When we all moved to new modes of work, the global pandemic slammed the brakes on ‘hustle culture’ as we once knew it.
The trend for non-stop work was never cool anyway, but for most entrepreneurs, that’s just their reality.
A study of US-based business owners found that 72% were affected in some way by mental health issues, and plenty has been said about entrepreneur burnout.
While COVID-19 may have changed some things for the better, it’s added a lot of uncertainty to our lives, too.
So, how do we identify and manage the key stressors in entrepreneurship?
After all, scaling a business can be incredible – the Zyro team knows that all too well. It’s important to know that support is there when you need it so that you can carry on chasing your dreams.
When does hustle turn to struggle?
Even without the added pressure of the pandemic, running your own business can often send you into a spiral of self-doubt.
Some of the contributing factors to poor mental health include:
Fear of failure
Quitting your full-time job, investing your savings, and building a business based on your own ideas – entrepreneurialism is high-risk.
You’ll likely find yourself thinking about your business constantly. Even when you start to succeed, as a business owner it can be hard to take a step back and breathe.
Prior to COVID-19 office closures, we all dreamed of being able to mute our co-workers at least once. But going into business alone can be a hard adjustment to make.
Without anyone else to share ideas, concerns, and strategies with, you can often feel unsupported as an entrepreneur.
It’s now up to you to create your own schedule. But if your mind is constantly working overtime, you’ll probably work overtime, too.
Knowing when to stop and rest can be hard – or easy to ignore – when you’re busy building a business. Working at 100% all the time is never sustainable long-term, though.
How to deal with the downsides
Don’t be discouraged – if you’re clever enough to start a business, you can make a plan to prioritize your own wellbeing.
If you’re already on the startup journey, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re looking after yourself.
Take some lessons from the crisis: the first, that anything can change at any moment, and the second, that mental health really matters.
There’s a lot you can do to prepare for anything from disaster to success – here are some suggestions:
Find connections where you can
That doesn’t mean you have to become a personality on LinkedIn or get on the conference circuit.
Even hardcore introverts need human interaction. We all deserve the ability to discuss our ideas and issues with other people, whether they’re industry mentors or friends and family.
So, talk to people. If you need to schedule everything in your life, schedule a weekly check-in with a fellow entrepreneur. Chances are, they’ll benefit from the chat just as much as you will.
Set some personal boundaries
It can be tricky to not think that relaxation equals laziness. Many entrepreneurs are made to feel like failures if they don’t put in 18-hour days and 7-day weeks.
But not factoring in any downtime will do more harm than good. Think about what you love – what helps you to switch off? It might be cooking, running, or even a bath and a red wine.
Consider this thing your non-negotiable: something that makes you happy, and that you can do once a day or week. Make time for it from the outset.
Ask for help when you need it
It’s easier said than done, but help can come in all shapes and sizes. You could outsource business tasks, for example, or start to build a team.
Perhaps you can find help from within your friend group, or maybe you need to talk to a mental health professional. Whatever it is, remember that help doesn’t equate to weakness.
Or, consider an option that often feels like it’s off the table in business: communicate with the competition. It could just be the best thing you’ve done – we’ll explain how.
Embracing healthy competition
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to thrive in business is to embrace your rivals and sometimes even collaborate with them.
This isn’t a brand new idea, but during the pandemic, companies came together.
In the UK, for example, car manufacturers Ford and Rolls Royce were part of a group of businesses helping produce equipment for the National Health Service.
Plus, several big-name grocery stores united to support Sainsbury’s supermarket, following a racist backlash to its Christmas advert.
But this kind of solidarity isn’t just reserved for huge companies and significant moments.
You can (and should) support your fellow business owners. There is such a thing as healthy competition, and embracing it can really help you out. Here’s why:
It helps your industry to grow
More often than not, successful businesses are offering the customer something different within an existing industry. And that’s not a bad thing at all.
For your startup to succeed, your industry needs to be growing and thriving. This will help create a need that encourages more customers to use your services and those of your competitors.
It pushes you to innovate
Although we all favor originality, sometimes nothing quite ignites the imagination like seeing what someone else is doing.
Having competition will inspire you to innovate new things to make your business better. Without anything to compare your company to, there’s no real reason for you to want to grow.
Knowledge is power
Working in a silo means never really knowing if what you’re doing is right for your industry, customers, and employees.
Having healthy competition gives you the chance to access shared market, technology, or supplier information, plus it’ll help you ensure your team is thriving.
You can team up and create something amazing
If there’s an issue in your industry, or a need that only your type of business can fulfill, it makes sense to work with your competitors.
Take a look at how mega-corps Unilever and Tata came together to help improve sustainability in the tea industry. It accelerated a much-needed change, benefitting both companies.
You might need each other
The pandemic has been a wild ride, and our competitors helped us to see that we’re not alone. When an industry is jeopardized by something like COVID-19, businesses need to work together.
Whether it’s lobbying your local government for support, reassuring your customers, or finding new ways of working, your competitors could become your greatest allies.