Image: This Rad Love
Last week my sister forwarded me an email from Circular Board (a weekly round-up of the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women) with some astounding statistics around depression and entrepreneurs. Did you know that 1 out of 3 entrepreneurs suffers from depression and that entrepreneurs are 4 times more likely to suffer from depression than the general population? I didn’t.
But the more I thought about it, the more it made so much sense – being an entrepreneur or small business owner, is freakin’ hard. It can feel isolating, and lonely, it can feel like there’s too much work to be done & the pressure is just too much, and it often feels like everything related to the business falls all on you. And while there’s a lot of joy that comes from being an entrepreneur too, the highs and lows are volatile, unpredictable, and therefore stressful.
Let me say that while I do not consider myself to be depressed, I can understand how a lot of this business could lead to depression. For me, the 3 main areas where I could see depression grow would be: the isolation, the pressure, & the measurement (comparison?) of success.
Isolation | When I started Capitol Romance in 2011, it was just me, my newly created gmail inbox, and a really ugly (free!) WordPress template. My friend Steve (my IT guru, who still keeps this ship afloat), got me set up on all things IT and then … off I went, entirely alone, from behind a computer screen. Fast forward 6 years and this blog is much more than a blog (a full blown business!). I’ve met SO MANY AWESOME people & vendors on this journey and have 3 ah-mazing rockstars working for Capitol Romance Wedding Coordination on #TeamCapRo, but most of the ‘business’ side of things are done primarily by yours truly, still from behind a computer screen. And that can feel rather lonely. I’d even go so far as to say that I think that is really one of the main reasons I keep my day job – because I like going to a place full of people and coworkers each day, working together in person, talking both personally & professionally with coworkers and clients. I am not sure I could do CapRo full time & primarily work alone & from home, I really don’t! I already feel isolated enough!
Pressure | Because I am mostly a one-woman show, I feel a lot of pressure these days. Pressure to my readers, to the vendors that advertise with me, to my clients, and to the women that work for CapRo Coordination. When you run your own business or company, it feels like it’s ALL on you … and well, that’s because it really & mostly is. The advertising, the PR, the marketing, the business, the BOOK-KEEPING, the client satisfaction … it’s all me! And I constantly feel like I am in a never-ending doggy paddle, just trying to keep my head above. Let’s not even talk about the pressure brought in from your personal life – the scheduling of meetings around your family’s schedules, the lack of weekends available due to working weddings. It’s a lot. The highs and the lows of running your own business feel like they are 100% your fault.
Success | I save the best for last. And by best I mean, the hardest. Judging and measuring your own success as an entrepreneur and small business owner is really, really hard and it’s something I majorly struggle with. As I mentioned on the Founders Nextdoor Podcast, I think as an entrepreneur you never fully feel like you’ve succeeded because you are constantly looking for the next goal, the next growth point, the next problem to solve – it’s what makes your mind an entrepreneurial one. From a monetary stand point, I’d say my business is successful: I’ve grown both my revenue and my income each year since 2012, I’ve grown my blog readers from 5 to over 2,000 avg pageviews a day, and I’ve grown the blog into 3 business functions, including having 3 other ’employees’ work for me. However I can almost never escape the feeling of failure when I compare myself to the other businesses I follow online. How come that kick-ass wedding wasn’t submitted to my blog? How come I wasn’t invited to speak on that panel? Man they seem to be crushing it / doing so much better than me. The old “comparison is the thief of joy” amiright? I think for me, I need to stop measuring myself against the social media platform of others and instead set up my own goals & metrics to track my success. Easier said than done though, right?
So yeah, running a business & being an entrepreneur is tough stuff and it’s really easy to see why entrepreneurs are 4 times more likely to be depressed. If this post resonates with you in ANY WAY, than know that you are not alone and there is help. Please do not be ashamed to get the help you may need!
For immediate support visit 7cups.com, a website that provides free 24/7 counseling, and even has a special section for startup employees and founders. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. (*Thanks again to Circular Board for sharing these statistics and resources*).