Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You’re reading Entrepreneur United States, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Entrepreneurship tends to be thought of as a glitzy way of life. A lot of that can be attributed to what’s posted and seen on social media from the most successful entrepreneurs who show off their “freedom” and upscale lifestyle.
What people fail to understand is that this kind of life makes up a very small minority of entrepreneurs, and almost all of them didn’t get to that point of success without years of struggle and financial hardship while building their companies.
In addition, what’s shown on social media also isn’t always a depiction of a person’s real lifestyle.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t about waking up on a remote island and sending out a few emails before hopping on a private jet to Italy. The business is a daily grind, even for those who have successfully built their company into a money-making revenue machine.
It’s not easy deciding to start and build a business, reflected in a study where 72% of entrepreneurs self-reported mental health concerns. The study also noted that entrepreneurs were significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression, ADHD, substance use and bipolar diagnosis.
A newly formed small business can’t grow or make money in the early stages if its leader doesn’t have the ”hustle” mentality to grind day in and day out.
Here are a few ways that entrepreneurs can protect their mental health throughout the stressful, but rewarding journey of creating and building their own business.
1. Take care of your finances
Like in any area of life, financial issues are the number one reported cause for stress and anxiety among entrepreneurs. Some people put their entire life savings into the startup with nothing to fall back on.
According to smallbizgenius.net, 39% of small business owners use cash to fund their companies. While that’s a method that has worked for a few, it’s not recommended and could leave someone in a tough spot if the company doesn’t work out.
The start-up journey is stressful enough to begin with, and putting everything into a basket that fails 90% of the time is not smart. It’s important to make sure there’s a financial cushion to live on for at least three to six months.
If that’s not possible, consider working a part-time job that allows for flexible hours. Another idea is having a side hustle that brings income like having a rental company or curating an investment portfolio.
The biggest takeaway is to try and leave as much money on the table to take care of the personal side of things and find a way to still bring in an additional income stream at the same time.
Related: Entrepreneurship Is All About Overcoming Obstacles
2. Don’t be afraid to delegate
Another quick way to overheat and face an even higher level of stress is trying to do everything by yourself. Even if the startup isn’t in a place to take on full-time employees quite yet, there are endless resources available to help a business outsource certain tasks.
This is important because burnout can happen very quickly when a business is forming, and that process tends to speed itself up if the founder is trying to do everything on their own.
Another option to avoid wearing down is going into business with a partner. Typically, each person would be an expert in a certain area of the company which would not only take things off one’s plate, but also be beneficial in driving the business forward.
Related: Here We Explore the Core of Entrepreneurship
3. Surround yourself with the right people
When beginning the entrepreneur journey, it’s important for a person’s mental well-being that they are surrounded by positive influences.
There will be some friends and family members that question the decision to leave corporate life with a steady paycheck behind. Remember, they come from a position of care and love, but they aren’t entrepreneurs.
Surround yourself with mentors who have been successful as entrepreneurs. Ask them for advice and guidance through the beginning of the start-up journey and continue to develop that relationship and expand a professional network as the business grows.
Mental health can easily deteriorate with the wrong people giving the wrong advice or pushing one’s self to the point of burnout. Following the above tips and frequently checking in with one’s emotions will help to ensure that self-care stays a top priority.
Related: Are You Cut For Entrepreneurship?