Industries |

The Key Lifeline in the World of a Startup Founder

Industries | 9 May 2018

While success and entrepreneurship are glorified, there is a side of the success story people don’t really talk about: what it takes when one leaps into entrepreneurship. Little do we know that successful entrepreneurs are often lonely.

A recent study by the University of California has found that the proportion of entrepreneurs who self-report on mental health concerns is significantly higher than the general population. Photo courtesy of Pexels/NOW!JAKARTA

Being the owner and operator of a business forces entrepreneurs to wear different hats and put in more work. A study by RealBusiness revealed that most entrepreneurs work 63 per cent longer than average workers, which equals to 65.2 hours of work per week. It is very easy to get caught up in a never-ending to-do-list, long hours of work, and other concerns making entrepreneurs prone to burnout without them noticing.

From the insane pressure, technical meltdowns, awful market acceptance, to deals gone sour, it’s important for entrepreneurs to stay intact and remain focused on reaching their target. After all, the leaders’ well-being affects their view on problems, decision making, and eventually how the business is managed.

The rarely-talked-about lifestyle has been scientifically proven to potentially wreak havoc into one’s psychological well-being. Especially in markets where it’s still considered taboo for leaders to confide in one another, understanding that friends and family would be commonly the last parties one would share with about the tough-waves in their business journey.

A recent study by the University of California has found that the proportion of entrepreneurs who self-report on mental health concerns is significantly higher than the general population. Out of 242 entrepreneurs, 30 per cent reported a lifetime history of depression. While another 29 per cent had to cope with ADHD, and 27 per cent reported their struggle with anxiety.

Despite all this, people still do not talk about mental health enough, especially about the conditions that can occur in workplace. One of the culprits that most people are not aware of is impostor syndrome. First coined in 1978, the impostor syndrome is described as the feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” So, while these people are high achievers, on the other hand they are unreasonably worried of being “found out” and exposed as a fraud. Sound familiar?

While not many people are aware of the syndrome, it turns out more than half of the population suffers from it. The International Journal of Behavioral Science discovered that 70 per cent of us feel this way. In fact, every year 75 per cent of Harvard Business School students felt that they were admitted due to errors in the system. The study further indicated that people who constantly challenge themselves— like entrepreneurs and senior-level professionals— are once again at higher risk due to the constant struggle and demand to growth.

In the long run, impostor syndrome is reported to contribute to increased psychological distress. People with impostor syndrome that remains unchecked are also prone to burn out since they constantly try to compensate for their “supposed incompetence” and are most like to be depressed since they feel undeserving of love and success.

The good news is there are things that we can do to cope not only with impostor syndrome but also with other mental issues. One of the remedies lies within our relationships with people, especially those in our inner circles: friends, family, loved ones and coworkers A part of the 80-year-old Harvard Study of Adult Development confirmed the interesting fact over the course of the study, that our health is significantly influenced by our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships.

Close relationships are what keep people happy throughout their lives. The long-term study indicated that those ties help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, even genes. However, a study by The Mental Health Foundation pointed out that relationships these days have become the forgotten foundation of mental health and wellbeing.

Much like the Harvard Study’s finding, Krishnan Menon, CEO of Fabelio believes that good relationships are the core of his balance. “I think if you build and maintain a lot of good relationships, it can lead to real happiness – and it has to be the definition of success,” Krishnan told us during the interview.

Along the process of writing Insider’s Guide to Jakarta Startups, we discovered that the connection with friends, family and loved ones are the anchor that keeps the work-life balance of our interviewees’ intact. If an entrepreneur did not come from a well-functioning family structure, chances are they will do their best to build a well-structured organisation for their business to call ‘family’. Best cases within the many success stories are that the entrepreneurs have strong relationship with their parents. Whether that their decision of being an entrepreneur is challenged, supported, or thought as a temporary journey, it is important that parents secure a key, motivational role in their children’s journey of entrepreneurship.