Being an entrepreneur can be one of the most rewarding and liberating things you can do as a career. Equally valid, being an entrepreneur can be one of the most frustrating and emotional roles you can choose to make a living. Schools are great at teaching you how to succeed when starting a new business, but do these schools properly prepare entrepreneurs if their companies fail? The fact is almost 40% of new businesses fail within the first five years, and 57% of start-ups fail within the first ten years. As entrepreneurs, do we have a responsibility to today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to emotionally prepare them if their businesses do not survive?
Some universities are paying attention to the significant role that mental health plays in the part of entrepreneurialism. The argument may be by using the metaphor of the racecar driver and the wall. You drive where you look. If you look for the wall, that’s where you’ll end up hitting it. But consequently, ignoring that the wall exists can have equally damaging and dire consequences. Sometimes knowing when to walk away can allow our warrior to fight another day. We can use our past failures effectively by teaching resiliency, growing from the experience, and refining our chosen path.
The University of Guelph recognizes the role that mental health plays in the success of entrepreneurs. As part of their Bigger Picture Series, they’ve asked me to be the keynote speaker at their event on November 16th, focusing on the Mental Health for Entrepreneurs.
These are the contributing factors to maintaining an Entrepreneur’s mental health.
One of the inherent traits of entrepreneurs is optimism. Optimism is essential, but not when it comes to the sacrifice of reality. One of the most significant errors is when the business becomes self-sufficient, i.e. when the company generates positive cash flow. Start-ups can be a cash cow when it comes to burning through money. Still, careful consideration needs to be taken when a company starts generating its revenue and becomes less dependent upon debt financing. Allow for a more extended timeframe when modelling self-sufficiency. Many companies close their doors prematurely because they run out of money.
Passion Drives Behaviour
To dedicate the time, energy and resources to a project, you need to love what you do with every fibre of your being. Your belief is what fuels your energy and enthusiasm. Your unwavering commitment also fuels your employees’ loyalty. If you are lukewarm about something, it will only yield mediocre results. You require the ultimate conviction to get you through setbacks and challenges.
Get a Mentor, Be a Mentor
Many understand the importance of having a mentor. A mentor will lend invaluable insight, short rope your impediments and help you reach your outcome when facing adversity. Equally important is to have access to a panel of experts who have faced similar challenges throughout their careers. Many peer advisory groups can fulfil this function within your entrepreneurial world. Many peer advisors consist of business owners or executives who have summited some of the many obstacles you will face along your entrepreneurial journey. They are happy to help you navigate some of the hurdles they may have faced early on in their careers.
Remember to Balance Work & Personal Life
If there is such a thing as work-life balance, then one needs to ensure that one doesn’t happen at the sacrifice of the other. Assuming that your relationship or your family will be there regardless is the wrong assumption. Suppose you’re looking at all the areas of your “wheel of life”; family, friends, work, personal growth, physical and mental health, and finances. What gets the attention gets the desired results. Consequently, whatever gets ignored gets displaced. It may be impossible to keep all elements synchronous, but if you overlook an area altogether, you’re in for a very bumpy ride.
Focus on Both Physical and Mental Health
Experts say that exercise is the best natural antidepressant; however, exclusively doing exercise without mental work can be emotionally harmful. Regular yoga, meditation, hypnosis and general mindfulness can be as healthy as a rigorous workout. Also, mental health leads to better sleeping patterns.
Get Comfortable with being Uncomfortable
Not everyone is cut out to be an Entrepreneur. Also, there is a time and a place when one should consider choosing to be an Entrepreneur. As an example, when you have fewer encumbrances, financial responsibilities and family obligations. If you have all these things weighing on your mind, it distorts your judgement, clarity and creates a ton of additional stress and pressure. Not that there’s an ideal time when to go out and start your own business, but there’s definitely a wrong time.
In October 2013, I should’ve taken heed to my advice. I started up my second business while going through an ugly divorce and being sued by a former employer for breaching a non-compete clause of an employment contract. There’s nothing like adding a little more pressure to your plate.
Failure is Part of the Process
You will make mistakes. The most important thing is to acknowledge them, recognize when you make them and immediately learn from them. All businesses aren’t successful. If this were easy, then everyone would be doing it. Knowing when to pack it in is equally important. Don’t mistake optimism for stupidity. It’s essential to have that line in the sand drawn in advance to know when to say you’ve had enough. When I realized I’d lost my passion for the work we were doing in my first business, it should’ve been a prime indicator. When you get backed into a corner with no way out is not a choice but a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The last thing entrepreneurs want is to feel is being hemmed into a corner with no way out. Entrepreneurism is supposed to represent the ultimate freedom. Being handcuffed to your business defies everything that entrepreneurs seek. No entrepreneur wants a job they’re tethered to with no escape. If you’re a slave to your business, to the bank, to investors, to employees, it won’t be long until you’re feeling the walls closing in around you. That feeling of stress will throttle your energy, your creativity, your drive and your passion. Many will start showing symptoms of brain fog and depressive symptoms. Give yourself flexibility, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, love what you do and embrace the spirit of entrepreneurism.
Through the bankruptcy of his first business, a strong balance sheet means nothing unless you can get the money out of your business and into your hands personally, tax efficiently, and creditor protected. Chris helps and coaches business owners to avoid a similar fate as he suffered in his first business.
Through several clever strategies, he illustrates how these little-known vehicles can get money out of your business efficiently, build your corporate brand and create a legacy through charitable means to help make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.
Also, he has seen the impact that mental health can have upon success within your business and your life and how the two are on a constant collision course. When Chris became aware that Entrepreneurs struggled with their mental health at more than twice the rate of average adults, he realized he wasn’t alone and made it his ambition to understand why and do something to help. His business, The Finish Line Group, aims to help support the entrepreneur’s financial, philanthropic, and emotional needs.
Chris’ Why Statement remains, “To openly communicate the lessons learned from my past so that others will thrive in their lives, minimize their setbacks and leave a positive and lasting legacy.”