Entrepreneurship is a factor that cannot simply be turned off when a person is formulating an idea to start a business. Most commonly, entrepreneurs are known to be engaged, passionate, and committed throughout their waking hour throughout their lives. Especially when the business is growing, they usually don’t let go even if they can relax. In my opinion, two factors influence this phenomenon; The first is the persistent hunger for growth and the second is the fear of failure and loss of what was built. These are the two factors that make them successful.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that mental health is not just the absence of mental challenges, but mental well-being in which each individual reaches his or her own potential. An entrepreneur is described as a person who is passionate about an idea or concept. In other words, according to legendary and legendary entrepreneur Steve Jobs, they are “the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world”.
Entrepreneurs are most often described as doers with endless aspirations and inventive minds. If they’re interested in business, over time they always show fearlessness as they progress. Business psychologists agree that energetic people who are motivated to tirelessly pursue a goal are often successful in business, but sooner or later tend to have strong emotional conditions.
Entrepreneurs are often alone. You have friends, family, acquaintances and your team with you. However, the state of business remains on their shoulders, making them feel alone all the time. You need to build a front to hold and trust the team, investors, friends, and family. Carrying the brunt of all worries and fears can create a pretty lonely space for entrepreneurs in the long run. Hence, the continuation of this inevitable event can create a psychological imbalance for the entrepreneurs if not addressed in a timely manner.
The UK-based Business Growth Fund (BGF), one of the UK’s most active investment firms, found that 53% of entrepreneurs never switch off, while another 20% work over 80 hours a week. However, in Sri Lanka these percentages can be higher. This is certainly an appeal to the mental health of entrepreneurs. Hence, a balance must be struck between business and personal life to avoid repercussions later on.
Determining the level of risk of mental health problems due to entrepreneurial efforts is not an easy task. In most cases, entrepreneurs depend on the success of their respective companies. They pay little or no attention to signs of stress. The stress caused by this action can be factors such as despair over failure, negative problems in personal life, poor sleeping and eating habits, and altered emotions.
Most successful business people I have met have generally stated that when they work under pressure, they are at their peak. Many of them say that when they relax they are disregarding important issues, especially when making decisions. In my opinion, although there is some truth in this judgment, the long-term mental health impact can be detrimental.
It is difficult for other successful business people to imagine taking a negative psychological toll as they visibly display luxurious lifestyles and create illustrious impressions in society. However, the truth is that most entrepreneurs lead comfortable lives, but not extravagantly as a small percentage who are billionaires.
Still, the goal of almost all entrepreneurs is inspired by the most successful entrepreneurs. Similar to the richest, the main goal of any business owner is to achieve goals and maintain success. The reality, however, is that success naturally comes with a psychological price. Depression and anxiety are common, with most of them causing mental health problems, followed by negative physical problems.
Several successful business people I spoke to on this matter unanimously confirmed that they are under constant pressure during the day, week, month and year and have had new business problems since the inception of entrepreneurship. Almost everyone said that the tension increases as business grows.
A relatively young successful businessman and a mature entrepreneur shared the same feeling about constant stress and anxiety. Even when they are aware of the mental strain, they say that because of the nature of the responsibilities that lie on their shoulders, there is very little they can do to circumvent it.
Dealing with stress and anxiety is one of the central topics in business psychology that is discussed by psychologists around the world. The nature of business is that every day everything has to be right when in reality it is not. For example, business people think that sales need to increase, employees and customers need to be satisfied, products need to be improved, and much more. However, the truth is that almost every day the company takes two steps forward and one step back, or vice versa.
Therefore, entrepreneurs must be ready to face this bitter truth. If not, there is a high chance that they will be able to endure excessive mental pressure that will cause anxiety to build up. When an entrepreneur lets himself be confronted by these emotions, his business decisions are influenced. It has been proven that decisions made under the influence of stress can be harmful in the long term.
The inability to deal with rejections or failures is a tough problem for entrepreneurs. The two factors are closely related in every company and around the world. Not only is this a common phenomenon in business practice, but it is a necessity as the entrepreneur is regularly faced with various business concerns. Failure is also a habitual factor in entrepreneurship.
The entrepreneur’s intentions or innovative ideas do not always turn out as expected. Most of the world’s successful business leaders declare that they have seen more failures than successes. However, perseverance will ultimately lead to success. The important point is that while rejections and failures are harmful, controlling emotions can keep negative mental stress in check.
Another notable mannerism of almost all entrepreneurs is to pretend everything is perfect, even on the verge of failure. By creating this facade, business owners try to maintain the trust of the company’s stakeholders for as long as possible. No businessman wants to appear weak in front of his team, clients or colleagues. This type of behavior can later lead to stress and resulting depression.
The renowned American psychologist and founder of the “humanistic approach” (client-centered approach) warns that people will be disturbed if expectations are not met. This is especially true for people with an entrepreneurial mentality who often exhibit strong behavioral patterns. Hardworking business people can get depressed easily if they don’t achieve what is expected.
For these reasons, experts say business owners need to learn to be open to the possible or negative eventualities. In such conditions, it is recommended that entrepreneurs take time off business activities in order to rest and revitalize physically and mentally. In reality, however, the irony is that most entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka go on vacation but never shut down from doing business.
The mental well-being of entrepreneurs is related to the well-being of many and is also directly related to the country’s economy. Entrepreneurs, especially small and medium-sized businesses, need to recognize that emotional difficulties are not a sign of weakness. It’s another common fact in their lifestyle. The emotional balance of any entrepreneur is of the utmost importance as they work together to make a living for millions of others. Therefore, a proactive approach to preventing ubiquitous mental disorders is essential.