Entrepreneurship is often a love/hate relationship. You begin because you’re passionate, hardworking, and driven to follow your dreams. But once you start, you begin to feel burnt out, overworked and seeking the motivation to keep going.
However, we don’t usually see this picture painted for us in the world of business. Entrepreneurship and start-ups are often glamorized with stories of high-rising success. But underneath, the stories and struggles of these entrepreneurs run much deeper and darker.
The startup game can be emotional and tireless. And it’s something that a lot of people don’t plan for when they’re starting out on a new business venture. Rather, they plan for the predictable factors such as a flexible business model, ways to beat out their competition, and how they will change the market by bringing something new and innovative to the table.
So, when things start to fall apart right at the start, what do you do?
Why Startups Are Mentally Tolling
First, it’s important to understand why exactly startups are mentally tolling. Why they make us want to rip out our hair but keep driving forward despite that.
Being an entrepreneur is something that the driven are cursed with the desire to do. If you have high goals, chances are you don’t want to work helping someone create their dream. You want to create your own. But, this requires a lot of work on your part.
There’s no doubt that doing the work is rewarding. But it’s also exhausting. You need to make decisions about everything that is happening for your company. And that takes a lot of brainpower. Which you have to consider, is brainpower that would normally be used elsewhere.
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs have to change their lifestyles and priorities. Not just because their brain is being used for the good of the company, but also because their time is being put elsewhere.
Selfcare and relationships take a backseat in the world of entrepreneurship. That means saying ‘goodbye’ to dinner with friends every Friday, that regular mani-pedi on your bi-weekly agenda, and attending all of your son’s basketball games.
The financial risk of a startup is usually planned for at the beginning of an entrepreneur’s journey. But the amount of money that pours into a new business is oftentimes more than one would expect and plan for.
It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to draw funds from resources other than their investors. This very well may include their personal savings or other forms of personal income in order to get their business off the ground and running.
Most entrepreneurs account for unpredictability in the financial aspects of their startups. But, that doesn’t mean it’s any less stressful. Financial woes can hinder a person’s ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, have poor effects on their self-esteem, and make them feel stuck within the game of business.
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An entrepreneur who is devotedly married to their work tends to have their business hat on at every hour of the day. Vacations, weekends, and downtime are a thing of the past when you start building a business. And that’s because of how much work it takes to properly develop the aspects of your company.
Answering emails in the middle of the night, talking business over breakfast, and skipping the gym for a conference call are all too common in the world of entrepreneurship. These simple tasks may seem like innocent ways to keep the momentum of the startup going strong, but they are actually quite detrimental to mental, emotional, and physical health.
By working throughout all hours of the day, you are not allowing yourself time to breathe, refocus, and refresh. Without refocusing, you are actually at risk of making spontaneous and poor business decisions. So by depriving your body of the rest it needs, you are also depriving your business.
With more rest time to balance your work hours, you will inevitably make more intelligent and thoughtful decisions that the future of your company depends on.
The life of an entrepreneur can be pretty lonely at times. And there are a few reasons for that.
When you are building a business, as previously stated, you are dedicating all of your time. This means the time that you would normally spend with family and friends is drastically cut from your life. For some, this is easier than others. But for many, it could have a huge impact on mental and emotional health.
Owning a start-up can also be lonely because you are in charge. Being the top-dog oftentimes means hiding emotions from your team. As a leader, there is natural pressure to be calm, cool, and collected. A leader doesn’t want their team to know that there are financial issues or major concern about the company’s mission in relation to the decisions their making. Leaders want to display a confident smile to their employees. But those smiles are often hiding secret worries that when bottled up have health effects on the wearer.
Not being able to properly share, analyze, and iterate concerns to others is a pressure that is overwhelming. Everyone, even leaders, should have someone to talk to about these mind-filling problems. But most times in the land of startups, there is no one to discuss with, leaving the leader feeling lonely and drowning in their emotions.
