What are the causes of entrepreneurial stress?

When my heart stopped, that was what I called real stress.



What is causing you entrepreneurial stress?

As an entrepreneur, the following have caused me and others I have worked with or observed excessive pressure over the years.

Here are several things that cause me more stress than I would like. I’ve had two heart attacks and I don’t want any more.


Moving from entrepreneur to manager

One of the big lessons I learned the hard way was how difficult it was to move from entrepreneur to managing. Often I became involved with a new business or new project, that people were struggling with. No sooner were things running well when difficulties started to  occur, for me:

  • I often found myself becoming bogged down in administrative tasks and unable to spend the necessary time to keep the business or project moving forward. Whilst I could handle the administrative tasks of the day-to-day operations, I always became uneasy.I knew there was more to be done in consolidating the future and competitors would creep in if I didn’t stay ahead of the game. The truth is, I become bored doing the same tasks over and over, I like to do what entrepreneurs do best.
  • As the business or project started to come alive, attitudes would change and I had another battle on my hands. Suddenly everyone knew more than me about what needed to happen despite the fact they had not been able to get things going by themselves, often after years of trying.People start to believe they had solved the problems and would question my decisions as well as seeking the credit and limelight. The result was disruption to the programs I had developed and it would kill my entrepreneurial spirit.
  • I have spent a lot of time empowering people, only to have the relationship fall apart as their confidence grows. I have even guaranteed people’s bank accounts only to have their egos get in the way as they emerged from the mire. It makes you question whether people want your entrepreneurial skill in the first place. If you don’t want to go through a torturous time be very careful about the projects you take on and the people you get involved with, irrespective of how much they might beg you to get involved as their motives may be selfish. When people let you down stress emerges, but only when you let it.

At the nub of a project failure rates. As soon as things are stable, people suddenly believe they know what they have to do to obtain a successful conclusion, what they fail to realise is, the entrepreneur’s job is not complete and doesn’t give them clear air in which to finish the job, everyone has a role to play.

Unless you have the luxury of a lot of time and a pot of money behind you, the entrepreneur often needs to be chief cook and bottle washer, becoming skilled at everything.

In the early days of a project, you may not have the luxury of outsourcing, so you must be very careful when it comes to time management. There are not enough hours in an entrepreneur’s day and an 80 hour week to me, was quite normal. I worked when the work was there to be done, not according to the clock and I found that that entrepreneurial stress built up without a normal routine.


I find it very stressful when values aren’t congruent

Often I find myself working with people with conflicting values, This is one of the subtle things that cause stress bit-by-bit until there is finally a breakdown in relationships.

Some people are very clever, or cunning when it comes to hiding their true values. They quickly learn your values so they can mirror them and then they go about undermining them to try and suit their needs.

It is difficult to know what a person’s true values are until you have worked with them for some time. Even then you may never be too sure and the stress will continue until you part company. The thing is people’s real values don’t change much and in almost all cases you will not have any impact on them in the time frame you want.

If you want to avoid stress part company as soon as you feel that values are not congruent.


Stress comes when a person’s actions don’t match their words

Everybody deserves somebody who helps them to look forward to tomorrow, but alas some of the people you choose can’t deliver the help they promised. Those who are inconsistent, where their actions don’t match their rhetoric, are not only very time consuming but very stressful and frustrating.  True relationships will reveal their dependability over time and are the ones to hang on to.

It is sometimes hard to severe a relationship and let it go, but as my father-in-law used to say “it’s better to have an empty house than a bad tenant”.  Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do, although this can be difficult if they are remote to you.


“Why worry? If you have done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better”. Walt Disney


I have often been caught by people who exaggerate their skills and abilities. You draw up your plans and the budget based on their reassuring words, only to find months later they have all the excuses in the world for their non-performance. This his is particularly so with younger people and people in the sales and marketing area.

Your experience and research tell you they will sell 20, they say they will sell 100 and they deliver 5  and still expect to be paid what you agreed. I have often had to step into the sales role to save a situation which is not the best use of my time and at a minutes’ notice can be very stressful for you until you have control of the new situation.


Broken trust is not only hurtful but can cause a lot of stress

It is often said love means giving someone the chance to upset you while trusting they won’t. Unnecessary pressure has often been my reward for trusting someone, however, I either get a new friend for life or learn another important lesson.

