Entrepreneurs enjoy what they do and more importantly have a healthy relationship with the ups and downs that accompany being a business owner. We recognize when it is time to call a friend, colleague or mentor, put a support system in place or just take a break and re-assess. But when the support, coping skills and self-care practices aren’t working can business owners open up about their spiralling emotions? Are entrepreneurs seeking help when the long hours, no regular pay cheque, trying to do it all are contributing towards some form of mental illness?
Unfortunately, the answer would seem to be “no” as many struggle behind closed doors. Media coverage around this issue is increasing but more needs to be more done. Well-known entrepreneurs should be honest about their journey or risk becoming part of the problem. The whole “You go, girl (or male equivalent), just follow your passion!” is overly idealistic and risky especially for the uninitiated.
We are transcending from a time when most people were employees to the age of self-employment which of course holds many advantages for the economy. The contributions of small businesses are vast. However, there is no litmus test for who becomes an entrepreneur so many are not properly prepared for the road ahead.
Entrepreneurial success and mental wellbeing are so much more than just feasibility studies and business plans. Other factors need to be in place to help with the emotional ups and downs.
When it comes to your mental health relationships with friends and family is powerful. Most importantly don’t be afraid to ask for help–see a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, stress or have been consistently overwhelmed or depressed.
The root of entrepreneurial worry is usually around money. A clear financial plan is vital. How much do you need to start? How much of your own money can you afford to invest? Don’t let friends and family invest as that can weigh heavily on you at 3 am or if they do make sure it is not more than they can afford to lose. Are you going to use outside investors, a business bank or your own bank? If you cannot answer any of these questions, you are not ready to go forward on your business path.
A healthy lifestyle is not a cliché when it comes to the mental, spiritual & physical health of the business owner. Exercise, diet, and adequate sleep all help as does cultivate an identity apart from your company. Volunteering, hobbies, travel everything that maintains your sense of balance as a well-rounded person are just as important as the hours spent in your home office or brick & mortar business.
Train your mental voice to be clear-sighted. Loss and failure will occur; steps taken in the name of business growth are governed by trial and error. You cannot be good at everything; hire, accept or ask for help. (If you cannot afford to pay for a needed service, look into possible ways to exchange services or products).
Those of us, who are established entrepreneurs can do our part to inform, empower and support new and struggling business owners through social media, talks, and articles or be available to meet for coffee if someone reaches out for help. Most importantly while remaining positive we must be honest and realistic in what we say and not glorify entrepreneurship. Ultimately it is a rewarding but challenging path.
Jill Crossland is a business and marketing consultant who can take your business and social media to the next level.