By The Stack World
ccording to Forbes, 72 per cent of entrepreneurs stated they suffered from mental health problems, and 77 per cent said that running a business had negatively affected their mental health – this is nearly three times the average prevalence of mental health issues when in comparison to the rest of the population.
That’s why, finding a community of like-minded founders and paying close attention to work-life balance is vital to any founder's sustained success, especially when considering that for women, the presence of burnout and high-stress levels are more common in comparison to their male counterparts.
But how do you find your circle and what can you do to safeguard your mental health? Be it joining our Founders Meet-Up Club, forming your own, or taking on board some simple lifestyle checks we’re on hand to help.
Where to go...
"Don’t just climb the ladder of success – a ladder that leads, after all, to higher and higher levels of stress and burnout – but chart a new path to success" - Arianna Huffington Co-Founder of Huffington Post
Quarterly dinners: Take a leaf out of last week’s Superconnector and plan a quarterly dinner party. As a founder, there's no doubt your calendar is constantly looking busy… but setting a date in stone four times a year at least with a circle of like-minded owners can be the perfect reset ahead of the next quarter. Use this as a time to yes, unwind, but as a forum to get those questions answered that non-founder friends in your life might not necessarily understand. Being a founder can often feel like a lonely journey, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Go for walks: The average person in the UK spends fewer than 2 hours outside during an average working day, that’s less than 5 per cent of your time. The benefits of going out for a walk are well understood, from boosting serotonin levels, increasing blood flow and circulation to relaxing your nervous system – getting outside is vital. As we get into the swing of February make getting outside a priority. Sitting in the same spot all day might feel productive but it can often be the opposite. We have a few tips: the first is a lunchtime walk, remember the recommended amount of time for a lunch break is an hour and taking this time away can actually help you make those all-important executive decisions. Another of our favourite tips is suggesting a walking meeting with clients, collaborators, or members of your team. Get out of your workspace and take that meeting on the move. It can really get the creativity flowing and is a great way to make an all-important meeting memorable for everyone involved.
Remember to include 1:1 time: Though finding your support community is vital, it is also key to factor in all important 1:1 time. This is focus time and creates an environment of concentrated and mutual attention. Do this with your mentor or identify a fellow founder who is at the same stage of their business journey as you. If you are at the same stage you can bounce ideas off of each other and also help one another tackle stresses as you will inherently understand what each other is going through. Try a setting that is removed from corporate influences, like a walk around a permanent collection in a gallery you love, you’d be surprised how much you can work through sitting on a bench surrounded by artwork…
Who to invite...
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weaknesses." - Berne Brown
Finding your circle may feel difficult if you have been going at it alone for a while, but there are a few ways to find your founder forum.
Firstly, go through your contact book, the inevitability is by being a founder yourself you have met others embarking on their business journeys. Create a WhatsApp group or drop them a message to ask if they would be keen to get together to discuss life as a founder. Most people will be incredibly receptive to this reach out and help make the first move on ensuring women business leaders aren't always going at it alone.
Another way to discover new connections is to use the search function in your Stack World App or on your desktop, if you head to connect you will be able to identify a whole range of women in business at differing levels and experience as well as industries. Again reach out, or try opting for checking out who is attending an upcoming event you/re going to by clicking "who's going" whilst RSVPing, this way you could ask to meet up before or after and start building those all-important connections.
What to discuss...
"If you have the knowledge, let others light their candles in it." Margaret Fuller
New Methods, led by Sharmadean Reid, is your weekly installment of part philosophy, and part strategy discussions designed to help you step into your power. “Doing the work can be tough,” says Reid adding that by joining the Club, “you’ll be able to connect and network with fellow Stack Members who can be a sounding board and accountability partners.”
Balancing family and work is a key area to discuss amongst other founders, and it often feels like no easy undertaking. In a recent study, nearly half of surveyed entrepreneurs (43 per cent) said that balancing family plans posed a greater challenge than meeting their quarterly goals, whilst 36 per cent said it was more stressful than closing off the year's books. With more women founders than ever feeling at risk of burnout, it is vital to prioritise work-life balances, and planning time for family and friends is instrumental in achieving this. Whether this is something you are struggling with yourself as a founder or a hurdle you have managed to overcome, peer-to-peer discussion in an open forum setting is vital in the work toward better balance.
Sharing insights with those that have been there, or are currently there in their fundraising journey is also a key point of discussion. In the latest data, collected from 200 businesses, Startups UK has revealed that, on average in total funding, a woman-owned business receives £644,000 compared to a staggering £4.34 million going to male-owned organisations. Transparency and increased visibility of the do’s and don'ts of the process can help create a circular economy of insights that can help female founders combat unnecessary stress during this stage of their business journeys.
The same goes for other aspects of running a business, be upfront about your experiences of hiring and managing your teams. If you've spent a long time doing everything yourself, hearing from other founders' approaches to onboarding key hires and managing teams will be a breath of fresh air. This plays into developing a thriving company culture, which can be daunting at first, especially if you have less experience in this area. In a study conducted by Deloitte, it was found that almost half of the prospective employees choose to accept job offers based on the quality of a company's culture, whilst 88 per cent of respondents said that they found it significantly important.
In fact, satisfaction has key impacts on employees, with new data projecting that employees who feel happy in the work environment are 12 per cent more productive than dissatisfied peers.
Get outside: As we mentioned earlier, fresh air and reconnecting with nature are great ways to change your mindset and gain some perspective. Take your next meeting whilst having a walk, or ask the next date in your calendar if they would like to join you on a park walk rather than sitting at a desk.
Prioritise family and friends: In the same way it is important to connect with like-minded people on similar entrepreneurial journeys to you it is also vital that you factor in time with your nearest and dearest. As a founder, you deserve to switch off.
Ask the questions: If you find yourself in a room with a business owner that has navigated a part of your company's journey you are currently struggling with then ask those questions – this could be in person at your next networking event, or alternatively, drop them a line over email, or even write them a note.
Make it quarterly at least: If you have found your inner circle of founders then get some dates on the calendar, monthly or quarterly dinners are ideal, it's a relaxed environment but an open forum to discuss experiences and prevent information from being siloed.
This article comes from our weekly newsletter The Superconnector.
As a Founder, managing a healthy work-life balance can be difficult, and we get it, it can be lonely out there, here are our tips on safeguarding your mental health.
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