Stress is an everyday part of entrepreneurial life. It comes with the territory but it doesn’t mean it can’t be managed. While there are many reasons why entrepreneurs experience daily stress, some stressors are more common than others. In this article, we’ve boiled the list down to the top five causes of stress so you can be vigilant and adjust your situation accordingly.

N.B that entrepreneur stress levels are important to monitor throughout the day-to-day running of a business. They carry the power to directly influence an endeavours success. If nothing else, they affect your ability to even enjoy the business you are passionate about. Pinpointing the sources for business owner stress can offer an advantage to stopping it in its tracks. Your stress bucket fills up over time and is at risk of overflowing if the pressure isn’t released in mindful ways.

With this in mind, the main sources of stress for entrepreneurs are:

#1 Multitasking 

The phrase cognitive overload refers to the limits a person’s mind has on taking in new information. Every mind has a limit to the capabilities it has for receiving and handling information. This limit affects even the smartest minds on the planet. No entrepreneur is exempt from this.

This is not often considered in the grand scheme of owning and running a business. The entrepreneurial spirit often encourages the taking on of any new challenges that come along. Often, this happens until owners realize that they are already drowning. It is already too much. 

When projects and opportunities come across your desk, it can seem impossible to turn them down. Especially if there is a time in the not-so-distant past when you had trouble getting any opportunities at all. This fuels business owners to continue accepting as many opportunities as they possibly can. Often, even to the detriment of their business.

That said, multitasking isn’t inherently bad! Most of the things this article will mention don’t carry an intrinsic evil to them. Rather, they are a common reason why entrepreneurs experience daily stress to take note of and monitor. Multitasking isn’t a bad thing but if you find yourself stressed at how many items you are juggling, it’s time to reflect.

Often, upon reflection, entrepreneurs will find that some of their opportunities are more lucrative than others. It may be worth it to focus on those and cut off some of the less helpful options.

#2 The Pressure of Responsibility 

Responsibility comes in many forms for an entrepreneur. To name a few:

  • Financial – Everything from the costs of running a website to end-of-year taxes. Financial responsibility is always around the corner for entrepreneurs.
  • Leadership – As the captain of a ship you built, you are in charge of ensuring that it is seaworthy. Leaders are responsible for providing prompt, reasonable payment to their employees and vendors.
  • Decisions – Business ownership is taking a series of diverging pathways. Each of these routes affects the bottom line of your business. Sometimes, owners may only have moments to choose between options. All decisions have the potential to carry a tremendous amount of financial weight.
  • Strategy – If something isn’t working, it is your job to figure out why that is and how to stop it. A faulty piece of the process can derail a business and cause untold financial problems. Strategizing the best course forward is crucial pressure entrepreneurs have to face.
  • Other Pressures – Almost every element of a business can affect overall financial health. Pressures enter in from every angle when you are running a company. Each industry offers its unique challenges and it’s up to you to determine exactly what pressures are affecting you and your business. 
The main reasons why entrepreneurs experience daily stress – feels like climbing a mountain!
Tough Climb! Why Entrepreneurs Experience Daily Stress

#3 Financial Instability 

Entrepreneurs have to live with an unstable means of income. There are peaks and troughs in the finances of an entrepreneur. It is important to keep a level head throughout all stages of a business but it is often particularly difficult when bills may be on the line.

One of the best ways to combat stress is to plan for it. If you are going into business for yourself, there WILL be times of financial struggle. Every business ebbs and flows. Furthermore, when you’re on the mountain top, plan for the tumble to the valley. Set money aside to handle those difficult times.

As the years pass, the rhythm of these events often reveals itself. When this happens, businesses can plan for these times of lean and establish security.

#4 Lack of Control 

You are only in control of yourself. Often, we try and extend that control to our projects or businesses. This is a mistake. Truthfully, you are never in control of anything more than yourself.

The lack of control in certain outcomes–the ways your employees or vendors will act, price increases, and other factors–can weigh on you emotionally. Learning to navigate these variables and maintain control of yourself is important. While the only thing you can control is yourself, it’s certainly possible to lose control of that as well.

#5 Lack of Support

The worries of your business can often feel like they have to remain only your worries. Entrepreneurs often feel like they shouldn’t burden their spouses, friends, or colleagues with their business woes. When found in this position, it can be easy to feel secluded and like there is no escape from it. 

Finding support–either professionally or through a colleague, spouse, or friend you can trust–is a crucial element to success. One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is the risk of burnout. When an entrepreneur burns out, often their business does as well.

BONUS #6 No Time for Mental Self-Care 

With all the other burdens being faced by entrepreneurs, self-care is often tossed aside in favor of productivity. The fallacy in this logic is that a person currently experiencing a healthy mental state is bound to be more productive than their opposite. Taking the time to care for your mental health needs to be viewed as one of the foundational elements of your business.

Caring for Your Mental Health

So there you have it! The top 5 reasons why entrepreneurs experience daily stress. Now’s the time to practice good mental self-care in a variety of ways. While there are a variety of ways, the main thing they share in common is time. The act of giving time to caring for yourself goes a long way in managing stress. Ways of spending that time on yourself include a myriad of ways, like:

  • Exercise – Besides releasing endorphins, exercise can improve self-esteem and reduce anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
  • Meditation – Whether it’s 5 minutes or 2 hours, meditation is essential to the calming of the mind. When things get hectic, meditation practice helps remind you to return to the breath. As discussed above, the only thing you can control is yourself. Meditation helps bring you back to yourself in times of stress. As such, establishing some form of silent sitting ritual is a crucial element of self-care.
  • Healthy Eating – Many healthy foods can lower blood pressure. With the lowering of your blood pressure comes reduced stress and anxiety. 
  • Priority Management – “No” is not a bad word! Often, stressors are avoidable by the simple refusal to partake in them. This requires a better understanding of yourself and what brings that stress into your life. Once you understand those things, evaluate and remove the ones you can. Some sources are not removable but, for the ones that are, consider doing so. Reprioritise yourself and your mental health above all else.
Charlie Penwarden

Former mental health nurse turned consultant with a critical focus on human behaviour research analysis and the optimisation of mental health management to prevent illness and promote life harmony.