Monday, July 25, 2016

Founder's Blues: Win But Don’t Risk Your Mental Health

As you all know, being a founder in this rapidly changing world is very demanding, stressful and occasionally lonely. The job can take a toll on your body, mind and spirit so I took the time to put together an unbelievable life plan toolkit. It’s just going through some final touch ups. I promise you you will find it invaluable.

Pre-order it today for $4.95US, please follow the link or click on the “get your copy today” image for more detail.

The following articles are being shared with my fellow founders, leaders, and individuals. I am not endorsing the authors or mentioned entities. Also I recommend you check out my new toolkit which will help you plan your founder life better. It is called, “The Founders Life Plan Tool Kit”. Which was produced by myself and the BJ MANNYST ( team. Our key sponsor FOUNDERS UNDER 40™ GROUP. (



ARTICAL 1:  The Psychological Price Of Entrepreneurship Written by Ryan W

Worldwide, approximately 50 million businesses are launched every year, and experts say three out of four of those startup businesses fail. The pressure to achieve success is enormous, and the stress to defy the odds extends beyond the workroom.

While there are many conversations about the business challenges of a startup, few voice concerns about the psychological effects of entrepreneurship. What guides the entrepreneurial spirit amid stifling emotional hardship, and how can an entrepreneur survive the process?  Here are five of the most common psychological challenges, along with some possible antidotes.

Challenge 1: You handle stress alone.

It’s lonely at the top. And when the pressure is on, you’re on your own. You don’t want to bring your stress home with you and worry the ones you love. You don’t want to create uncertainty among your staff. And you certainly don’t want your investors to lose confidence in you. So, instead, you keep it to yourself and lie awake at night worrying about the days, weeks, and months that lie ahead.

Jeff S, CEO of [Blanked], recently told me about an experience that illustrates the principle perfectly. When he was the CEO of [Blanked], he decided to sell a product OEM instead of using a direct sales model. Jeff’s board thought he was insane and made it clear they didn’t support the idea, but Jeff was confident in his decision. Jeff’s judgment was correct, but he felt alone.

Because entrepreneurs must endure stress and uncertainty alone, it is important to have an outlet. Mine was a trusted mentor that I leaned on for unbiased advice. Yours could be your hair stylist or a golfing partner. As Richard H, Silcon Valley’s top therapist for entrepreneurs such as the CEOs/founders of Twitter, Dropbox, Quora, and eBay stated, “If you’re thinking of starting a business, you better be prepared to experience a whole lot of stress and work incredibly hard.” Make sure to find someone who can be your listening ear.

Remedy: Find a disinterested third party to share your struggles with. A confidant, a mentor, or even a therapist can help you ease the stress without negative ramifications to your business.

Challenge 2: You feel failure acutely.

Failure can be debilitating, especially when you’re an entrepreneur. One of my friends recently experienced some setbacks in his business. He said to me, “I can’t shake the feeling that I have disappointed my family, friends, and employees. I live with it every day.” This psychological effect, if left unchecked, can lead to depression.

Dr. Janice K, a therapist who often works with young entrepreneurs, counsels businesspeople to develop a “tolerance for the unknown.” It requires accepting the fact that in spite of one’s efforts, the end result is beyond one’s control.

As part of her counseling, she asks people to pull out their resumes. She explains that it reminds them where they have been and what they have accomplished up to this point. If an entrepreneur is facing a failed venture, it shouldn’t define him. This is just one point in a whole life of achievement.

Remedy: Reflect on past accomplishments. And remember that, as Winston Churchill said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Challenge 3: You may have to fire your friends.

We’ve all heard the story of the college roommates who wrote a business plan on a napkin, launched a multimillion-dollar business, and remained lifelong friends while visiting each other on their private islands. But not all roommate businesses secure a spot on Inc. 500, and not all cofounders remain friends.

In the early days of a company, it’s very difficult to hire the best and brightest talent. Sometimes your early employees or even cofounders are not able to make the jump from lean startup to a larger organizational setting. In cases like these, it’s often necessary for friends to part ways to move the business forward.

 One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do is let one of our cofounders go. The decision was excruciatingly painful, but it was clear to everyone in the company that he was no longer a good fit for the organization or the culture that had developed within it. I knew that, no matter how much I liked and respected him, we had to part ways for the business to grow. This is a price that no entrepreneur wants to pay, but it is something that every entrepreneur eventually experiences.

Remedy: Cultivate and maintain lasting friendships outside of work. When a business relationship or friendship falls by the wayside, there are other friendships that you can rely on.

Challenge 4: It’s hard to create a work/life balance.

