Why Stress is Bad for Entrepreneurs and What You Can Do About It

Successful entrepreneurs are successful because they deal effectively with stress. People who are less stressed are more likely to succeed in their career and personal goals because they take care of their mind, body, and work routines.

Remember, stress is normal and sometimes necessary to push you to perform better, but chronic stress can damage your health, productivity and business.

Work-related stress

Understanding The Sources of Stress

In a research published in the Journal of Managerial Issues, it was found that the sources of entrepreneurial stress are one or a combination of different factors:

  • Role conflict and ambiguity or the lack of adequate information about your performance evaluation as an entrepreneur and leader of your company.
  • Job versus non-job conflict or the stress and tension arising from consciously attempting to balance personal and business or work matters.
  • Concern for quality or the fiery desire for perfection in the service or product being delivered.
  • Role overload or taking on overwhelmingly numerous responsibilities and tasks all at once, and
  • Responsibility pressure or the weightiness of decision-making, whether your decision is right or wrong, and the burden of realizing that all aspects and facets of your business fall upon your shoulders.

How Stress Hampers Performance

Entrepreneurs were found to have low job satisfaction and high stress levels. When people are under long-term stress, the telling signs and symptoms often disrupt personal life and performance at work which affect overall productivity and his or her business.

Among the multifaceted symptoms of stress, the most common and easiest to identify are physical symptoms. These are seen as altered eating habits, erratic sleep patterns, frequent drinking, increased smoking, digestive problems, muscle tension and elevated blood pressure, etc.

Chronic stress affects the emotions through manifestations of excessive pessimism, depression, low self-esteem, withdrawal, disappointment, loneliness, mood swings, irritability, lack of commitment, increased and sometimes unreasonable sensitivity, etc.

Prolonged stress affects the mental status but take longer to show symptoms. It can be that this is the culmination of combined physical and emotional symptoms resulting to confusion, poor memory, inability or total lack of concentration and a generally lacking sense of engagement.

Business woman going to start a business

Manage Stress Like a Boss

Several strategies could help entrepreneurs reduce stress. Below are 3 of the best ways to rid yourself of excessive stress and handle your stressors effectively.

1. Regular Exercise

Entrepreneurs often neglect their health due to their busy schedule. It is not until they get sick that they start noticing their health status. Regular exercise can reduce the negative health effects of stress through positive impact on your body. You’ll have healthier heart, blood pressure and body weight decreasing your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. It can also boost your immune system so you do not have to take a leave from work due to illness.

Aside from reducing your levels of stress, regular exercise improves your mental strength as well. It can improve your concentration, memory and creativity. It can increase your ability to absorb new information faster and learn new skills easier. A study found that people who go to the gym have better mood, are not easily angered at work and are more productive than the non-gym goers.

Consider group exercise with your work colleagues or close friends. Not only can you enjoy being part of the group, you can also network with old and new people, foster good relationships which are important in achieving work-life balance. Group exercises can give you that sense of belonging and de-stressing with other people who are coping with similar issues and day-to-day worries. Exercise has also proven to be a great tool for team building in budding startups.

2. Reflective Practice and Positive Stress

In a study published in the Journal of Entrepreneurship, Management and Innovation, findings revealed that in the experiences of entrepreneurs, reflective practice and positive stress are intertwined. Positive stress is borne out of the following tools of reflective practice:

  • Studying oneself is knowing what causes your stress and confronting the source of stress sooner than later.
  • Changing one’s point of view is reframing stress. Instead of a ‘to-do list’, make an ‘I’ve-done’ list as a visual reinforcement of your being productive.
  • Putting things into perspective. A good example is setting a clear direction with for you business, identifying strategies, and explicitly outlining the duties and responsibilities of your employees will also ease your stress arising from role conflict or ambiguity.
  • Harnessing a feeling of trust is taking more responsibility for your actions. If you go wrong, own it by not making excuses or blaming others. If your employee made a mistake, coach him or her and work on ways to avoid the same error and improve one’s performance.
  • Regulating resources include beating role overload. Learning to say “no” because saying “yes” to all the opportunities will overwhelm you and disrupt your schedule and exhaust your resources. Streamline and keep your focus by saying “no” to things that do not help your goals.
  • Engaging in dialogue to beat role conflict or ambiguity. Seek the help of your closest family, friends, business contemporaries and mentors.

3. Declutter and Focus

Several strategies can be used in organizing your mind and your workplace so you will have less stress and be able to focus more. Focus on shipping & progress instead of just perfection, because if you are improving as an entrepreneur, you know you are moving towards the right direction. Perfectionism will only burn you out quickly, especially if your limits and goals for your business are unrealistic.

Set up plans and lists of things you want to reach for yourself and your employees. Include with short- and long-term objectives with specific target dates. Always keep the same goal and if anything goes wrong, go back to your lists and identify what went wrong and change it to achieve your goal. Create a concrete plan for achieving your dreams. Focus on reaching it in smaller steps and revisit your goals regularly to ensure you are on the right track.