Mental Wellness & That #EntrepreneurLife


When thinking about the life of entrepreneurs we often think of the publicity, social media highlights, and the excitement of starting new things. While this is part of the life of an entrepreneur, the entrepreneur life is also filled with many uncertainties, risks, and stressors. In fact, researchers find that burnout risks are heightened among business owners due to a variety of factors:

1.) Hustling

You’ve heard and seen it before on social media – #entrepreneurlife #hustlehard #thegrind #startuplife #hardworkpaysoff #makeithappen #productivity #livingthedream

Creating and running a business can be filled with thrill, success, and achievement. But sole focus on that #hustling lifestyle to the detriment of our health can lead to burnout and physical illness. The continual start-up mentality can lead to our bodies operating out of chronic stress and a “Fight, Flight, or Freeze” mode. Michael Freeman and his research team have found that entrepreneurs’ reports for depression, ADHD, addiction and other mental health concerns were higher than the general population. While more research needs to be done to examine the correlation between mental health, entrepreneurial burnout, and entrepreneurship, these recent findings are concerns in themselves and reveal the other side of the hustle.

2.) Heightened Stress Levels

Don’t get me wrong though. Launching a new business is exciting! However, any exciting event can also create stress. Transitions in life such as getting married, having a new baby, and launching a new start-up can all be exciting. Yet they bring forth change and added responsibilities.

Entrepreneurs wear many hats including managing and employing employees, marketing, keeping track of inventory, balancing finances, meeting orders, creating new products and services, event planning and programming, networking, and customer service. Though these roles can eventually be delegated as a business grows, in an initial start-up stage, it can be tempting to take on all responsibilities to lower costs.

3.) Nonexistent work-life balance

For many entrepreneurs, having greater amounts of time and flexibility also leads to the need to manage time beyond a traditional 9-5 work schedule. Having a flexible schedule and being one’s own boss is a huge reasons behind why we so many people want to start their own businesses. However, there is always more work to be done, more vision casting to occur, and more e-mails and phone calls to answer as an entrepreneur. Work can become life and the ease for a nonexistent work-life balance to crop up can lead to heightened burnout risks. Researchers have found that overwork is the most commonly experienced stress factor among entrepreneurs.

4.) Vulnerability and risks for failure

Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, states that ““Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” Brown, a social worker and researcher on shame, vulnerability, and courage at the University of Houston, has found in her years of research that we need to risk the unknown and be open to failure in order to show up in our innovation and creativity as entrepreneurs.

At Waco Cha, we seek to create new tea menu drinks each season so customers can try new flavors. We also recently pitched Waco Bao Company, our food start-up idea, and won 2nd place at the Extraco Big Ideation Challenge during Start-Up Week.  It can be risky to put yourself out there – especially when we are creating food & drinks inspired by our ethnic culture that many have never heard of or tasted before.

As entrepreneurs, we are always looking to create new products, services, and content for consumers. Creating new things out of nothing is unpredictable at times and small business survival rates reflect this. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy about 80% of start-ups survive the first year. However, after the five-year mark, only about half of all established small businesses survive.

Extraco Big Ideation Challenge 2nd Place Winners!

While that #entrepreneurlife can be exciting, flexible, and rewarding, it also has its challenges and risks.

Entering the world of entrepreneurship inspired me to not only “figure out” burnout prevention for myself but to also help fellow entrepreneurs be able to thrive in the work that they are doing. We need entrepreneurs to be healthy for our communities so that the talents and giftings we have to offer can continue to be given.

The WHO defines mental health as “a state of well- being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Health is not an absence of disease or illness but “a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.”

Entrepreneurial mental wellness impacts leadership and organizational development at many levels – and ultimately employees, families, and our communities. In order for Waco to become a healthy prospering community, we need to focus on the holistic care and mental wellness of all individuals, businesses, and organizations in our city. This includes encouraging, supporting, and celebrating our fellow entrepreneurs who are moving, shifting, and innovating day in and day out for our city. 

Who is a local entrepreneur that you can encourage today?