Stress and Startups: Staying Mindful as a Small Business Owner
When you’re a small business owner, there’s a fine line to balance between working hard and working too hard. Despite startup owners typically being smart, driven, passionate and hard working people, they are just as vulnerable as anyone to stress, anxiety and self doubt. Unfortunately in many cases, stress and startups go hand in hand.
There are a ton of reasons why startup owners face a lot of stress, and none of them should be taken lightly. As much as we’d like to pretend there is a way to avoid stress in startups, that is simply no more than a fairy tale.
However, there are ways to think, behave, and approach situations that can manage your stress in the most positive ways for your business. In today’s blog, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know to navigate and manage the stress of being a startup founder.
The Reason Stress Happens
The only way to begin managing stress is to start by identifying why it manifests in the first place.
Your Business is Your Baby
For many startup founders, their business means everything to them. They’ve put in years of both time and money into bringing their idea to life in the form of a successful business. It’s not unreasonable that startups owners see their business as a living breathing thing that requires 24/7 attention and care.
In many ways a business can be a living brand. However, unlike a living life form, you are capable of stepping back from it. You can reassess where you stand, and make any changes you need to move towards your goals.
Practice time management and prioritization.
Doing this over a long period of time plays a key role in managing stress while not neglecting your business goals.
Pressure Makes Diamonds, or Earthquakes
Founding a startup can be summarized into three words: Taking A Risk.
Not only do you have to take a risk, you have to take one that affects your lifestyle, family, career, life savings – pretty much everything that encompasses YOU. With all this on the line, it goes without saying that pressure greatly contributes to the amount of stress you feel.
Since startup founders make the conscious decision to take this risk it really comes down to them putting the pressure on themselves. We all experience fear of failure, but not the way that startup founders do with everything on the line.
Surrounding yourself with a strong support group and reminding yourself of the potential reward of each risk are a couple of ways to cope within this pressure.
Unfortunately imposter syndrome is something found in too many startup founders at some point in their careers. Imposter syndrome is when anxiety takes the better part of your judgement and makes people feel inadequate and undeserving of their businesses success.
Imposter syndrome can be so detrimental to people’s mental health that despite evidence of success, people can still feel like they have deceived themselves and everyone around them.
Now that we have identified three serious reasons why stress can effect startup founders, let’s take a look at some strategies that can help us avoiding unnecessary stress in the future.
Ways to Prevent Stress
Build a Support System
If you’re going to survive stress as a startup founder you have to remember this one fact: you are not alone. Look to your friends, family members, fellow founders, or anyone else important in your life that you can lean on for support.
When you have a someone to talk to who listens to your problems carefully, it helps to take off some of the tremendous amount of pressure you put on yourself. One of the pitfalls of entrepreneurship is that you often feel like you’re in the challenge by yourself. With a strong support group, you’re never truly alone.
Don’t Forget Physical Health
This isn’t news after a year and a half of a pandemic, but there’s a reason why we don’t stop mentioning it. Eating properly, exercising, and doing things for your mental health like meditation are all super important in coping with and reducing stress.
Having increased levels of stress makes us susceptible to falling into bad habits because they feel good in the moment. Founders of startups have to be vigilant about eating poorly or using substances when coping with stress. Regular exercise is a way for your body to produce natural endorphins making you feel both mentally and physically great.
Talk With Like-Minded Founders
If you’re a startup founder then you know that it feels like the world is on your shoulders, and yours alone. You must remember that there are so many other founders out there who are also standing/have stood in the face of adversity. They already know all about the world of stress and startups. Some of these founders may be willing to give you a moment of your time.
You’d be surprised how many experienced individuals are out there willing to help because they remember what it was like to be in your shoes.
Founder support differentiates itself from a support system because you might not necessarily get a chance to speak with them face to face. They likely won’t be a person you can call at any hour of the day to get their advice. However, these people have written books or published articles that you can access for advice or perspective from a fellow founder.
Make a Routine, Take a Break, and Sleep Better
Having a routine can make you feel better, especially when that routine is full of things that benefit your mental and physical health.
It’s hard to remember to do everything in life, so we use calendars to remember. The same thing can be done for personal time. Schedule appointments with yourself in order to take the breaks you need for your mental health.
Taking a break might be the easiest piece of business advice you get, because all you have to do is do nothing. When you’re spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere, taking as few as 10 minutes can help you find the clarity you need. Small breaks also go a long way in helping you avoid the burnout that comes as a small business owner (which is the reason 10% of startups fail).
Also, the better you sleep, the better you are when you’re awake. Stress comes from both mental and physical exhaustion, and sleeping is a remedy for both of these. We’re all sleep deprived these days, founders especially, so the more sleep you can get, the better. It can take a while to form a steady sleep schedule, so try to lose motivation when you’re trying to make these lifestyle changes.
As we’ve seen, stress and startups overlap way too often. Being a startup founder is a job that truly requires more than most. It also requires that you spend the extra time taking care of yourself more than you would with most jobs.
At Bookmark, one of our key messages to business owners is to spend less time growing their business, not their website. We are here to help them succeed in all aspects of life, and reducing their stress is one of the main reasons we do what we do.
Please reach out to us with any questions you may have, and stay tuned for our upcoming blogs on bettering yourself and your business.
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