The Unspoken Darkside to Entrepreneurship

Updated on August 26, 2023

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” – Aristotle

Entrepreneurship is often thought of as a type of business venture, but at its core, it is a way of thinking and acting that goes beyond the traditional business model. Entrepreneurs are individuals who have a unique and innovative approach to solving problems and creating new opportunities. They possess an entrepreneurial mindset, which is defined as a set of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that enable them to identify and pursue opportunities that others may not see.

At the heart of an entrepreneur is self-determination, a strong sense of purpose, creativity and the ability to take risks. They are individuals who are comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity, and have the courage to pursue their ideas in the face of adversity. This requires a high level of self-confidence and a belief in one’s own abilities, as well as an ability to learn from mistakes and failures. It also requires an openness to new ideas and a willingness to embrace change. Entrepreneurs are often driven by a desire to make a positive difference in the world, to create something of value, and to leave a lasting legacy. This sense of purpose gives them the energy and motivation to overcome obstacles and persevere in the face of challenges. 

All of these psychological components that make up an entrepreneur can create a world-changing impact but they can also lead to many mental health challenges. Many entrepreneurs are not resourced with the tools or knowledge to understand the importance of the effects of mental health on the entrepreneur journey. 

Genius in Madness 

Mental health is easily one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to the success of entrepreneurs. A study out of UC Berkeley says a whopping 72% of entrepreneurs have some kind of mental-health issue. Of the entrepreneurs they studied, 30% had a history of depression, 19% had ADHD, 12% had substance abuse issues, and 11% reported having bipolar disorder. The culture of entrepreneurship celebrates working 24/7 to demonstrate passion and dedication for your business and a founder’s identity is often tied to the success of their startups. This can often cause periods of isolation leading to loneliness, depression and anxiety and begs the question: does madness lurk where creativity lies? 

The dark side of creativity can be a double edge sword. Entrepreneurs are chalk full of creativity, it’s what fuels them and leads to some of the world’s greatest solutions. But, they often experience a wide range of emotions, from excitement and enthusiasm (that drives them) to fear and anxiety (that cripples them). And yet the lows of depression might give way to smart solutions and ideas. A manic episode can sometimes bring enlightenment and ADHD can aid and prompt fast decision-making. Combined, these challenges may incubate tremendous creativity that inspires would-be entrepreneurs, but at what cost? 

Method to Madness

Entrepreneurship is a challenging and demanding venture that requires significant dedication, hard work, and resilience. They often have to deal with stress, uncertainty, and constant pressure to succeed. Therefore, prioritizing mental health is crucial for entrepreneurs to maintain a healthy work-life balance, improve productivity, and prevent burnout.

Learning to manage these emotions effectively is essential for success and the avoidance of burnout in the entrepreneurial world. This requires developing emotional intelligence, which involves self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills. Taking the time to prioritize mental health can be the game changer to sustainable success. To prioritize mental health, entrepreneurs should: 

Take breaks: Entrepreneurs tend to work long hours and neglect self-care.Taking brief walks, practicing mindfulness, meditating, or engaging in hobbies can be effective stress management strategies.

Seek support: Isolation is a common problem among entrepreneurs, and it can lead to anxiety and depression. Building a supportive network of friends, mentors, family, colleagues, or joining a community group can help entrepreneurs feel connected, supported, and inspired.

Balance work and personal life: Entrepreneurs tend to blur the boundaries between work and personal life. However, setting clear boundaries and prioritizing time for family, friends, and personal interests can balance the work-life equation.

Prioritize physical health: Exercise, good nutrition, and sleep are critical for optimal mental health. Regular exercise releases endorphins, reducing stress and anxiety. 

Seek professional help: If an entrepreneur experiences lasting feelings of anxiety, depression, or chronic stress, they should seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide therapy, counseling, medication, or other interventions to assist those struggling with mental health challenges.

Successful entrepreneurs possess a unique combination of risk-taking, creativity, independence, self-determination, purpose, and resilience, as well as strong emotional intelligence and a growth mindset. By cultivating these skills and attitudes, aspiring entrepreneurs can increase their chances of success and achieve their goals in the entrepreneurial world. By taking care of their mental and physical health, entrepreneurs can achieve success while also enjoying a fulfilling personal life.

Justin Bayless
Justin Bayless

Justin Bayless is a minority entrepreneur who got started at a young age working in his family’s business, Bayless Integrated Healthcare. After 14 years of being CEO of Bayless Integrated Healthcare and leading his company to three successive years on the Inc 5000 list, he successfully exited to a Fortune 24. He then went on to start Ten Figures, a culturally competent, management consulting and venture capital firm that supports the development of BIPOC and/or women entrepreneurs. Justin believes there is untapped potential in underrepresented communities in which he and his team seek entrepreneurs who can utilize the team’s expertise, guidance, and resources to sustainably grow their company and impact their community.