Mental, Emotional, and Physical Health Concerns
There are many mental, emotional, and physical health concerns that derive from building a business.
The feeling of loneliness and isolation can oftentimes lead to depression. This depression can come in the form of mania, affecting the individual through highs and lows. For example, a depressed overworked leader may suddenly get a high from signing on a new investor. This ‘high’ could make them completely forget about how terrible they were feeling beforehand. The high-low imbalance is part of what keeps entrepreneurs moving forward, even when their business is causing them great distress most of the time.
Furthermore, science has confirmed that depression can lead to physical ailments such as fatigue, decreased pain tolerance, muscle pain, headaches, vision problems, and stomach issues such as pain and digestive problems.
For anyone, financial issues can bring on major stress and affect a person’s ability to sleep, eat, and think clearly. And leaders are no exception. These constant financial hurdles can do a number on both physical and mental health, which in fact makes it harder to make intelligent decisions regarding your business. In order to think smart, you have to give your body what it needs.
Not only do financial issues bring about stress, but they can also bring about anxiety. And this anxiety doesn’t improve by working at all hours of the day to try to make up for the money being lost. Actually, it makes it much worse. By putting in extra hours, mentally and physically, you drown yourself emotionally into the pool of stress, causing even more anxiety, worry, and fear.
Like depression, anxiety and stress have physical side-effects that can be negatively lifechanging. Studies have shown that anxiety and stress have been linked to long-term, sometimes irreversible, diseases such as gastrointestinal disorders, chronic respiratory disorders, and heart disease.
It is clear that the time leaders passionately and tirelessly put toward their business ventures is time that is being taken away from the span of their lives.
What Can You Do To Cope?
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Just like life, the business world is not all black and white. There are a lot of gray areas too. And those gray areas are what leaders need to examine in order to decide – is this all worth it?
This big yet simple question is vital to keeping you healthy and sane while building a business. By identifying the gray areas in your life and business, you will likely begin to see how you can make this passionate goal of yours worth it once again.
In order to do this, you must analyze what is serving you and what isn’t. Things that could have served you at the beginning of your new business may not serve you all the way through. For example, during the first year of building your business, you may have enjoyed handling operations. During the second year though, you may decide that your time is better spent on signing with investors or dealing with customer relations.
This brings up another point: learning how to delegate. By learning how to put tasks onto others in your company, your workload will not only decrease but it will simplify. This will help to keep your mind focused and clear. Having your head in too many places at once may be necessary, at first. But once you start to grow a team, it is beneficial to put your efforts toward specific tasks and delegate the overflowing tasks onto other team members.
To cope on a personal level, leaders should practice regular exercise and healthy eating to stay immune to illness, and both mentally and physically fit. Regular exercise and healthy eating help to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and positively affect overall mood.
Rest is also extremely vital to the entrepreneur’s health. Without rest, your mind and body will start to fail, which is a worst-case scenario for a leader building a startup. The leader needs to stay sharp, refreshed, and focused in order to reach end goals.
- Why are startups mentally tolling?
Startups are mentally tolling for many reasons including mental and physical exhaustion, lifestyle changes, and mental illness that may lead to physical ailments.
- How does losing money affect entrepreneurs?
Losing money can create financial stress on the individual. It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to draw from personal savings to fund their businesses.
- How does working 24/7 affect entrepreneurs?
Working at every hour of the day can have negative effects on a business owner’s personal relationships, as well as have an impact on their physical, mental, and emotional health.
- How does loneliness affect entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs often feel lonely because not only are they constantly working, most times solo, but they are also trying to mask their feelings of uncertainty from their team. This can cause them to feel as if they are all alone.
- What are the mental, emotional, and physical health concerns of entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs encounter many mental, emotional, and physical issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, digestive issues, headaches, and more.
- How can you learn to cope?
Coping with the stresses of a start-up is best done with a combination of a healthy diet, rest, and exercise as well as proper delegations to other members of the team.