For an entrepreneur, problems don’t rest when the clock strikes five o’clock. For us, the workday is 24 hours, and the workweek is a full seven days. When the buck stops here, problems can become all-consuming.

One way to combat this is to actively cultivate an identity outside of work. “People who are on the energetic, motivated, and creative side are both more likely to be entrepreneurial and more likely to have strong emotional states,” wrote Michael Freeman, a psychiatrist specializing in mental health and entrepreneurship. “Build a life centered on the belief that self-worth is not the same as net worth.”

For me, I find the healthiest balance when I focus on my family—and Freeman indicates that this is a powerful tool to combat depression among entrepreneurs: “Don’t let your business squeeze out your connections with human beings,” he says. Relationships with friends and family can be life savers.

Remedy: Cultivate an identity and relationships outside of work. If your business fails, you’ll still have a life.

Challenge 5. You endure constant market pressures.

In a startup environment, you must innovate heavily or sell. This is particularly true in tech.

You have to stay constantly up or lose your business in a heartbeat. In truth, everyone is trying to disrupt the next guy. I sold my first company because we could see what was coming in the industry. People weren’t buying desktops anymore. I had the choice of investing heavily in a company I worked hard to create, or sell it. I sold it.

While it’s impossible to avoid market pressures, there are some things you can do to mitigate the psychological stress. You can review five-year goals regularly, identify pain points, brainstorm innovative solutions, and remain up-to-date on best practices in the industry.

Remedy: Keep things in perspective. When progress seems particularly hard, it may be a sign that it’s time to reevaluate your goals or brainstorm innovations.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well in this country. Ideas are flourishing every day. The development of your idea may take over a large part of you, but it shouldn’t take over every part.  By finding healthy outlets for relieving stress, gaining perspective on setbacks, establishing perimeters with personal and business partnerships and keeping pressures in check, you can avoid some of the mental and emotional hardships that affect so many entrepreneurs and be well on your way to lasting success.


ARTICAL 2: The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship (Different content) written by By Jessica B

No one said building a company is easy. But it's time to be honest about how brutal it really is -- and the price so many founders secretly pay.

By all counts and measures, Bradley S is an unequivocal business success. He's CEO of [Blanked], an Irvine, California-based financial services company that had sales of nearly $32 million last year. Smith's company has grown some 1,400 percent in the last three years, landing it at No. [Blanked] on this year's Inc. 500. So you might never guess that just five years ago, [Blanked] was on the brink of financial ruin--and mental collapse.

Back in 2008, [Blanked] was working long hours counseling nervous clients about getting out of debt. But his calm demeanor masked a secret: He shared their fears. Like them, Smith was sinking deeper and deeper into debt. He had driven himself far into the red starting--of all things--a debt-settlement company. "I was hearing how depressed and strung out my clients were, but in the back of my mind I was thinking to myself, I've got twice as much debt as you do," Smith recalls.

He had cashed in his 401(k) and maxed out a $60,000 line of credit. He had sold the Rolex he bought with his first-ever paycheck during an earlier career as a stockbroker. And he had humbled himself before his father--the man who raised him on maxims such as "money doesn't grow on trees" and "never do business with family"--by asking for $10,000, which he received at 5 percent interest after signing a promissory note.

[Blanked] projected optimism to his co-founders and 10 employees, but his nerves were shot. "My wife and I would share a bottle of $5 wine for dinner and just kind of look at each other," [Blanked] says. "We knew we were close to the edge." Then the pressure got worse: The couple learned they were expecting their first child. "There were sleepless nights, staring at the ceiling," [Blanked] recalls. "I'd wake up at 4 in the morning with my mind racing, thinking about this and that, not being able to shut it off, wondering, When is this thing going to turn?" After eight months of constant anxiety, Smith's company finally began making money.

Successful entrepreneurs achieve hero status in our culture. We idolize the Mark Zuckerbergs and the Elon Musks. And we celebrate the blazingly fast growth of the Inc. 500 companies. But many of those entrepreneurs, like [Blanked], harbor secret demons: Before they made it big, they struggled through moments of near-debilitating anxiety and despair--times when it seemed everything might crumble.

"It's like a man riding a lion. People think, 'This guy's brave.' And he's thinking, 'How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?"
Until recently, admitting such sentiments was taboo. Rather than showing vulnerability, business leaders have practiced what social psychiatrists call impression management--also known as "fake it till you make it." Toby T, CEO of [Blanked] (No. [Blanked] on the Inc. 500), explains the phenomenon with his favorite analogy: a man riding a lion. "People look at him and think, This guy's really got it together! He's brave!" says Thomas. "And the man riding the lion is thinking, How the hell did I get on a lion, and how do I keep from getting eaten?"

