Let’s face it, being an entrepreneur can be stressful to the point where sometimes it feels as though you want to pull your hair out. Operating your business can be much more than a career, a hobby, or something you do to generate an income. It can literally be your life, especially when your life savings are invested in the prospective growth of their operation. Your mind, soul, spirit, and emotional well-being is connected to the success or failure of your business.
If everything is going great, if customers are coming in, revenues streams are flowing, and profits are being generated, then amongst the stress you experience feelings of happiness.
However, if things aren’t going so great—if customers aren’t pouring in, your marketing campaigns aren’t working, your products aren’t selling, or operating costs are higher than expected—than you could easily fall into depression.
I want to stress the importance of keeping your mental and emotional health, as this is one area entrepreneurs tend to overlook.
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The Psychological Costs of Stress
While we all know about the typical costs of doing business, such as financing costs, marketing costs, labor costs, inventory costs, accounting costs, legal costs, etc., we don’t usually talk about the psychological costs as said costs can’t really be tied to an ROI analysis. But there are indeed psychological costs, as according to a April 2015 study done by Dr. Michael Freeman, a former CEO himself who serves on the faculty of the University of California:
- About 50% of entrepreneurs have or might have some sort of mental health condition
- About 30% of entrepreneurs are living with Depression
- About 29% of entrepreneurs have ADHD
- About 27% of entrepreneurs have Anxiety problems
These percentages are much higher than the general population, where only about 10% of people report having major depression related issues.
The bottom line is there’s a psychological price to pay for being an entrepreneur. In relation to some ways you as an entrepreneur could deal with some of these issues, I offer the following suggestions:
Therapist/Mental Health Counselor: There’s a stigma that if you have a therapist then you must be crazy. You don’t have to be insane, crazy, or bouncing off the walls to have a therapist. A therapist is someone that you can speak to privately who won’t spread all of your business to everyone the moment they become upset with you.
Sometimes just having someone to speak with can change your mood, as many times our depression, stress, and anxiety comes from believing we are alone in dealing with the various problems. In addition, if there are any serious mental health issues, they can be diagnosed by the professional, providing you additional assistance and support.
Form a Support Group: The truth is that you are not alone when it comes to many of the personal nuisances and mental health challenges that occupy many entrepreneurs today. So join a support group of fellow entrepreneurs or a group of people you trust that won’t be as judgmental on your performance and instead seek to build you up, inspire you, encourage you, celebrate your wins, and help you learn from your losses.
Multiple Streams Of Income: It was Warren Buffet that said you shouldn’t put all of your eggs into one basket in terms of income production. Have multiple streams of income, which can include your business(es) as well as paid W-2 work you might do for an employer. This will help lessen the burden, stress, pressure, and anxiety because if one income stream is suffering, you have the additional stream(s) to carry you through.
Have A Bigger Purpose: Have a bigger goal for why you conduct your operations, other than just doing it for money or ego purposes. Having a bigger purpose outside of money or production, allows you to relax more, enjoy the ride, and not be so down on yourself, especially considering the fact that you are doing this for much more than just the amount of money it generates.
Stop Comparing Yourself: Your business might actually be performing well, but then you get word that someone else’s business in a similar space is performing much better than yours. You immediately begin to wonder “what’s wrong with me?” This is the worst thing you can do when operating a business because no two business operations are the same. It’s similar to the sales profession, one sales rep could be doing pretty well in production, but compared to other sales reps in other territories, he might not be as high in production as they are. But the reality is that no two businesses and no two territories are the same. Have your own goals, plans, and forecasts based on the market, territory, and operations that you control, and stop comparing yourself to others.
You’re Human, Not A Machine
It’s hard to admit you struggle with stress and mental health issues. As entrepreneurs and business professionals, we are expected to be smart, strong, and resilient, operating under the mantra that: “No matter what comes our way, we can tackle it!”
We are supposed to be semi-machines, able to get up early and not stop working until way late into the middle of the night. We are supposed to produce, produce, produce, and never at any moment in time “admit” any sort of personal “weakness”. But the reality is that it’s time to mind our mental health. The reports done by Dr. Freeman are real and if we leave this area of our lives unchecked, it can lead to potential disaster.
As a B2B sales professional for nearly 11 years now, I personally struggle with some of the listings within this article, including depression, stress, and anxiety. When things are progressing in my sales pipeline, I am in almost a state of euphoria. But when there are delays, setbacks, and when deals are lost, sometimes I want to lock myself in a room and not come out.
While everyone knows John Tucker to be smart, strong, and resilient, I have occasionally utilized mental health counselors in some capacity over the years, even if it means just having someone there to “rant to.” And it’s my recommendation that you as an entrepreneur, dealing with all of the various nuisances of running a business and the toll it could take on you personally, do what you can to monitor your mental health too.