Entrepreneurial Success Starts with Mental Health Care


by Azets

Research shows that four in five small business owners experience poor mental health symptoms, including focus problems, anxiety, and disrupted sleep. Panic attacks affect nearly a quarter of SME founders, while 37% battle depression. Burnout is prevalent among entrepreneurs, with over a third experiencing it. 
In this episode we'll be talking about the triggers that may cause entrepreneurs to experience spells of poor mental health, some of the things to look out for, and the type of strategies they can use to improve their mindset and protect their business. 
Why does poor mental health happen to entrepreneurs? 
Entrepreneurs may risk stress and burnout due to their tendency to overlook subtle body signals from pushing too hard. They often possess the ability to override these signals because they see that pushing on and putting their health last leads to advancement for their business. This comes at the cost of their own mental health, and hustle culture often promotes this as a necessary sacrifice. The result is that entrepreneurs are often some of the first who should seek help for their mental health, while also being some of the last to do so. 
“I think a huge part of burnout for a lot of us, is just feeling like we need to say yes because you're not sure where money is coming from.” 
- Rachel Harris, Director of striveX and founder of ACCOUNTANT_SHE 
The stigma of seeking help 
Sometimes, small business founders are reluctant to share with their wider team when they are struggling. Being an entrepreneur can be quite a lonely place, particularly if there's no co-founder to share what they're going through. Leaders setting examples can make a huge difference, and nurturing a work environment that allows for these kinds of conversations will greatly benefit both employer and employee. 
I strongly believe that connecting with fellow business owners and leaders, even if we're diverse, holds immense value. While we're distinct in various ways, running a business yields shared experiences. Being candid about these experiences doesn't just benefit us, but also aids others. Peer-to-peer organizations and networking groups are readily available.” 
- Warren Munson, Azets managing partner, and business founder 
Balancing mental health for business success 
Businesses can fail when their owners overlook their mental health and find themselves out of balance. It's crucial to be in the right state of mind and rhythm. While setting ambitious goals is important, they may remain unattainable if you, as a business owner and leader, aren't in the optimal state to perform. 
“The way you present yourself as a leader within your office, environment, and business significantly influences the performance of the business, staff motivation, attention, and other related factors. Ultimately, if you neglect this aspect for an extended period, you begin to make suboptimal decisions. This happens because the rationality of decision-making diminishes, and you lose that valuable perspective.” 
- Warren Munson, Azets managing partner, and business founder 
Early indicators of poor mental health 

  • Sleeplessness stands out as a major indicator. Many business owners battle nighttime worries about the future.  
  • Waning motivation, a contrast to typical leader drive.  
  • Desensitization to emotions is alarming, hinting at issues. People might just go through the motions, detached from true feelings.  
  • Difficulty being present is a red flag. For optimal mental health, immersing in the moment is key, whether with family, personal well-being activities, or work.  
  • Struggles to engage authentically, constant phone checks, and perpetual worries signal concerns. 
  • Dismissing bodily signals, like pain and headaches.  

“Sustainable success involves anticipating challenges, managing them well, and allowing recovery, not constant peak performance.” 

  • Leanne Spencer, Author and expert in corporate wellbeing.  

Essential elements of mental wellness 

  • Conversation. Having someone to talk to, whether it be a therapist or a trusted friend or family member, is vital to your mental health. Hearing the perspectives of others, or just having a chance to vent your frustrations, can leave you with a much clearer mind. 
  • Books and podcasts. A lot of people go through the same struggles, and their stories can help you find solutions for your own problems. 
  • Personal time. Taking time to enjoy your hobbies, being with people you care about, and allowing yourself time to breathe is a great way to feel more in control of your day. Integrate breaks into your schedule, and allow yourself to just exist without worries, even for a minute. 
  • Basic needs. Covering your basic needs is a great place to start. Eating nutritious food, getting fresh air, drinking enough water, and getting your eight hours of sleep will set a standard you can build upon. Many people don’t consider that they don’t get their most basic needs, and you simply can’t perform optimally without them. 
  • Patience. No one can change their lives in a day. Part of embracing self-care is to be kind and patient with yourself. Perfection is impossible, and failing is part of the journey. Treat yourself with the same care and kindness as you would a dear friend, and with time you will see progress. 

“We're all used to talking about our physical health. Hopefully we're on that journey where we talk about our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. It should be an everyday conversation.” 

  • Warren Munson, Azets managing partner, and business founder 

Entrepreneurship can be isolating, but silence isn't necessary. Small business owners should lead by example, openly discussing their mental health and steps taken to improve it, inspiring their teams to do the same. 

 Listen to your body and establish a cadence. We can't maintain peak performance all the time. Inject moments of recovery, even just two minutes every hour, and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs who understand your journey. Prioritizing your mental health is not selfish; it's essential. 

About Azets