What are the causes of stress for Entrepreneurs? What are the strategies for coping with Entrepreneurial stress?
“Manage your entrepreneurial stress well so that it doesn’t manage you later”
Leaders are not born but made. They can be the strongest or weakest link to any organization. Healthy and inspired leadership brings in a productive, motivated, and high-performing team. For jobs that require initiative and creativity, a focus on reward and punishment approaches produces not only the best from employees but also, can do harm as well. One of the toughest challenges for any leader is to find the right balance between exercising managerial control and delegating authority to their senior managers, which is the key to generating sustainable growth as well as empowering employees.
Being aware of your stress level is crucial to managing and mitigating its negative effects. Competition is one of the common factors that contribute to anxiety and stress for most entrepreneurs. When the work expectations exceed their ability to perform, they are likely to experience stress. Running a business requires a huge commitment of time and energy, as well as sacrificing family time and other leisure pursuits.
The main source of Entrepreneurial stress is due to role ambiguity, role conflict, and role overload. The occurrence of role ambiguity is the result of how effectively entrepreneurs can define and conceptualize their role as venture initiators. Role conflict occurs as a result of simultaneous demand for attention for two or more roles at work, and also, due to demand for simultaneous employee and family attention, which can contribute to increasing stress levels. The overlapping demand such as negotiator, money manager, dispute settler, etc could lead to role overload.
Responsibility pressure comes from having to take some risky decisions wherein the outcome could have a significant impact on the overall health of the business which can lead to a high level of stress. Apart from stress arising from role ambiguity, role conflict, and role overload entrepreneurs face additional financial, social, and psychological uncertainties and risks that can lead to anxiety and stress. Therefore, the support provided by family members, friends, peers, and co-workers negates the ubiquitous and negative effects of stressful situations and promotes their physical and emotional well-being.
The ability to discharge work tension after office hours can greatly reduce stress levels and report fewer health issues. Also, entrepreneurs can reduce the burden and pressure on the decision-making process by carrying out a wide range of consultations with all concerned parties before arriving at a final decision. Also, due to the constant work pressure, entrepreneurs do not handle their health issues until it is too late which should be avoided. Regular exercise, prayer and meditation, and several other lifestyle changes like walking, hitting the gym, swimming, taking part in sports activities, etc can help reduce the deleterious effect of stress. Therefore, confronting the source of stress has been found to be effective in coping with entrepreneurial stress.
Some of the physical symptoms of stress which are controllable are as follows:
- a) Increased Heart Rate and Hyperventilation (ie., breathing heavily)
- b) Sweating
- c) Fatigue, Dizziness, and Nausea
- d) Insomnia (ie., sleep disorders)
- e) Gastrointestinal problems
- f) Constipation and Diarrhea
- g) Indigestion or Heartburn
- h) Muscle aches and Headaches
How can stress affect an entrepreneur?
- a) Difficult to concentrate
- b) Decision-making becomes difficult
- c) Unable to remember things
- d) Loss of appetite
- e) Develop a habit of uncontrolled smoking, Drugs, and drinking alcohol
- f) Avoidance Behaviors ie., withdrawing from people around you
Here are a few stress management strategies that will enable you to cop with entrepreneurial stress and keep burnout at bay:
- Identify the source of stress: Identify whether your stress is caused by procrastinating and missing project deadlines, handling tough competition in the market, taking some risky business decisions, etc. Are your attitudes and habits adding to your stress levels? Once you have identified the source, you need to figure out a remedy to overcome this stress. Take a short break from work and reinvigorate yourself.
- Recognize the symptoms of body stress and take necessary action to control it: It is important to recognize the signals related to stress such as sweating and increased heart beat etc, and deal with the cause of stress right away, by doing some deep breathing exercises, taking a stroll, doing some light stretching exercises for good blood circulation, or taking a short break from work. This will provide some relief caused by the physical effects of stress.
- Do some regular physical exercises like walking or jogging, swimming, gym, yoga, and meditation: Doing some rigorous exercise like getting some high-intensity cardio, or even taking a brisk stroll, hitting the gym, etc., at least five times a week can help keep yourself fit and can reduce the level of stress to a great extent. Physical exercise has proven to be a great stress reliever and also helps in improving your overall quality of life. Studies have shown that exercising daily can reduce negative emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety, and stress. Pick up some physical activities you enjoy doing so that you can do them on a daily basis, like spending some time with your pet and taking it for a walk. There are also many guided meditations available that can help you spend 30 minutes of centered relaxation. Deep Breathing is another great way to reduce the activation of the sympathetic nervous system that controls the body’s response to perceived threats.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle and work/life balance: Healthy eating habit is very essential to manage stress. Develop a good eating habit that includes more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Avoid junk food because it is an active producer of stress. When your body is healthy, your mind can also be healthy. Ensure that you get a good 6 to 8 hours of sleep. The use of Laptops and smartphones before going to bed decreases melatonin (ie., a hormone produced by the body to regulate sleep), affecting your sleep. So switch them off at least two hours before going to bed. Maintaining proper nutrition allows you to better combat stress. Being an entrepreneur would mean sacrificing your personal life for the sake of the business. You will be spending less time with your family, eating habits are affected since you are working for long hours with minimal breaks, getting few hours of sleep every night, etc will become the norm. Hence, taking part in other activities outside the working environment like sports, family events, hobbies, vacations, etc can help to reduce stress to a great extent.
- Spend your spare time socializing: Humans are social beings. You can vent about a problem or an issue in hand on social media or some common meeting place and discussion forums and get valuable feedback from people who are working on a similar domain. Entrepreneurs need to network with people in the same industry to find solutions to deal with challenges that can help build strong resilience. Engaging in shared activity allows you to find support and foster relationships that can be supportive in difficult times.
- Delegate authority: Rather than micro-managing things, delegating responsibility to senior managers can reduce the overloaded burden of the entrepreneur. Sharing the workload among the team can reduce stress to a great extent. Sometimes entrepreneurs find it difficult to relinquish responsibility to their team because of the lack of trust which is understandable but it can contribute to your stress level.
- Organize your time: Some people feel stressed because they have a lot of things to manage in a limited time. In this case, changing the way you allocate your time by prioritizing your tasks in hand will make you feel more in control of things. viz., make a to-do list, set smaller and achievable targets, try not to do too much stuff at once, have breaks at regular intervals, seek help from others if required, etc.
It is not only the threats to business survival that causes anxiety and stress, but also a range of personal and professional goals viz., executing the plans, managing the competition, financial investments, dealing with stakeholders, etc. Entrepreneurship is a stressful job and involves taking a huge amount of risk. You will have to suffer in the short term if you want to build long-term prosperity for your business. As the leader of your business, you are the one who will have the final word in the entire decision-making process, and the one who is affected the most by the outcomes of those decisions. Therefore, minimizing stress and staying productive can help you stay afloat, and enable longevity of your career no matter the industry you are involved in, and propel your business to success.
Entrepreneurial stress is something that you have to face and overcome. Only that can make you a successful entrepreneur. Follow Edujournal for more tips