Startup founders report that entrepreneurship harms their mental health

by The Insights

Starting a business, whether it’s a social enterprise or a regular business, is a very stressful endeavor and not for everyone. But is it harming the sanity of the founders? The answer, according to a new report, is yes. In fact, many startup founders say the process of starting a business has been detrimental to their well-being.

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

Still, most founders say they would do it again.

It depends The incalculable toll: the impact of stress on the well-being of startup founders and CEOs, a recently published report. Researchers surveyed over 400 start-up founders 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 today’s market, the uncertainty is really high. We see a huge effect on the mental health of founders.

Reluctance to ask for help

According to the report, 72% of founders say entrepreneurship has impacted their mental health, and 37% suffer from anxiety. At the same time, most entrepreneurs seem to smile and bear it, with few doing anything to fix the problem. Only 23% have sought help or consulted a psychologist to discuss the issues they are facing. Eight-one percent say they do not openly share their stresses, fears and challenges. (Some founders turn to their partner or significant other, with 47% frequently sharing their stresses and challenges with their partner and 41% sharing occasionally.)

This reluctance to seek help is likely partly a result of the perception, particularly among men, that there is still a stigma around such measures. According to the results, 55% of men believe that there is a stigma against only 29% of women. This sentiment is also much higher among younger founders, with 59% of those under 35 reporting stigma, compared to 47% of founders over 35.

Founders also worry that sharing their vulnerability will damage their reputation or their chances of success.

“We’ve had many conversations with VCs and startups about what they’re going through. We understand this is a big problem, but we don’t talk about it openly. Benjamin said. “The purpose of the research is to start a conversation that normalizes, and in fact encourages, acceptance of the many entrepreneurial challenges and stressors.”

Investor ranking last

As you’d expect, when it comes to who they turn to for help, investors are ranked last. Fearing that transparency will affect their chances of getting additional funding, 90% of founders say they don’t discuss their stress with their investors.

While such reluctance is understandable, however, it also cuts off founders from a potentially useful source of advice, according to Benjamin, “investors have been there before,” she says. “They could be a great support network.”

Despite the toll on their mental health, most entrepreneurs seem to find the sacrifice worth it. A whopping 93% of them say they would do it again.

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