Imagine an entrepreneur whose cover story tells us that they went from rags to riches overnight, scaling their business and bank account. Headlines like these make it sound all too easy, don’t they?
The truth is not every story is a unicorn smooth sailing growth ride. For every rainbow and sunshine in a business, there is an equal amount of bad days and stormy nights. Entrepreneurship comes with instability, rates of failure, and a lot of other uncertainties.
The mental health of entrepreneurs is directly or indirectly 72% more affected compared to 48% non-entrepreneurs. There are 582 million entrepreneurs worldwide and the mentally affected are 8% of this population. We are here to talk about the mental and emotional struggles of entrepreneurs alike and chip in our two cents. This is to help remove the taboos and come up with solutions as well:
1. Starting A Business Is Scary
The thought of putting your work out there is a nerve-racking one. With all the prevailing judgment, the time and energy to build the brand from scratch, it is definitely very scary.
It takes a lot of work to put up a store. From designing the brand to finalizing the shipping, to making your eCommerce store look and work its absolute finest, everything is a continuous challenge. When everything is ready, questions like “what if no one notices me?” Or “what would they think of the brand?” And “what if this flops?” start flooding in .
To deal with this, we often recommend entrepreneurs to just start. Because if you don’t start you will never know how far you could have gone. The momentum needed for your entrepreneurial journey demands you to start from some point. One of the principles of design thinking says “Fail often and fail better” this means to get your products in front of your customers as soon as possible. This not only lets you improve as soon as possible but also gives you the chance to learn from your mistakes. Don’t marry yourself to your original product, keep innovating and changing.
2. It Can Be Lonely
Entrepreneurship can be lonely and there are several reasons for this.
The first being that a lot of the people around us are happy with conventional office jobs and either don’t aspire to do much or don’t have the guts. Secondly, not a lot of them share your passion. One example could be Madlug; Dave Linton the founder shares his story of having dark and sad days, where it was impossible to keep going. His friends and family also didn’t think the idea of selling bags would take off. He also didn’t have any mentor or business partner to turn to.
To combat this, we suggest building a community that supports people around you. These are not your friends and family, these people are your business network. You gotta go out and find entrepreneurs who think like you or have a support group full of them. If you can afford it, hiring a good business coach can also be very helpful.
3. Entrepreneurship Is Non-linear
Just like we said at the start, entrepreneurship is not all rainbows and colors. It comes with its ups and downs. From unexpected cancellations to products stuck on the port, to finances, staffing and quality, anything could go wrong in the early startup days. It’s sort of like your mixer breaking the day before Christmas and you have a grand family dinner to host, that kind of situation. All of these things when you are understaffed at the start can take a toll on your mental health because as the owner you end up doing a lot of it yourself. There is a one-word answer to all of these “resilience”
But how do you build resilience? First off, expect that in the early days, problems will arise. The important thing is to keep calm and do your thing. Better planning for things that could potentially go wrong in your line of business and having a backup plan can and will save you from more damage than expected. Also, keep remembering why you started every few weeks or even every day if need be, this will help you endure and be resilient in the longer run.
4. Watch Out For Burnout
Entrepreneurs wear many hats from designers, packaging, customer support, digital marketing, etc. Working almost 24 hours a day to fulfill all of the above and more comes with a poor work-life balance. Having financial pressures to get things done is cherry on top for such a situation and makes entrepreneurs forget themselves.
The key ingredient is to remember that the business is because of “YOU”. If you don’t take care of yourself, don’t eat right, don’t sleep right, something will go so wrong that might have been avoided if you had gotten the sleep. Breathe every once in a while, do some form of physical activity to keep those dopamine levels up and what’s meant to find you will come your way. Just keep swimming (Nemo alert!)
5. Rejection Is Certain
We are all familiar with the stories of famous people telling us how they were rejected so many times before they found their big break. Well, that’s true for every business. Rejection is never an option in starting a business and life generally. The rejection we try to avoid will happen someday and it is unavoidable but the best part is that you can prepare for it. Learn from the mistakes of industry savants. We also recommend keeping a “what could go wrong and how would I tackle it” toolkit. This can be in the form of a book to help you go to the solution in the time of need.
No one says entrepreneurship is easy but seeing your dreams come to reality is a battle worth fighting. Cherish the journey and celebrate all the small victories along the way. We wish you the best of luck with your next venture.