Opinion

Stressed entrepreneurs

Harsh Mariwala | Updated on October 13, 2021

Many of them are facing mental health issues

The journey of entrepreneurs is a lonely and challenging one. While organisations look up to them for support and guidance, there is rarely anyone the entrepreneurs can turn to for support. Ensuring employee satisfaction while simultaneously also managing the cash flow, strategising the growth plan and safeguarding the brand name, can take a toll on them especially when they are managing small/medium enterprises.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought in a new normal that comes with its own set of challenges. Entrepreneurs across the world have had to take a massive hit due to the pandemic as they found themselves grappling not only with the newer complications but also with the older issues that were amplified in the wake of the pandemic.

A question of survival

Almost overnight, the challenges shifted from concerns around business growth and expansion to business survival.

Managing incomes, profits and the workforce, coupled with a persisting fear of failure, were identified as the top stress factors for an entrepreneur, by a recent study (conducted by ASCENT Foundation and Mariwala Health Initiative).

The halting of business activities due to the pandemic induced lockdowns, the work-from-home environment for the employees and reduced capital and investments, created a situation where a number of SMEs and businesses had to shut shop. All this was over and above the stress of working from home and the fear of contracting Covid that others were experiencing.

This in-turn had a huge impact on the mental health of the entrepreneurs, who are grappling with it even after economic activities have resumed. This has made conversations around the mental well-being of entrepreneurs the most important in a post-Covid world, given how SMEs and entrepreneurs form the backbone of any economy.

To this end, the organisational focus on employee mental health and well-being has been remarkable. There has also been a perceptible surge in discussions around the topic. These, however, did not focus on the stress and anxieties that the entrepreneurs and small-business owners had to go through.

The paradigm shift in work cultures, brought in the form of work-from-home, has taken a toll on both employees and entrepreneurs. The boundaries between personal and professional lives have blurred, creating a general feeling of disillusionment.

During all this, a lack of awareness on how and from where to seek support became a fundamental issue for most of us. While we have a prescribed doctor for all our physical health challenges, there remains minimum awareness on dealing with a mental health crisis.

Entrepreneurs are expected to be self-driven, action-oriented, successful and hence the stress they experience is very different from that of anyone else. There is a need to create spaces where entrepreneurs can talk about their mental well-being and get support from peers. Of course, each entrepreneur may use different coping strategies like fitness, creativity, mindfulness, etc., to enhance their well-being.

Identifying and acknowledging a mental health issue is the most difficult step for entrepreneurs/owners. It is important to create awareness on the matter and initiate discussions around it with, among others, family members, peers and investor.

The writer is Founder and Chairman, Marico

Published on October 13, 2021

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