Not everyone who walks through darkness makes it out. In January, well-known founder Jody S, 47, of the e-commerce site [Blanked] took his own life. His death shook the start-up community. It also reignited a discussion about entrepreneurship and mental health that began two years earlier after the suicide of Ilya Z, the 22-year-old co-founder of [Blanked], a social networking site.

Lately, more entrepreneurs have begun speaking out about their internal struggles in an attempt to combat the stigma on depression and anxiety that makes it hard for sufferers to seek help. In a deeply personal post called "When Death Feels Like a Good Option," Ben H, the CEO of the [Blanked] humor websites, wrote about his suicidal thoughts following a failed startup in 2001. Sean P, a former MySpace vice president and co-founder of the children's clothing startup [Blanked], penned a piece called "When It's Not All Good, Ask for Help" on his website. "I was to the edge and back a few times this past year with my business and own depression," he wrote. "If you're about to lose it, please contact me." ([Blanked] now urges distressed entrepreneurs to seek professional help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

Brad F, a managing director of the [Blanked], started blogging in October about his latest episode of depression. The problem wasn't new--the prominent venture capitalist had struggled with mood disorders throughout his adult life--and he didn't expect much of a response. But then came the emails. Hundreds of them. Many were from entrepreneurs who had also wrestled with anxiety and despair. (For more of [Blanked]'s thoughts on depression, see his column, "Surviving the Dark Nights of the Soul," in Inc.'s July/August issue.) "If you saw the list of names, it would surprise you a great deal," says [Blanked]. "They are very successful people, very visible, very charismatic--yet they've struggled with this silently. There's a sense that they can't talk about it, that it's a weakness or a shame or something. They feel like they're hiding, which makes the whole thing worse."

If you run a business, that probably all sounds familiar. It's a stressful job that can create emotional turbulence. For starters, there's the high risk of failure. Three out of four venture-backed startups fail, according to research by Shikhar G, a Harvard Business School lecturer. Ghosh also found that more than 95 percent of startups fall short of their initial projections.

Entrepreneurs often juggle many roles and face countless setbacks--lost customers, disputes with partners, increased competition, staffing problems--all while struggling to make payroll. "There are traumatic events all the way along the line," says psychiatrist and former entrepreneur Michael F, who is researching mental health and entrepreneurship.

Complicating matters, new entrepreneurs often make themselves less resilient by neglecting their health. They eat too much or too little. They don't get enough sleep. They fail to exercise. "You can get into a startup mode, where you push yourself and abuse your body," [Blanked] says. "That can trigger mood vulnerability."

So it should come as little surprise that entrepreneurs experience more anxiety than employees. In the latest [Blanked] Well-Being Index, 34 percent of entrepreneurs--4 percentage points more than other workers--reported they were worried. And 45 percent of entrepreneurs said they were stressed, 3 percentage points more than other workers.

But it may be more than a stressful job that pushes some founders over the edge. According to researchers, many entrepreneurs share innate character traits that make them more vulnerable to mood swings. "People who are on the energetic, motivated, and creative side are both more likely to be entrepreneurial and more likely to have strong emotional states," says [Blanked]. Those states may include depression, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation, and suicidal thinking.

Call it the downside of being up. The same passionate dispositions that drive founders heedlessly toward success can sometimes consume them. Business owners are "vulnerable to the dark side of obsession," suggest researchers from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. They conducted interviews with founders for a study about entrepreneurial passion. The researchers found that many subjects displayed signs of clinical obsession, including strong feelings of distress and anxiety, which have "the potential to lead to impaired functioning," they wrote in a paper published in the Entrepreneurship Research Journal in April.

Reinforcing that message is John G, a practicing psychologist who teaches at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. In his book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, Gartner argues that an often-overlooked temperament--hypomania--may be responsible for some entrepreneurs' strengths as well as their flaws.

A milder version of mania, hypomania often occurs in the relatives of manic-depressives and affects an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of Americans. "If you're manic, you think you're Jesus," says Gartner. "If you're hypomanic, you think you're God's gift to technology investing. We're talking about different levels of grandiosity but the same symptoms."

Gartner theorizes that there are so many hypomanics--and so many entrepreneurs--in the U.S. because our country's national character rose on waves of immigration. "We're a self-selected population," he says. "Immigrants have unusual ambition, energy, drive, and risk tolerance, which lets them take a chance on moving for a better opportunity. These are biologically based temperament traits. If you seed an entire continent with them, you're going to get a nation of entrepreneurs."

