The life of a successful entrepreneur is often pictured as extravagant: designer items, luxury cars, and multi-million dollar mansions. However, behind the money and success hides the expensive psychological price tag on entrepreneurship.
A study conducted by Dr. Michael Freeman found that a staggering 72 percent of participating entrepreneurs have concerns regarding their mental health. Furthermore, Freeman concluded that there is an “underlying relationship between entrepreneurship and many of the affective, cognitive, and behavioral differences associated with mental health conditions.”
So, what causes the correlation between entrepreneurship and mental illness? Entrepreneur turned investor, Kumar Arora, laid out three reasons: isolation, passion, and failure.
Entrepreneur isolation stems from bottling up worries regarding their business. Although entrepreneurs have a team to support them, many will put on a mask and hide any concerns from their company to keep their co-workers energized. The façade, in turn, creates a lonely environment that feeds into mental illness. To combat isolation, Arora suggests finding a mentor to help carry the weight of all the worries.
While passion is indeed a key quality of entrepreneurship, being too passionate about one’s project is unhealthy. A study led by BGF Ventures and Streetbees found that around 20 percent of U.K. entrepreneurs work 60-79 hour weeks, and that 53 percent of entrepreneurs never stop working. This type of intense work-life will undoubtedly have serious detrimental effects on one’s mental health. Thus, Arora urges entrepreneurs to find the perfect balance between their personal and work life.
Failure is imprinted into the career path of entrepreneurship - even the most successful entrepreneurs have experienced countless setbacks. However, many novel entrepreneurs find it difficult to cope with their feelings of failure. Consequently, it allows for anxiety and depression to seep into their lives. Arora advises entrepreneurs to enjoy their accomplishments rather than to focus on their failures. Quoting Mark Cuban, “it doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.”
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