Small Enterprise

Successful business owners also struggle with depression

Increased responsibility strains certain elements of the  business owner’s life and can trigger stress. FOTOSEARCH PHOTO
Increased responsibility strains certain elements of the business owner’s life and can trigger stress. FOTOSEARCH PHOTO 

Last week, we learnt that one third of business owners suffer depression at some point of their business growth. I appreciate the many responses and comments I got on this from readers who have witnessed or experienced this situation.

One interesting thing is that depression does not only plague those with failing or struggling business. I have testimonies of owners of successful business who suffered stress, burnout and depression.

A simple definition of stress — which when prolonged leads to depression— is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

Most people focus only on “adverse” and forget “demanding.” Demand may be very positive.

Both adverse and demanding situations if not well managed over time lead to stress, burnout and depression.

Some of the demands that can lead to stress and eventually depression in a thriving business include: First, cash flow management. A business may be doing extremely well and strain capital.

To a business person, getting enough money to pay bills, seeking loans for expansion and managing various partnerships and stakeholders’ demands are key stressors. One is tempted to over-borrow or expands too fast that the capital requirement dwarfs money coming in.

Secondly, there is demand to keep promises, reputation, brand name and company image. A rapidly growing business attracts all sorts of people including difficult customers, bad employees and sometimes ill-intentioned competitors who might try to sabotage it.

Trying to make things run smoothly in such an environment becomes a nightmare and the business owner lives in a state of perpetual frustration and high tension.

Thirdly, the increased responsibility strains certain elements in the life of the business owner and trigger stress that causes seismic effects in all other core areas.

For example, business growth requires one to make several weighty decisions, meet more people, solve more issues and complete more tasks within limited time.

If one does not balance well, some important goals may not be achieved or be met at the expense of other equally important ones.

One of the simplest ways to avoid business stress is to come up with a realistic business plan that accurately guides you on your enterprise requirements in terms of capital, personnel and other resources so that you can be adequately prepared.