Startup Founders Report Entrepreneurship Is Taking A Toll On Their Mental Health

Starting a business, whether it’s a social enterprise or a regular business, is a high-stress endeavor and not for everyone. But does it harm the founders’ mental health? The answer, according to a new report, is yes. In fact, many startup founders say that the process of building a company has been detrimental to their well-being.

But the problem is especially prevalent in the current stressful environment of funding cuts and a recession in the startup world.

Still, most founders say they would do it again.

This is according to The Untold Toll: The Impact of Stress on the Well-Being of Startup Founders and CEOs, a recently published report. Researchers surveyed more than 400 founders of early-stage startups to assess how entrepreneurship has affected their mental health. The report was created by Startup Snapshot in partnership with Intel Ignite, Econa, Arnon-Tadmor Levy and The Zell Entrepreneurshi Program.

“The entrepreneurial journey is very stressful, with a lot of uncertainty,” says Yael Benjamin, founder and CEO of Startup Snapshot, which researches the startup ecosystem. “But in the current market, uncertainty is very high. We’re seeing a huge effect on founders’ mental health.”

Reluctance to seek help

Seventy-two percent of founders report that entrepreneurship has affected their mental health, according to the report, and 37% suffer from anxiety. At the same time, most employers seem to grin and bear it, and few do anything to fix the problem. Only 23% have asked for help or consulted a psychologist to discuss their problems. Eight percent report that they do not openly share their stress, fears and challenges. (Some founders turn to their partner or partner, with 47% frequently sharing their stress and challenges with their partner and 41% occasionally).

This reluctance to seek help is likely due in part to the perception, especially among men, that there is still a stigma around taking such steps. According to the findings, 55% of men believe there is a stigma compared to just 29% of women. This feeling is also much higher among younger founders, with 59% of under-35s reporting a stigma, compared to 47% of over-35 founders.

Founders are also afraid that sharing their vulnerability could damage their reputation or their chances of success.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with VCs and startups about what’s going on. We understand that this is a big issue, but it’s not being talked about openly.” says Benjamin. “The goal of the research is to start a conversation that normalizes and indeed encourages admission of the many entrepreneurial challenges and stressors.”

Ultimate Investor Rating

As you might expect, when it comes to who they turn to for support, investors rank last. Concerned that transparency may affect their chances of securing additional funding, 90% of founders report not discussing their stress with their investors.

While this reluctance is understandable, however, it also cuts founders off from a potentially useful source of advice, according to Benjamin: “Investors have been through this before,” he says. “They could be a great support network.”

Despite the cost to their mental health, most employers seem to consider the sacrifice worth the effort. 93% of them say they would do it again.

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Startup founders are certainly no strangers to stress and exhaustion. According to an article published in The Harvard Business Review, 90 percent of startup founders report that entrepreneurship is taking a toll on their mental health. This decline in mental wellbeing increases exponentially with the number of years spent as an entrepreneur.

As the business world continues to become more competitive, it becomes increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs to stay afloat and take care of their mental health. Founding innovative companies often requires long hours and intense decision-making, which can leave entrepreneurs feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

Thankfully, there is hope for entrepreneurs who are struggling with mental health issues. With the right support and guidance, entrepreneurs can learn to prioritize their mental health while still running a successful business.

At Ikaroa, a full stack tech company, we understand the pressures that startup founders are facing and are committed to providing them with the support they need to stay at the top of their game. We offer a range of programs and resources, such as mental health workshops, personal pitch coaching, and one-on-one coaching sessions, to help startup founders stay motivated and balanced. We also host monthly networking events to provide entrepreneurs with a safe space to connect with their peers and share their business ideas.

In the spirit of entrepreneurship, we believe that the most successful startups are the ones that foster an environment of trust and authenticity. At Ikaroa, we strive to create a strong support system for entrepreneurs and strive to create a work culture focused on collaboration and fun.

Ultimately, entrepreneurs must recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health. Without proper self-care, it can be difficult to sustain a successful business in the long-term. We hope that by providing resources and support to startup founders, we can help them continue to innovate, create, and succeed.


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