Though driven and innovative, hypomanics are at much higher risk for depression than the general population, notes Gartner. Failure can spark these depressive episodes, of course, but so can anything that slows a hypomanic's momentum. "They're like border collies--they have to run," says Gartner. "If you keep them inside, they chew up the furniture. They go crazy; they just pace around. That's what hypomanics do. They need to be busy, active, overworking."

"Entrepreneurs have struggled silently. There's a sense that they can't talk about it, that it's a weakness."

No matter what your psychological makeup, big setbacks in your business can knock you flat. Even experienced entrepreneurs have had the rug pulled out from under them. Mark W launched [Blanked], a management consulting firm, in 1992. In 2009, his phone stopped ringing.

Caught in the global financial crisis, his customers were suddenly more concerned with survival than with boosting their output. Sales plummeted 75 percent. [Blanked] laid off his half-dozen employees. Before long, he had exhausted his assets: cars, jewelry, anything that could go. His supply of confidence was dwindling, too. "As CEO, you have this self-image--you're the master of the universe," he says. "Then all of a sudden, you are not."

[Blanked] stopped leaving his house. Anxious and low on self-esteem, he started eating too much--and put on 50 pounds. Sometimes he sought temporary relief in an old addiction: playing the guitar. Locked in a room, he practiced solos by Stevie R and Chet A. "It was something I could do just for the love of doing it," he recalls. "Then there was nothing but me, the guitar, and the peace."

Through it all, he kept working to develop new services. He just hoped his company would hang on long enough to sell them. In 2010, customers started to return. [Blanked] scored its biggest-ever contract, with an aerospace manufacturer, on the basis of a white paper [Blanked] had written during the downturn. Last year, [Blanked]'s revenue hit $7 million. Sales are up more than 5,000 percent since 2009, earning the company a spot at No. 57 on this year's Inc. 500.

[Blanked] says he's more resilient now, tempered by tough times. "I used to be like, 'My work is me,' " he says. "Then you fail. And you find out that your kids still love you. Your wife still loves you. Your dog still loves you."

But for many entrepreneurs, the battle wounds never fully heal. That was the case for John P, CEO of [Blanked], a Laramie, Wyoming-based energy technology firm. On Dec. 11, 2002, Pope had exactly $8.42 in the bank. He was 90 days late on his car payment. He was 75 days behind on the mortgage. The IRS had filed a lien against him. His home phone, cell phone, and cable TV had all been turned off. In less than a week, the natural-gas company was scheduled to suspend service to the house he shared with his wife and daughters. Then there would be no heat. His company was expecting a wire transfer from the oil company Shell, a strategic investor, after months of negotiations had ended with a signed 380-page contract. So Pope waited.

The wire arrived the next day. Pope--along with his company--was saved. Afterward, he made a list of all the ways in which he had financially overreached. "I'm going to remember this," he recalls thinking. "It's the farthest I'm willing to go."

Since then, [Blanked] has taken off: In the past three years, sales grew more than 3,700 percent, to $8 million, making the company No. [Blanked] on the Inc. 500. But emotional residue from the years of tumult still lingers. "There's always that feeling of being overextended, of never being able to relax," says [Blanked]. "You end up with a serious confidence problem. You feel like every time you build up security, something happens to take it away."

[Blanked] sometimes catches himself emotionally overreacting to small things. It's a behavior pattern that reminds him of posttraumatic stress disorder. "Something happens, and you freak out about it," he says. "But the scale of the problem is a lot less than the scale of your emotional reaction. That just comes with the scar tissue of going through these things."

"If you're manic, you think you're Jesus. If you're hypomanic, you think you're God's gift to technology investing."John G

Though launching a company will always be a wild ride, full of ups and downs, there are things entrepreneurs can do to help keep their lives from spiraling out of control, say experts. Most important, make time for your loved ones, suggests [Blanked]. "Don't let your business squeeze out your connections with human beings," he says. When it comes to fighting off depression, relationships with friends and family can be powerful weapons. And don't be afraid to ask for help--see a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, or depression.

[Blanked] also advises that entrepreneurs limit their financial exposure. When it comes to assessing risk, entrepreneurs' blind spots are often big enough to drive a Mack truck through, he says. The consequences can rock not only your bank account but also your stress levels. So set a limit for how much of your own money you're prepared to invest. And don't let friends and family kick in more than they can afford to lose.

Cardiovascular exercise, a healthful diet, and adequate sleep all help, too. So does cultivating an identity apart from your company. "Build a life centered on the belief that self-worth is not the same as net worth," says [Blanked]. "Other dimensions of your life should be part of your identity." Whether you're raising a family, sitting on the board of a local charity, building model rockets in the backyard, or going swing dancing on weekends, it's important to feel successful in areas unrelated to work.

