneurs take full and regular lunch breaks, according to the Mental Health in Entrepreneurship survey.
Form a network
Whether that’s attending professional networking sessions, chatting with your other co-workers, or attending a Meetup or other informal gathering or event, it can be helpful to have other people around you who understand the demands of running your own business.
For example, consider running your business from a co-working – this will provide both a dedicated work area, and a readymade community of fellow freelancers and entrepreneurs. Joining the WomenAmbition community and finding people in your city can help to ease the ups and downs of the startup journey!
Get regular sleep
In an effort to simply have more hours in the day, maintaining a regular sleep schedule with a sufficient amount of rest can often be one of the first things that falls by the wayside.
With thoughts racing around your head about the day that’s been, or what’s coming up, the inability to sleep can make matters seem even worse. Ensuring you’re getting enough sleep every night is vital.
Looking after your mental health can also be connected to caring for your physical health. Exercise causes a reaction in your body which releases endorphins. These hormones help to make you feel more positive and energized, and so exercise is thought to help mild anxiety, depression and stress – as well as promote improved self-esteem.
Whether you want to go for a run by yourself to clear your head, or take part in a group class and meet like-minded people, there are a number of different ways to incorporate exercise into your life.
Work life balance
Running your own business can be all-consuming, and it can be difficult to separate work and home. This is especially the case if you run a home-based business, or work with family members.
Therefore, creating a distinction between the two is key: ideally, have your home office in a separate part of your home, or set a time for stopping work-related talk.
Similarly, be sure to prioritize having dinner at home, or spending time with your children, partner or friends. Let loose and laugh a little!
If you recognize that you’re not feeling as great as you would like to, then it may be possible to help yourself.
You can read up on the subject, and find self-help books that can guide you through the process of addressing any issues you may be facing. Some of our favorite books are:
- The Power of Now
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
- The Obstacle is the Way
- The Power of Habit
- The Four Tendencies
Similarly, online services and apps can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of stress and other conditions.
Get professional help
Just like with physical health, sometimes things get better by themselves – perhaps with some assistance by yourself.
But some illnesses require specialist knowledge, and it’s the same with mental health. If you feel like you’re not coping well, or you’re not seeing the results you’d like to, reach out to a professional for expert advice and treatment to help you heal. Our minds deserve as much attention as our bodies, seeking professional help can be the change you need in your life to start living fully and feeling better. It can be a challenge to find the right therapist or psychologist but you can start by:
- Asking friends and family if they have a good referral
- Reaching out to a community like WomenAmbition for referrals
- Talking to your insurance company to see what professionals are included in your plan
- Using a tool like TalkSpace to find a therapist online
- Looking online for local mental health professionals and reading online reviews
Build up an accountability team
Everyone is motivated in different ways. We at WomenAmbition strongly believe in the Tendency Framework. We usually fit into one of four Tendencies: the Obliger, the Rebel, the Questioner, and the Upholder. The Tendencies are referred to as such because they describe the way people tend to respond to expectations placed on them by others – or by themselves.
We strongly encourage you to take the quiz, to figure out your tendency. When you belong to the groups Obliger, Upholder or Questioner a team which pushes you to reach your goals would be really helpful to get things done. Check out our Plant Membership with the option of forming your own accountability group! Our accountability groups consist of women just like you, which are in the same stage of their business.
We have all kinds of approaches and tips in stock, including techniques to reduce stress and tricks to promote mental health in the office. So if you are interested hang on and accompany us during September!