In many ways entrepreneurs have it rough compared with people who choose to work for a company as an employee. Bringing a startup to profitability often entails long work hours, risk, stress and a heavy investment of personal resources--whether emotional, physical or financial. And it's a career path which can be rife with psychological problems. In fact, according to a recent study (PDF), 72 percent of 242 entrepreneurs self-reported mental health concerns, a significantly higher proportion than a comparison group of non-entrepreneurs. The patterns are so strong, serial entrepreneur Jeff Hyman founded a website and consultancy called Startup Therapist to advise founders on leadership, recruiting and how to master the startup mindset. Here's his advice on how entrepreneurs can stave off sadness, anxiety and depression, or what he likes to call "S.A.D.ness."
1. Guard your physical health.
Sleep enough, eat more vegetables and exercise every day. If your physical state is out of control, your startup soon will be.
2. Celebrate small wins.
Buy and ring the proverbial cowbell. On the rough startup road, every small celebration makes a difference.
3. Find a good advisor.
This should be someone you trust unconditionally and can share your deepest fears. He or she must be someone who will give it to you straight.
4. Take a break.
Not a long one, but get away for a few days. If your startup isn't strong enough to withstand a short vacation, you've got far bigger problems.
5. Get a hobby.
Spending time doing non-work, enjoyable activities frees your mind to recharge. You may also gain the mental space for fresh inspiration regarding an intractable problem.
6. Stop obsessing over the competition.
Doing so won't make them go away. Save your mental energy for making your product or service better.
7. Take breaks throughout the day.
Spend 15 minutes meditating somewhere quiet, for example. And be intentional about putting down your devices. You may be surprised how your outlook will shift toward the peaceful end of the emotional spectrum.
You need time to unwind, so don't book evening business dinners after a full day of people-facing activities.
9. Spend some work time alone.
This can be difficult to do considering the ubiquity of the open-office environment. But if Superman can have his Fortress of Solitude, why can't you?
10. Practice and prepare for meetings and difficult one-to-one discussions.
Most people do better when they plan what they're going to say and how they will deliver the message.