At the end of the day, you discover more about the good guys and bad guys as well as receiving real enjoyment from those who will totally surprise you.

I try to live with the knowledge that whilst nice people often finish last, they’re more likely to finish feeling good, which is sometimes hard to come to terms with, but at least I sleep well.


Negative people and negative situations

Entrepreneurs by nature are nearly always positive and optimistic, no matter how bad a situation might be. If they do become negative because of the severity of the situation, you can be sure they won’t stay that way for long.

I now find it easy to let go of negative people and avoid negative situations as they are the destroyers of my creativity and innovation and they are to be avoided at all costs. I don’t need the pressure they cause and I will not tolerate it. As there are more positive and enjoyable people around, you don’t have to put up with the stress.

Negative people can be a problem in a conversation when you are trying to get something off the ground, “I can’t see it working”, where will you get the money”. They can also kill of deals and cause pressure because you have to clean up after they have done the damage whilst thinking they have done nothing wrong.

They have a way of spinning things in a negative direction because they are often small-time thinkers and very naive, with no concept of the stress they cause you. I have tried countless times to help negative people and as a consequence, I have had a very high failure rate. I always found it not only stressful but very draining being around them.


Being overlooked, emotional pain is stress

When you give your best efforts and you’re ignored it can be heartbreaking. Particularly when a person continues on with their life not acknowledging what you have done for them. It is hard to accept the fact they didn’t respect you, or what you did for them, in the same way, you respected and cared about them.


“Sometimes in the thick of life, when my call list is longer than the day and people are lined up waiting for meeting after meeting, I just stop. I still myself. And look at a tree. A flower. The sun’s light reflecting off the window. And I remember love is available. I inhale it, exhale, and get back to work”. Oprah Winfrey


There comes a point when you have to let go and move on otherwise stress will eat away at you.  You think it’s too hard to let go until you actually do,  then you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll find a way to put you there.


Sacrificing your situation and success

I believe life is about caring and sharing with others. I have no trouble helping anyone, but if they treat you like a bank, making withdrawals and not making any deposits, you start to feel the pressure and your reserves will not be there to do what you need to do.

It’s better to avoid people who persistently require you to make a sacrifice. Those who expect you to put up all the cash, manage the show, take all the risk and still give them an equal share of the accolades and the money.

Often people who complain are crying out for help. They may not be conscious of it and their comments may come across as complaints rather than requests. There are many people needing help but don’t like to ask for it, or are too scared. Don’t confuse these people with the ‘bloodsuckers’, always keep in mind if you don’t look after yourself and your stress first, you will not be able to help others.

Some people have excessive dependency and expect others to do for them what they should be doing for themselves.  There are also many lazy people, who wait for others to perform tasks they agreed to do.


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Personal Experience

The one thing an entrepreneur should never let go of is hope, no matter how much stress is involved.  Remind yourself of your aspirations and keep pushing forward.  If you keep your hopes up, things will come together even though it may not turn out exactly the way you had anticipated.

You will look back on the bad times and how you managed to get through it all. Dreams don’t become reality without hard and smart work, there’s certainly not much luck in it.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Undertaking too many activities may result in none being done well or on time, resulting in missed opportunities. As entrepreneurs, you are always optimistic and take on more and more opportunities and stress.

Like the sun, too little or too much is not good for you. Having too much on the go at any one time can gnaw away at your ability to get things done and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When I stretch myself too thin, I soon feel the pressure, become uncomfortable and find it difficult to take the actions I need to and entrepreneurial stress sets in.

Entrepreneurs tend to blame themselves for even the slightest problem.  This is something I have never been able to stop, however, I have managed to control situations and move on quickly. Some spend time feeling sorry for themselves instead of focusing their efforts on overcoming the problem and working out how to move on.

Wallowing in self-pity and blaming others is something I have learned to avoid. You can expect many ups and downs, so share the ups and learn from the downs and move on. Maintaining a proper perspective is often difficult if people have been sabotaging or undermining you to make themselves look good, but never get into the blame game.

Your time is worth more than money. It can be very frustrating and stressful when you’re devoting much more time to operations rather than entrepreneurial tasks. If you are being funded by others it can be very difficult for them to understand the entrepreneurial tasks you need to perform, particularly if they don’t understand entrepreneurs.

My aim is to encourage you, no matter what your circumstances, never give up, but make every effort to avoid stress and stressful situations.




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