A 2021 study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that over 60% of Americans agree that work and money are significant causes of stress in their lives. As a small business owner, where work and money can sneakily become associated with your self-worth, mental health statistics become quite worse.
According to an article in Entrepreneur, over 72% of business owners reported mental health concerns, and according to a study by Michael Freeman, entrepreneurs are 49% more likely to report having a mental health condition.
Michael Freeman’s study also found that entrepreneurs are:
It’s no secret that being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s demanding, it can be lonely and at times it can be very frustrating. However, what many people don’t realize is that maintaining your mental health is just as important as keeping yourself motivated and inspired.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and it’s important to take care of both.
When you’re feeling good mentally, your productivity is increased. You’ll be able to think more clearly and make better decisions which will lead to success in your business.
Stressed people are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol in order to cope, but when they’re feeling good mentally, they’re less likely to need these substances in order to feel happy or calm. This can help reduce their risk of addiction and other problems associated with substance abuse.
Maintaining your mental health can also help you be a more effective leader. When you’re feeling good, you’re able to give better instructions and make better decisions. You’ll be less likely to get frustrated or angry with your team, and they’ll be more likely to follow your instructions.
For Mental Health Awareness Month, I asked a few small business owners what aspect of building and growing their business provokes the most stress and anxiety.
Here’s what they had to say:
“I feel like the fear of failing (my clients) brings me the most anxiety—or overextending myself by growing and being unable to support the people I bring into my business is the most stressful part of growing my business.” – Susan E.
“Cash flow brings me the most stress and anxiety. With 13 people who regularly rely on me to pay them feels like a huge responsibility! I’ve been in the spot before where I had to make tough choices and vowed to never be there again.” –Andrea J.
“Finding the next client always causes my anxiety and my stress levels to spike. It’s the uncertainty and pressure that I feel to always find the next one and then the worry about what will happen if I don’t find one. And then my thoughts spiral into all sorts of catastrophizing! It’s not fun and it’s not constructive” – Melissa R.
Aside from hearing about these anxiety-provoking tasks, I also wanted to know what ‘hacks’ or resources they’ve found or invested in to make these tasks easier to manage.
Here are a few resources and strategies they had to share:
“Bringing on new clients slowly is one thing that is helping me.
Also taking things one thing at a time.”
“I have a few hacks for reducing the anxiety of seeing large sums of money going in and out of my account. First, I always look at the numbers. I used to push off that task for later but I found the longer I wait, the more stressed I get. So I’m reviewing my cash flow numbers several times a week to stay updated.
Then I stopped tying my personal worth to my business revenue. While I find joy in making money, my business is not my entire personality.
Lastly, I recentered my thinking away from me supporting my family and toward the families of my team. It brings me great joy to be able to provide stable jobs and a fun place to work.”
“To make finding clients easier, I do a few things. For one, I make sure I serve the clients that I do have as best I can. Really trying to go above and beyond so that they’re likely to recommend me to their friends.
I also ask people to refer me to anyone they know and I’ve considered (but haven’t implemented yet) a cash-back-based referral system.
Also, the biggest game-changer for me in relation to my anxiety was learning to accept it and not trying to ignore it.
I say to myself that I see my anxiety and that I accept it and that helps a lot. I also practice yoga and meditation and majorly journaled in the past. These were also VERY helpful!”
What’s the worst feeling in the world as a business owner? Watching a business with years of love, hard work, and tears poured into, crumble to the ground because your mental health had fallen to the waste side.
My first business SPIES was my pride and joy. Having to shut it down, surrender the domain name and say goodbye to all the dedicated followers was a tough, but necessary decision.
Truth be told, you can’t run a successful business while struggling to make it through the day.
Let me say that again… Your business success is not worth the mental breakdowns.
Your mental health needs to be the number one priority in your life. Followed by your physical health and then….and only then can your business thrive. If you’re not on your A-game mentally and physically, your business will suffer.
I learned that lesson the hard way and I’m sharing this with you so you don’t have to.
My advice to anyone who’s struggling with their mental health while trying to run a business is to ensure systems and workflows are in place before it becomes necessary.
Don’t wait until there’s a flame to put out a fire.
Be prepared for the unknown and the unexpected.
While the above tips can help anyone in business, they can help those who struggle with bad mental health days (or months) even more.
Entrepreneurship is a relentlessly demanding and often exhilarating lifestyle.
It can be thrilling to wake up every day and create something new, but it’s also tough to stay on top of everything when your mind is constantly racing.
Here are some tips to help you stay on track:
It’s important to maintain your mental health in order to thrive as an entrepreneur. By following the tips in this post, you’ll be able to stay motivated and inspired all while maintaining your mental health.