Entrepreneurship is a stressful role for anybody. You’ll be in charge of leading people, making decisions, and determining the fate of your business with your actions — and to top it all off, you probably have a significant chunk of your personal savings invested into the project. All those little stressful situations you ran into as an employee seem far less important when you’re in charge of your own business, and at the same time, your perspectives on what constitutes a “challenge” or a “concern” will shift.
These 10 situations stress out entrepreneurs more than anything else:
1. Access to capital. Capital is what keeps the business going — even if the business is profitable on paper, you still need enough cash flow to pay your workers and pay your bills. Staying on top of this cash flow and getting capital from loans, lines of credit, or investors is one of the top concerns — and top stresses of being an entrepreneur.
2. Pending promises. Entrepreneurs serve as the face of their respective companies. If they lie, cheat, or steal, the reputation of the entire company can be compromised. Even minor offenses, like unintentionally broken promises, can cause damage to the brand. Whenever an entrepreneur makes a promise — whether it’s to meet a deadline or achieve certain success metrics for a client or make a new hire for an overworked employee, that promise becomes a source of stress until it’s fulfilled.
3. Being the bottleneck. Similarly, when your team is waiting for you to make a decision, approve a deliverable, or complete some other task before they can move forward with their responsibilities, the pressure rises rapidly until those duties are fulfilled. With so many responsibilities adding up, entrepreneurs start to feel like a bottleneck, which causes crippling stress.
4. Making decisions. Over time, entrepreneurs get better about making decisions confidently. However, decision fatigue is a real phenomenon, and can negatively interfere with your mental health. If sustained, even small decisions can fill you with stress — even if you make them quickly and logically.
5. Staying strong as a leader. As the leader of your organization, it’s your job to remain calm, positive, and contained, even when your company is in crisis mode. Otherwise, others will get stressed and might perform less than optimally. Keeping up your “leader” persona is hard and stressful work, but it must be done to protect the interests of the group.
6. Commitments. There isn’t enough time in the day for an entrepreneur — the people you need to meet with, research you need to do, events you need to attend, and tasks you need to complete can easily pile up. Even if you love the work you do, when your schedule is so packed there’s barely time to think, your stress levels will begin to skyrocket.
7. Clients. The best way to sustain a business is to have multiple reliable streams of revenue from multiple sources. Unfortunately in the early days of a business, most of your revenue might be tied up in one business (or partnership). If that’s the case, maintaining the relationship with that one client becomes an entrepreneur’s top priority (and accordingly, a top source of stress). On the other hand, if you have many clients, at least one is bound to be a headache — the one that keeps your mind occupied when you’re trying to enjoy a relaxing family dinner because of a nasty email or voicemail you received from them right before you left the office for the day, and this is the 3rd time this has happened in the last month. Every entrepreneur knows this feeling, eventually.
8. Nailing a presentation. Presentations hold many opportunities. You’ll be speaking at an event, so you’ll get name and brand exposure, and your presentation itself could impress dozens of important people, potentially bringing tons of new business to your company. With the risk of failure threatening to compromise your reputation instead of improving it, upcoming presentations are a major stress for entrepreneurs.
9. Retaining great talent. Most entrepreneurs realize that your team can make or break your business. If you have hired talent that you like, trust, and appreciate (on top of getting all their work done on time), one of your top stresses becomes doing what it takes to retain them on your team. Small businesses don’t tolerate departures well, and even one could trigger a cascade that could disrupt the entire operation.
10. The unknown. No matter how much research you do or how much experience you have, there are countless unknown variables and unknowable situations that can (and will) affect your business over the years. Facing this great unknown is potentially the greatest stress of all. You never know when a new competitor, a new technology, or some random event could change everything.
If you’re entering the world of entrepreneurship for the first time, keep an eye out for these stressful situations and try not to let them get to you. Know in advance what’s liable to shake you, and take precautions to keep your stress levels in check — regular exercise, meditation, and time away from the office (via breaks and vacation days) can all help you better manage the stresses of everyday entrepreneurial life.