When you look at a successful entrepreneur, you probably think they've got everything together. After all, to juggle all the things you need to do to build a successful business - from accounts and bookkeeping to marketing, networking, sourcing products, admin and actually doing the work - you need to be pretty on top of things. But the truth is, that often isn't the case. And while no one said that building a business from the ground up was easy, I think it's time we were honest about how brutal it can really be, and why mental health is the price many entrepreneurs pay for their success.
Poor Mental Health in Entrepreneurs
No matter how successful they become, entrepreneurs are all vulnerable to the same mental health problems as everyone else. In fact, they are more susceptible, and a shockingly high percentage of entrepreneurs will experience some form of mental health issue in their time as a business owner. According to studies by the National Institute of Mental Health, around 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues, and 49% of entrepreneurs deal with mental health issues directly.
Let's put that into perspective. According to the NHS, 1 in 4 adults will experience mental illness. But according to research by Michael Freeman, being an entrepreneur increases your risk by 50%, with certain conditions being more common than others. His research found that, compared to the general population, entrepreneurs are:
- Twice as likely to suffer from depression
- Six times more likely to suffer from ADHD
- Three times more likely to suffer from substance abuse
- Ten times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder
- Twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts
I hope you'll agree that those statistics are quite startling! On top of this, business owners are more likely to struggle with burnout, chronic anxiety, insomnia, loneliness and isolation, and other health problems related to chronic stress.
Speaking on his findings, Freeman says something very interesting: '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. Those states can include depression, despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, loss of motivation and suicidal thinking.
And that's absolutely right. As an entrepreneur you go through something of a rollercoaster. There are exhilarating highs followed quickly by very sudden lows. A normal corporate job doesn't prepare you for this kind of environment, and the unexpected ups and downs (sometimes at high speed) are bound to take their toll. And if you're more inclined to strong emotional states, as many entrepreneurs are, then these can be much more intense, and so more difficult to handle.
So, as well as being an empowering, freeing adventure, entrepreneurship is often an incredibly rocky road to success, and includes the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and a life of constant ups and downs.
Recognising The Signs of Poor Mental Health
If you've never experienced mental health issues before, then recognising the signs may be hard to spot. But it's important for business owners to understand what the signs of mental illness are, be able to recognise them if they've experiencing any and know what action to take to improve things. This is mainly because if your mental health is starting to decline, then it will have a negative impact on your business. You won't be able to do as much, your motivation will decrease, and your results will start to suffer. Eventually if not action is taken then you could end up in a downward spiral, and unfortunately that spiral has claimed many great businesses.
So, what are some signs that your mental health is suffering? While mental health problems can manifest differently in everyone, some of the most common things a business owner should be aware of are:
- Trouble sleeping
- Worrying more than usual
- Changes in confidence
- Avoiding certain tasks
- Increased irritability
All of these things are the brains way of signalling to you that something is wrong. And yes, while we may worry, overthink and procrastinate occasionally as business owners, when these things start to interfere with your daily life and running your business they are a symptom of something bigger.
The Problem With The 'Entrepreneurial Mindset'
I often hear the phrase 'entrepreneurial mindset' when talking about other business owners. It's mainly used a compliment. Someone with an entrepreneurial mindset has the ability to see and make the most of opportunities, overcome and learn from setbacks, manage pressure, adapt to new ways of working, be decisive and be able to accept responsibility for your outcomes. And all of those are great things, and qualities that almost all entrepreneurs have in spades.
But there is another side to the entrepreneurial mindset, and it's part of the reason there is such a mental health crisis among business owners. They often struggle to ask for help. This is one of the single biggest challenges entrepreneurs face when dealing with mental health, and it's also one of the most damaging. There is an inherent pressures to show strength. After all, everything depends on you, and often entrepreneurs put the needs of their business before their own basic human needs like sleep, food and health. Who among us can say we haven't skipped a meal to focus on work, or pulled an all-nighter finishing a project for a customer? It's become part of the culture of being a business owner, and it really isn't good for us. Combine the pressure to be strong, productive and focused with the stigma still surrounding mental illness, and many entrepreneurs actively avoid seeking help for their mental health issues.
But that needs to change. Entrepreneurs need to recognise that in order to be the most successful version of themselves, they need to take care of themselves. That they cannot possibly run a healthy business if their own mental health is suffering.
How Can Hypnotherapy Help Entrepreneurs?
So, how can hypnotherapy help? Mainly, it helps to alleviate a lot of the worry and address the negative thought patterns that can plague entrepreneurs and hinder success. Hypnotherapy works by putting you into a deeply relaxed state and working with your subconscious mind and thoughts, creating new neural pathways that can lead to positive long-term change. Rather than simply trying to overwrite negative thoughts, hypnotherapy uses specific suggestions to forge those new pathways and ways of thinking, changing the way you show up and behave in your life and in your business. Hypnotherapy can be an incredibly useful tool to help entrepreneurs conquer common issues like confidence, self-doubt, procrastination, limiting beliefs, sleep and resilience, leading to an improvement in personal and business success.
If you recognise any of the things I've described above, then it might be time to have a conservation. Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people, but that doesn't mean we are immune, and mental health problems can affect us worst of all. If you would like some support in building your personal and business success, I would love to help. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with me and book your free, initial chat.