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 all of the money made goes into your own bank account.
Why would you have mental health concerns? Well, for a lot of reasons and none of them are listed above, right? You know that in fact, entrepreneurs work well over forty hours a week, sometimes eighty hours, to keep your 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 yes, entrepreneurs, you, may have 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 normal for most 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.
Your Mental Health As An Entrepreneur
If you didn’t have feelings of worry, stress or anxiety when starting a business then you would possibly be the only entrepreneur like this. It is actually quite normal and mentally healthy to have these emotions. When you care deeply about anything, you have a fear of losing it, even if it is slight. You are going to have those moments where a person asks for your expert opinion and you look around the room to find the expert. Guess what? You are the expert. It is important to believe that you are capable, you will find the money, and you will attract customers. If you don’t believe these things, no one else will.
You will also need to be aware that there may be times when you struggle with mental health disorders. There is a claim that entrepreneurs with mental health disorders have given nicknames such as “founder’s blues” or “startup depression” to their disorders. In fact, many entrepreneurs have reported one, sometimes two or more mental illnesses. These disorders typically include attention deficit disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and even substance abuse. Some of the greatest leaders in history struggled with both mental health and drug abuse problems. Yet, they succeeded anyway. Do not try to overlook any mental struggle you may have. Tackle it head on and become one of the people on this list.
Having a mental illness is not always a negative thing. If you know your mental health, you can learn to take care of it and use it to your benefit. Founder’s blues happens to an entrepreneur when they don’t take the time to properly care for their mental health when building a business. You can avoid this, however.
Where there are negative mental health assets there are also positive. Psychologist John Gartner implies entrepreneurs have both positive and negative mental health traits, some of which are creativity and high energy which usually pair with negative traits of arrogance and impatience. What are your traits? Take this self assessment to get an idea.
You, and all business owners, are fueled with energy and want that to be contagious among others in the company. You can burst into the office, throw out ideas, give crazy deadlines, and then leave for a meeting with another executive to discuss more business ideas. You are like a passion filled tornado, fascinating and scary, brilliant and mad, all at the same time. These traits are what make entrepreneurs so great.
The Lure of Starting Your Own Business
Entrepreneurship can mean many different things to many different people.
For some, it means starting an online business. For others, it means opening up a brick and mortar store. If you are an entrepreneur, owning your own business is something you are not willing to trade. Not even for a stable paycheck and health insurance, which are both very rare for most entrepreneurs. You won’t even trade it for less stress and less emotional distress. The mere thought of having to go back to working for someone else’s business is dreadful.
It represents imprisonment that involves working for little while others get rich. While some enjoy working nine to five for “the man”, entrepreneurs find little peace in it.
“Doesn’t work well with others” is a statement used to describe some entrepreneurs.
For the most part, this is true. Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to work for others. There is a need for control, you don’t totally trust others, and you like to have the applause of others when things go well. It is also hard for you to sit idly by and watch the injustices that can go on in someone else’s business. This can be the start of mental illnesses in some. They get depressed, feeling like they can’t make any changes for the better in the company. They get angry and even feel anxious about their future.
Eventually you leave for something better. Many times that something better is your own business.
What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur
If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, or even if you already own your own business, it is important for you to self-assess your abilities.
Be honest with yourself about your good and not so good qualities. You have to be aware of these before opening a business so you can plan ahead for anything that may arise. Surprises are not good when building a startup.
Some entrepreneurs feel a lot of pressure to succeed.
This is a good thing.
It is that pressure that keeps you working hard and makes you get up each morning and fight another day.
Mental health problems have corresponding strengths that can help you succeed in business.
Just as you would operate with a business plan, you should also operate with a mental health plan. Get to know your triggers. Be proactive and take preventative measures to ensure overcoming any mental health obstacles. Without a plan like this, what will happen to your business when you are having a mental health crisis and can’t function? The customers want their items, investors want their money, and staff needs their leader. Be prepared for every mental health situation so that if a crisis does appear, your business can operate without you for a while.
