Founders’ Guide to Thrive: Mental Health & You

As a startup founder, you’re always thinking about multiple things at the same time!  With COVID, we’re sure that you’ve got even more to worry about! 

You’ve dedicated all your time to solve a problem- this drive and passion are commendable. But with it, comes numerous bouts of self-doubt, urgency, and high expectations mostly from yourself.

Not only that, but you’re also worried about making money- and that is where the often ignored and seedy underbelly of the entrepreneurial world lies. Every entrepreneur, before they finally made it, in one way or another, faced terrifying anxiety and despondency- one that seemed eternally crippling. Juggling between multiple roles causes a lot of tension and unprecedented stress- you can unwittingly abuse your mind and body, neglecting it all to achieve a certain goal you set your mind to.

Contrary to what you might think, this actually makes you less resilient and makes you vulnerable to mood swings. This is why founders are more likely to experience anxiety than their employees. And don’t get us started on how difficult life has gotten since COVID-19! 

What we’re trying to say is, don’t forget about yourself during all this. Being under pressure can also cause severe pessimism and very often, a burnout! (Yes, it is just as bad as you think it is.) 

Hand drawn world mental health day Free Vector

Here are some things you should keep in mind to avoid falling prey to mental illnesses:

  1. We cannot stress the importance of this enough- make some time for your family and friends. They play a tremendous role in warding off depression and can help you make your way through troubled times.
  2. Keep moving! Studies have shown that regular movement through exercise actually helps prevent illnesses.
  3. Build a trusted support network amongst your fellow founders. Find followers at similar stages and help foster communication between each other. A small group where you can share deeply and honestly, considering you’re in a relatable position. It’ll help bring you and them solace and also help learn together. 
  4. Learn to look at failure and loss from a different perspective- you want to learn and grow from these experiences, you do not want them to set you back. Everything we do is reliant on a process of trials and errors, this moment too is one of them, it will pass.
  5. Consider speaking to a counsellor or mental health professional. An impartial party will help you feel supported and also give you the room you need to explore how you’re doing and feeling.
  6. Carve out some space to set goals for how you want to be, feel, and what you want to focus on every day.
  7. Separate work from home. As a child, my mother set strict ground rules for our family. All schoolwork/office work was to be done in school/office and at home, we would work towards ourselves. This gave us the room to grow and develop ourselves without the additional burden of our professional lives. 
  8. Instead of celebrating the outcome, celebrate your journey! In the rush of things, we often overlook the smaller, more important, milestones. Even with the smallest validation, you’ll feel much happier and prouder of how far you’ve come.
  9. When you keep it to yourself, you will overwhelm yourself. Find an outlet in journaling or observing the things around you. This exercise will help you spot any patterns in your behaviour that you might otherwise be missing.

“What about my employees?”

With this pattern of an increasingly uncertain future and the aftermath of COVID will only add to the stress and anxiety faced by you and your employees. Create an environment of love and support in your work environment. This will foster a positive attitude towards and also start a conversation about mental health. 

When it comes to the future of your business, consider joining the Intuit Circles community. A strategic startup ecosystem engagement initiative by Intuit, the community facilitates business growth and knowledge for startups through smart-tech. It aims at powering prosperity for startups by providing for some of their biggest needs.

Thank you so much for reading, if you’d like to learn about Fundraising in the Post-COVID era, read here.

Contributed by:
Sanskriti Bhatnagar
Headstart Network Foundation