The Paradox of Startup Founder Stress (And What To Do About It)

Written by Sarah Dillon    |    Published: June 21, 2024

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According to a study from Startup Snapshot, 54% of founders are very stressed about the future of their startups. And more than 50% of founders lose sleep since founding their companies—a number that skyrockets in step with the amount of money raised.

We’ve seen this at play in the hundreds of startups we’ve supported at Hiline. Stress plays a significant part in every founder’s startup journey. But in our experience, the founders who are quick to implement strategies that offset typical financial stressors are those who experience less stress overall and faster business growth.

Here’s how they went about it—and how you can do it, too.

Financial Concerns: A Major Stressor for Founders

If you run out of money, your startup is toast. So it’s no wonder, then, that financial concerns are consistently cited as one of the top stressors for startup founders.

In Startup Snapshot’s study, The Untold Toll: The Impact of Stress on the Well-Being of Founders, 72% of founders said that running a startup had an impact on their mental health, with “fear of failure” and “access to funding” both listed as main sources of founder stress.

The report also detailed how the stress of running a startup can have significant implications in other aspects of a founder’s life. For example:

  • Burnout is Common. 37% suffer from anxiety. 36% experience burnout. 10% have panic attacks.
  • Founders Hide Stress. 81% of founders hide their stress, fears and challenges from others, and more than half hide their stress from their own co-founders.
  • Work-Life Balance Suffers. Founders spend 60% less time with spouses, 58% less time with kids, and 73% less time with friends and family, and the average level of loneliness reported is 7.6 out of 10.

 

“Stress and anxiety are toxic for brain chemistry. They lead to bad decision making, poor judgment, breakdowns in relationships, and a negative, self-reinforcing spiral.”

— Yael Benjamin, Founder and CEO, Startup Snapshot

 

Practical Solutions to Mitigate Financial Stress

The following strategies can help founders reclaim their time, improve work-life balance, and reduce the level of stress they deal with on a daily basis.

  • Make Financial Planning a Habit: Remember: if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. Work with your CPA, a CFO, or both, to create detailed financial plans and forecasts to inform your decision making and steer your startup in the right direction.
  • Communicate Openly with Investors: Maintain transparent and regular communication to manage expectations. Schedule regular updates and honest discussions about challenges before they become insurmountable.
  • Build a Supportive Network: Seek mentors, advisors, and founder networks. Only 23% of founders go to a psychologist or coach, highlighting the need for better support systems.
  • Leverage Software and Automation: Leverage technology to streamline operations and improve accuracy. For some ideas, take a look at some of the top-tier software our expert team sets up and manages for customers.
  • Outsource Your Financial Operations: Partner with experts like Hiline to handle financial operations. This can alleviate stress, ensure financial accuracy, and give you more time to focus on core business activities that drive growth.
  • Get Organized Before Busy Season: You don’t want to enter tax season while your startup’s financial operations are a mess. Get organized during the off-season (e.g. summer), and leverage apps, automation, and workflows to clean up and optimize the way your startup manages its financial operations.

Startup Stress Is Inevitable. But It Shouldn’t Be Impossible.

As a founder, it’s crucial to tackle financial stress head-on. With the right strategies and support systems in place, it’s possible to grow a startup without risking your sanity, your personal life, or your physical well-being.

If you need some help with your financial operations, book some time to chat with a Hiline advisor.

With Hiline, you get a dedicated team of experts to handle your financial operations while you stay focused on other important aspects of your business. From accounting, payroll, HR, tax planning and filling, strategic CFO advisory, and more, we’ve got you covered.

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