It’s Like Gambling
Starting a business can be exhilarating. Just like when you go to the casino.
You go in there knowing you have to take risks to win big. You roll the dice and hold your breath to see if your numbers land on the right color. If they do, woohoo! If they don’t, you get that sick to your stomach feeling of guilt over wasted money. Or, you may be more of a slots entrepreneur, starting at the penny machines, being more cautious as to how much you spend in the beginning. You have a little success and move up the quarter slots and maybe even the dollar slots.
Everything is rolling right along just fine, you are hitting a few jackpots, you put that money back into the machine in order to double it. You start to feel confident, maybe too confident. You want to move on to the five dollar slots. There is a nagging voice on your right shoulder whispering, “don’t do it.” But what do they know? You go for it. But what you forgot is that casinos are not designed to lose.
The machine starts taking all of its money back. Do you stop while you are ahead? No. You feel you have succeeded once, you can succeed again. Your overconfidence or maybe stubbornness to lose then takes control. So you keep putting money in trying to salvage what little remains. Before long it is all gone.
As a business owner, you have to be able to listen to that voice between the one dollar and five dollar slots telling you it is not a good idea. You can’t get lost in the feel good moments of winning for too long. Enjoy the small winnings and continue to prepare for any losses that may come your way. Several mental health disorders can lead to this type of behavior among entrepreneurs.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in entrepreneurs is a mental disorder that allows you to say yes to a lot of things “normal” people would reject.
This creates a ton of ideas, starting businesses that lead to starting new businesses. It allows people to relax that fear of risks. Entrepreneurs are known for taking risks. This type of behavior releases endorphins and dopamine in the brain, giving the person a positive feeling rush. This rush is satisfying for the business owner. This can lead to addiction tendencies because the entrepreneur begins to chase that “high” they received initially.
Some entrepreneurs are said to have an addiction. If you are a serial entrepreneur then you know this can be true. You have so many ideas and you want to try them all. But beware of the fine line you are walking between being optimistic and overoptimistic, the latter of which can be damaging for you and any investors you may have. Not all ideas make good businesses. The loss of several businesses can lead to even further mental health disabilities. You want to be a smart entrepreneur, a survivor in the world of business startups.
There have been many entrepreneurs who have battled mental health issues and lost, some due to suicide. One of the most memorable cases recently involved the death of Austin Heinz. His death was shocking to the community of business owners because it showed them that what appears to be true on the outside, is not always the same on the inside. He appeared to have it all, a great business, friends, money and more. The one thing outsiders could not see, however, is the emotional turmoil he must have been experiencing. Mental illnesses often remain silent until a crisis hits.
This does not have to the end result, however, and there are many more entrepreneurs who have overcome mental health obstacles. They have gone on to be very successful and even speak out to help other entrepreneurs. There are many celebrities who are also entrepreneurs dealing with mental health issues. It is their courage to speak about their mental health disorders that gives others the strength to confront their own problems. We live in a society that looks to celebrities as role models.
You can be an entrepreneurial survivor. Making yourself aware of your issues is the first start. Getting help for your issues will enable you to continue on your path of success as an entrepreneur. Working with your mental health issues versus working against them can turn your small business startup into a great venture. As a leader of a company, getting help with any mental health issues also sets a great example for your employees. This allows your company to be operated by mentally aware and mentally fit staff versus a group of staff who are all mentally ill. Do you want your employees to remain silent about having depression or anxiety and therefore running your programs in an unhealthy mental mindset? No. You want your employees to be able to get help they need so they can outperform other company staff, making your business far exceed your competition. You need to be the role model that allows your staff to get the help you all need.
The same time and effort you put into running a great company needs to be put into running a great you. Without you, your company will fail. Make sure you are well enough, both physically and mentally, to continue your business legacy. You can be that great entrepreneur who succeeds.