The ability to reframe failure and loss can also help leaders maintain good mental health. "Instead of telling yourself, 'I failed, the business failed, I'm a loser,' " says [Blanked], "look at the data from a different perspective: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Life is a constant process of trial and error. Don't exaggerate the experience."

Last, be open about your feelings--don't mask your emotions, even at the office, suggests [Blanked]. When you are willing to be emotionally honest, he says, you can connect more deeply with the people around you. "When you deny yourself and you deny what you're about, people can see through that," says [Blanked]. "Willingness to be vulnerable is very powerful for a leader."

From the September 2013 issue of Inc. Magazine


ARTICAL 3: Why So Many Entrepreneurs Struggle with Mental Illness by Chris G

Although we often read stories about successful [Blanked] startups – [Blanked], and others – the reality is that many startups fail, and even those that succeed often experience a series of extreme highs and lows as they grow. With failure constantly looming, and workplace stress levels having doubled since 2009, according to a 2013 study by [Blanked] it shouldn’t come as a surprise that entrepreneurs are more likely to experience mental health conditions than the general public. In fact, these mental health concerns have been reported across 72 per cent of entrepreneurs, compared to a mere 7 per cent of the general public, leading to what’s been termed the “Founder’s Blues.”

The causes for the Founder’s Blues are easy to identify. Founders experience immense pressure when starting and attempting to build their own businesses. A constant state of anxiety, extremely high expectations, long hours and a lack of time taken for their mental and physical well-being are what affect the leaders behind these companies most. The larger the gap between the reality and the expectations a founder had, the higher their level of stress. The desire to do whatever it takes to succeed combined with having to project a confident image to investors, customers, and employees makes it especially difficult for individuals to discuss their struggles.

These issues with depression and other mental illnesses are often kept quiet by those suffering, and often it takes tragedy to reignite the conversation about founders and mental health. Between 2011 and 2015 several high-profile suicides in the start-up world brought the issue to light, including the death of Austen Heinz, a biotech entrepreneur and the founder of Cambrian Genomics; Aaron Swartz, the co-founder of Reddit; and Jody Sherman, the founder of Ecomom.

One key issue behind founder depression is that entrepreneurs don’t have adequate self-care systems in place. According to Fortune magazine, 13 per cent of startups fail because their founders have lost focus, 9 per cent fail because they’ve lost their passion, and 8 per cent fail due to founder burnout, meaning 30 per cent of startups fail due to the emotional state of their founders. Entrepreneurs are more prone to mental illness because they’re more likely to neglect their health: their diets are often poor, they almost never get enough sleep, and many never make time for exercise. This startup mentality of pushing yourself to the brink can trigger mood vulnerability, which makes stress and anxiety that much harder to cope with.

Developing a self-care plan is essential to combatting mental health issues among entrepreneurs. Making time to care for your body, spending time with your loved ones, and booking appointments with professionals are vital steps to take in the journey to maintaining a balanced and positive outlook.

It’s also important to have a benefits or wellness program in place at the company level to ensure you and your employees can access wellness programs and counselling through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs).

Lots of entrepreneurs are also becoming more open about their struggles with depression and anxiety, and helping other founders deal with their own mental health issues.

Increasing the conversation about founders and mental health is one step that will help entrepreneurs feel more comfortable talking about their own struggles, and putting a self-care plan in place for your personal life and your company are two ways to ensure you can adequately deal with the Founder’s Blues.


0 click to comment:

Post a Comment


FSHOP - Find Products & Services For Founders / Businesses

Follow by Email

Leads Tips + Get Manny

Leads Tips + Get Manny

Featured Post

How Does A Marketing Service Provider Like BJ Mannyst Help Our Service Business?

There’s no single day that goes by that our team doesn’t think about how do we assist the millions: of local small medium service busine...

Join Founders

Join Founders
Join Unconventional Founders Community

Search This Blog

Popular Posts

Blog Archive


Whatsapp Us

If necessary, you are welcome to WHATSAPP us (mobile)



Providing unconventional and conventional marketing service and business solutions, that focuses on early & growing service oriented organization. Proud partner to Founders Under 40 Group

Use form first so we can personalized engagement because we don't serve everyone.

Contact form

EM: info[at]foundersunder40[dot]com
Whatsapp: whatsapp us
Skype: amhiredaidto
Chat: IM, SMS
SF: 415 -- 763 -- 1082
TO: 647 -- 954 -- 9190
Mon – Sat 9am – 7pm Eastern Time
Toronto. New York. US. Europe. Africa.