Starting and running your own small business is a real accomplishment. You’re raising and running out of cash, dealing with customers, building a team, growing before a competitor grabs the market. There’s never enough time in the day, and it can be difficult to turn off.
During all this activity, it’s hard to find the time to take a step back from what you do
It should come as no surprise that there is growing evidence that entrepreneurs are more vulnerable to mental illness than the general population.
Entrepreneurs and business owners would do well to recognise they have some unique stresses and occasionally step back and consider how these are impacting their mental or physical health.
Maybe your health is fine, but you’re not having as much fun running your own business as you should be, or you imagined it to be?
Here are 4 key areas to consider:
The Hamster wheel
One of the attractions for many entrepreneurs is independence. So it can be frustrating to find that you might have escaped the nine to five but are instead on it 24/7, running in the hamster wheel but not actually getting anywhere. Having to jump when your customers say jump and always feeling like you are just one phone call away from potentially losing their custom. This kind of frenzied non-stop activity and worry is hazardous for both your physical and mental health.
Portraying the right image
During much of this activity is the need to give off the right impression and look the part. Usually this is about creating or accentuating the positive, having it all together and not exhibiting fallibility. Some business owners will work (sometimes out of necessity) even on days that they are really unwell at the risk of looking too weak or vulnerable. If this is dissonant from your true feelings, this show can create feelings of shame and disconnection which can lead to feelings of being low or even depressed.
It can be lonely running a business by yourself. Not necessarily lonely in a physical sense, you might have a team, customers, suppliers – loads of people around. But no-one that shares the responsibility for employing others, creating a return on investors’ cash and has their reputation on the line.
A co-founder can be a huge benefit to mental health and wellbeing.
Not to say that doesn’t create its own challenges, like any close relationship, there are bound to be ups and downs, fallings out and making up. So open, honest communication is essential.
The self-worth tangle
Building a business can (and at some time should) become all consuming. Then it is all too easy for self-worth to become tied into a company’s success and lose sight of the bigger picture. An important question to ask yourself is what else in your life is important and how you are important to others?
In the worst cases an entrepreneur pulls back from loved ones or other sources of meaning such as travel, self-development, play and physical health. Over time, I’ve worked out that being physically fit has an exponential impact on my mood.
In conclusion, managing your time better so that you have clearly marked out down time along with time spent on other things of importance is essential if you want to have a life outside of your business. Making this time available also gives you a window to exercise and stay fit and healthy.
Time is the most valuable commodity we have and we must use it wisely to ensure we look after our wellbeing. Pursuing other hobbies and interests outside of work will mean that you are not solely defining yourself through your business and your sense of worth will not be so closely linked to the success or failure of your company.