What causes stress in entrepreneurs?

Working as an entrepreneur is one of the most stressful yet rewarding career paths. For all your hard work, you can see your business grow, receive feedback from happy clients, and make a dream become reality.

Unfortunately, many discover the stressful side of entrepreneurship the hard way. Maiko Schaffrath noted in Forbes, “popular culture often depicts them as almost perfect visionaries, with very little space for vulnerability.”

And without a team structure, once stress sets in, there’s no-one to lean on. Long-term stress and burnout can put an entrepreneur’s entire business at risk, so it’s important to understand where stress comes from, and how you can prevent it from negatively affecting you.

8 common causes of entrepreneurial stress

Stress can come from any difficult situation in an entrepreneur’s life. However, many will experience one - or many - of these causes of entrepreneurial stress:

1. Uncertainty

Uncertainty is one of the most common problems for entrepreneurs. Your work will change drastically depending on how popular your business is, and can often be affected by unpredictable external factors too.

It’s natural to find uncertainty stressful. As humans, we like routine, and the ability to envision our future - be it the next week, month, or year.

You may find solace in knowing that while there are easier, more consistent career paths, no-one can predict the future. And for you, there may be success and excitement just around the corner!

2. Social isolation and loneliness

In the early stages of running a business, entrepreneurs can find themselves socially isolated. This is particularly true if you work overtime - missing social events in order to keep your business in check. And if you have transitioned from a job in a team to working by yourself, it can be particularly hard to handle.

Social connection is an incredibly important part of achieving good mental health, and can also benefit your business. All entrepreneurs need an entrepreneurial ecosystem - this is a network of start-ups and support organisations that facilitate collaborations and connections.

As an organisation supporting mental health in entrepreneurs and teams, our Entrepreneurs Community has also been designed to provide that valuable sense of belonging and support too.

3. Financial concerns

If running your own business is your sole focus, it’s natural to become financially dependent on it. The financial health of your business can become overwhelming, dictating where you live, how you live, and how your family lives too.

Many entrepreneurs experience stress around their finances, and this can be exacerbated by poor sales or investments. In fact, cashflow problems is one of the most common reasons why start-ups fail.

4. Too much work

Many entrepreneurs find themselves working far more than they would ask an employee to do for them. We are often our hardest boss, and harshest critic, so it’s important to get your workload right, as well as time management, and work-life balance.

If this is a real issue for you, our Digital Wellbeing Training may be worth working through. You’ll learn how to be more emotionally resilient, and structure your work to suit your life.

5. Highly competitive industry

Competition can be a big cause of stress in the field of entrepreneurship. If you have a new, innovative product, stress can come from worrying about patents, or protection from competitors springing up. If you’ve entered a saturated market, competition is also a worry - because you’ll need to do better than many other businesses in your sector.

It’s important to recognise that you can’t be in control of what your competitors do, but you can at least monitor their progress. We recommend reviewing your competitors on a regular basis, at a focused time so that you can keep tabs and reduce worries.

6. Self-worth linked to business success

One of the most common issues we see at Calmer is the unnecessary pressure many entrepreneurs put on themselves and their self-worth. They may find their own identity wrapped up in their business, linking how to value themselves with their finances.

This is not a healthy practice. If you’re feeling this way, you may benefit from a 1:1 session with a Calmer Practitioner to help you work through this issue, and recognise just how valuable you are - regardless of how well your business is doing.

7. No room for vulnerability

As we mentioned in the beginning, entrepreneur culture focuses far too much on success. This is something Tania Diggory, Calmer’s Founder, has been campaigning against for a number of years - her piece in The Guardian shows how vulnerability has transformed her business, and set her on the path to success.

Making time to address any vulnerabilities you have identified is the first step to strengthening your business and yourself. Even better if you communicate it with others - these could be trusted friends or family members, a mentor, or the Calmer Entrepreneurs Community.

8. Lack of mental health support

Finally - something we can address straight away! Mental health support is limited for many entrepreneurs, despite their increased need for them.

Mental health resources are becoming more common place in UK workplaces, but many entrepreneurs are excluded from them. There’s also limited awareness around the value of mental health in entrepreneurs, which is something we’re working to highlight.

If you’re reading this, you’re already in the right place. Take a look at what we offer so you can start investing in your own mental health, and creating a happy mind and business.

You’re not alone

It’s important to remember that stress affects over 70% of entrepreneurs. Couple that statistic with 60% of UK entrepreneurs experiencing burnout, and you can begin to see why it’s important to invest in your own mental wellbeing alongside your business.

At Calmer, we supports entrepreneurs and purposeful teams to nurture good mental health and wellbeing. We do this through digital courses, workplace training, events, workshops and 1:1 sessions. You can start prioritising your mental health with us - come along to one of our events, or check out our tailored options to suit you.