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MENTAL HEALTH OF ENTREPRENEURS


Image source: challengethestorm.org


The start-up culture in India is growing rapidly more than ever. Startup India is an initiative of the Government of India which aims at creating an environment full of opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. According to Startup India, the country has created startup policies in 26 states. With the advancement of technology, the Internet revolution, and some government schemes, things seem possible for many aspiring entrepreneurs. However, the scenario has witnessed many disruptions due to the pandemic. ‘WFH’ has become the norm, employees are facing burnout, losing jobs, etc. As a result, discussions have happened and some companies are trying to implement solutions. In 2020, Bumble was one of the few companies to update their workplace policies in the following manner:

  • A 10-day paid leave for its employees who are experiencing burnout.

  • 6-month paid leave for surrogacy/adoption/birth along with a minimum of 4 weeks of flexible working hours when transitioning to a normal workday.

  • A minimum of 12 weeks leave if you are a caregiver of your family.

  • 20 day leave for victims of domestic violence or any other violent crime


Picture: Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble

(Image Source: TechCrunch)

While it’s good to see how companies are trying to take care of their employee’s well-being, there is hardly any conversation around the mental health of entrepreneurs.


But why is there a need to look at their mental health differently?

The reasons are many.

Most of the people in the world tend to live a risk-free and comfortable life. While that is absolutely okay, there are a few people who attempt to break the glass ceiling by being more innovative and reach different milestones. Entrepreneurs practice high tolerance and spend more time to witness success. The journey isn’t easy as it involves frequent self-doubts, fear of failure, and regretting not taking advice from people. Moreover, if the progress is slow, one starts worrying about the financial aspect of the work. Some entrepreneurs have had to take family responsibilities and work on their start-ups despite a low bank balance. Moreover, when you see other entrepreneurs reaching milestones, it doesn’t evoke a pleasant feeling.

“One must sacrifice everything” “I have to work no matter what.”

Such is the narrative built and they lose the work-life balance- all these things are immensely glorified. Phil Drolet in his Tedx Talk ‘Why Most Entrepreneurs Are Slowly Killing Themselves’ is also an entrepreneur who fell for this. He tried to implement the routine of Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg who used to work 16 hours a day. Can you imagine?

Even if you have achieved considerable success doesn’t mean the work is done. Entrepreneurship requires one to be flexible and adapt to changes by unlearning and relearning notions, work culture, tasks, functioning of the organization i.e. everything. While they can take time to get used to it, there is no denying that this dynamism that sounded exciting initially tends to become excruciatingly frustrating sometimes. Even if they face such issues or bounce back from extremely tough times, the fear of failing again stays with them.


So what can be done to maintain one’s mental health?

It’s important to realize that eliminating leisure activities and not spending time with your loved ones, can backfire. The journey of entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster ride, and being lonely in this journey can increase stress levels and give rise to mental illnesses. The idea of ‘giving it all’ has a flip side as well because one tends to associate their self-worth with how one performs as an entrepreneur. In serious cases, one must seek professional help. In May 2020, Piyush Kumar, the co-founder of a sports tech startup Rooter, recommended going to therapy. Due to the pandemic, his business plans didn’t go according to his plan because sports had come to a halt. To compensate, he decided to work 18 hours a day and though he would indulge in sports as a leisure activity, things became unmanageable over some time. This is when he began his journey of going to therapy.

Piyush Kumar (Source: Adgully)

The interesting thing that should be highlighted is that how some entrepreneurs start something to make a long-term social impact.

Calmer, an organization based in the UK, aims to maintain the mental health of entrepreneurs by offering varied workshops, training, and support network.

Cofounder Clarity, the brainchild of Dr. Mathew Jones has created a niche for himself. He aims to guide the co-founders of businesses towards growth and clarity by taking their therapy sessions.

What these two companies attempted was to become an entrepreneur to do something for the entrepreneurs. Now that’s commendable, isn’t it?

The concept of building a side hustle and turning it into a full-time career is gaining momentum. Since 2020, more and more people are becoming entrepreneurs or solopreneurs. The tool of social media is helping them immensely to build their portfolios, approach clients, and make a lucrative career. This indicates how important it is to emphasize the mental health of entrepreneurs- the ones who create magic with their ideas and make life-changing innovations! If you are an entrepreneur or know someone who is, keep in touch with them, encourage them to take care of their health, and maintain a healthy balance. If they still don’t listen, you can always send them our article! *winks*

 

Author: Madhura Bilimogga For Limelighting Life Collective

 

References:

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Jones, M. (2021, June 18). The Surprising Toll of Entrepreneurship on Founders' Mental Health. Cofounder Clarity. https://cofounderclarity.com/founder-therapy-blog/the-surprising-toll-of-entrepreneurship-on-founders-mental-health.


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