How to Handle the Stress and Anxiety of Starting a New Business

How can we maximize our mental health when starting a business venture?

Written by Patrick Bailey

How to Handle the Stress and Anxiety of Starting a New Business

01 Starting a business is like hopping on a train towards an unknown destination.

02 Many business owners find themselves feeling a myriad of emotions—excitement, overwhelming passion, and positivity.

03 However, when the storms of small (and big) losses hit, you may find yourself in a position of self-doubt, accompanied with bouts of anxiety and extreme stress.

How stressed are entrepreneurs?

Some people would think that the entrepreneurial journey is a quick way to financial and lifestyle freedom. Little do they know that entrepreneurs can sometimes be more stressed than regular employees! According to the Gallup Wellbeing Index, a whopping 45% of business owners said they are stressed, which was 3 percentage points higher than those who are employed.

There's a saying that goes: Entrepreneurs don't finish when they are tired. They finish when the job is done.

When you are an entrepreneur, you are answerable to the growth and direction of your business. You cannot blame other people for the decisions that you make. You have to create the strategies to generate revenue, while still maintaining the well-balanced operations that go on behind the curtains. This combination of stressors can bring so much anxiety that it is possible for entrepreneurs to experience mental breakdowns, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

Here are some of the specific results of extreme entrepreneur anxiety:


When you constantly think of issues relating to your business and carry them in your thoughts throughout the day, they may follow you even as you sleep. As an entrepreneur, it is important to have restful sleep. Having adequate and peaceful sleep can help you make better decisions, reduce your irritability, and give you enough energy to power through the day. Otherwise, having insomnia or inability to sleep can worsen negative moods and may even be a large factor for depression and degenerative diseases such as stroke or heart disease.


As an entrepreneur, you must expect to have highs and lows in your journey. However, some low points in your business-building may be so deep-down that it's hard for you to compartmentalize your personal thoughts from the worries about your business.

Signs of depression for entrepreneurs may include the desire to constantly isolate oneself from others, lack of motivation to do even the simplest of daily tasks, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you are experiencing these signs, it is best to seek help immediately. 

45% of entrepreneurs reported feeling stressed.

Degenerative health problems

Stress kills! Although it may seem that being stressed appears to be the norm for people who hustle, it shouldn't be for you. Research shows that stress can be attributed to many health problems, such as diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular disease, and neurological issues. 

Business failure

When you can't make proper decisions, can't manage your business properly, and can't even get dressed to show up, guess what happens to your business? It may ultimately fail. Being overwhelmed with stress and anxiety doesn't just hurt your body, it can also hurt your business. This can lead to a vicious cycle of more stress and anxiety, which can even bring greater health and wellness problems.

Given these staggering effects, what are some ways to prevent stress and anxiety as a business owner?

Incorporate physical activity in your schedule

Exercise presents so many benefits, helping reduce stress and improve your overall wellness. People who spend time exercising at least 20 minutes a day for 3-5 times a week are reported to have better moods, stronger immune systems, and a better physique—who wouldn't want that?

When you are a beginner in exercise, it is better to start slow and gradually build your way. Whatever you can put in time for physical activity, do so. It can significantly improve your health and keep away stress hormones even in your busy schedule. 

Delegate tasks when needed

Are you the controlling boss archetype, someone who micromanages everything to the dot? Perhaps this may be the cause of your stress. In order to reduce your anxiety over starting a new business, you need to focus on your strengths and delegate other tasks to people who can do it better. When delegating, ask yourself these three questions:

"What are tasks that only I can do, and no one else?
"What are the tasks that can be given to outsourced workers for a reasonable price?"
"What are tasks that I enjoy and are important to make my business move forward?"

As you think about these questions, you will find yourself categorizing tasks according to which should be your priority, and other activities that can be passed on to others. Nobody succeeded working alone. As you grow your business, you will realize that it takes a community to build an empire.

Make time for yourself

Notice that the term "make" is used and not "find." Making time for yourself means setting aside an actual schedule for it—whether you plan to have a restful nap, a fun and relaxing vacation, or to simply eat out and enjoy life's simple moments—it is not just scraping off the left-over time in your schedule. You should prioritize yourself. Living a fulfilling life is not always about financial success. Sometimes it's all about finding balance in caring for yourself and reaching your goals.

Plan accordingly

Planning in advance can help reduce stress and can help entrepreneurs to meet their goals, as it helps them create structure and organization for their businesses.

Procrastination is a common habit of people who often experience anxiety. This is because the tasks that pile up need to be done within a smaller time frame and closer to the deadline. When entrepreneurs plan ahead, their bodies and minds can anticipate what is to come, therefore reducing the stress that comes with tight schedules and crazy workloads.

Manage your stress, manage your business.

Your mental health and overall wellness should be the utmost priority for you as an entrepreneur. Without it, you can't make sound business choices, which prevents you from reaping the rewards of what you worked hard for. As you consider these simple guidelines, know that as you manage your stress levels, it can outflow to help you manage your business even better.

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