Resilience And Revenue: The Interplay Of Mental Health And Small Business Ownership

small business owner mental health

Business ownership necessitates its own type of mental toughness. Choosing to make something new is challenging in its own right, and taking that first step is one that most people will never make. It is an accomplishment, but for many business owners, it is also a source of anxiety. 

There are valid concerns in the world of business ownership. Am I making the right choices? Will I be able to support my family through my business? 

But then there are less logical concerns. Do I belong here at all? Do all of the other business owners understand something that I don’t? 

When anxiety and doubt begin to creep in, it can have a significant impact on your quality of life, and also just your ability to run an effective restaurant. In this article, we examine the connection between business ownership and mental health. 

Imposter Syndrome 

Imposter syndrome is the false belief that you are just pretending to be what everyone else already is. In this case, a legitimate business owner. Imposter syndrome will have you looking up and down Main Street (literally or metaphorically) and thinking “All of these people know what they are doing except for me.” 

Neil Gaiman likes to tell a story about a conference he was invited to years back. The event put a bunch of high-achieving, mostly famous, people in a room to mingle. Eventually, he got talking to a man who shared his first name. 

The other Neil looked out at the crowd with a sigh and said, “I don’t think I belong here. Look at these people. They all built things. I just went where they told me to go.” 

Gaiman was momentarily silenced. He wasn’t so sure that he belonged there. But then the absurdity of what had just been said registered. 

“Well, yes, Neil, that’s true,” Gaiman admitted. “But you were the first man on the moon. That has to count for something.” 

Insecurity is part of life but when it gets to be really bad, it can interfere with your ability to make effective choices. If you are feeling the effects of imposter syndrome on your business, consider speaking with other entrepreneurs in your community. Chances are they will be able to relate to your experience and offer helpful advice. 

It may also help to regularly take stock of what is actually happening in your business. What is going well with you biz? What in your startup company or SMB could use improvement? By regularly inventorying your successes and triumphs in an SME or LLC, you commit to sticking with the facts, instead of getting overwhelmed by your feelings. 

Business Ownership And Stress 

Business owners are often the first and only employee at their business for a significant stretch of time. They aren’t just the founder and CEO. They are also the accountant, the marketer, the head of sales, and—well. You get it. They do everything because they can’t afford to pay other people to do it. 

This often means that they work insane hours, extending well beyond the conventionally accepted 40 a week. Too much work can result in a significant amount of stress— particularly when your new business demands that you spend a lot of time away from your family. 

As the stress accumulates, you may begin to feel physical symptoms as well. This can range from trouble sleeping, to aches, pains, inflammation, headaches, and even heart palpitations. 

Excessive stress is strongly associated with many other harmful health effects, including weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and more. While the new responsibilities of business ownership will always be a challenge, there are ways you can make them more manageable. 

Consider setting rules for yourself. For example, make the decision to always be home for dinner with your family. Whatever choice allows you to reclaim some of your preferred lifestyle. 

It is also important to keep in mind that the early challenges of business ownership are only temporary. While there will be other difficulties down the road, you will (hopefully) have more team members at your side, allowing you to avoid putting all of the stress on yourself. 

Finally, know when to take a break. While it may seem counterintuitive— what good will a break do if it just means even more work when you get back?—a soft reset can be good for your mental health. 


All of these feelings often accumulate into a general sense of anxiety. Anxiety and stress are often used interchangeably but differ slightly in the experiences they create. Stress can be largely conceptual, while anxiety often has overpowering physical symptoms. Panic sets in. Racing heart rate and an inability to focus occurs. 

Basically, stress is a natural survival function— you are acknowledging that something is wrong, and trying to get you ready for it. Anxiety is a longer-term psychological condition that can last for much longer than stress normally would. 

If you begin to experience anxiety, it can have a significant impact not just on your ability to effectively run a business, but also to enjoy an acceptable quality of life. While some people are able to control and manage their anxiety on their own, many decide to seek professional support for their condition. If you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with your feelings of stress and anxiety, seek counseling immediately. 


While we have painted a rather bleak portrait of business ownership, it is important to say that none of this has to be the case. Being an entrepreneur is hard, but self-care can help you navigate the most challenging aspects of this new responsibility. Taking care of yourself can feel like a luxury in the fast-paced world that we live in, but that’s not the case. 

You can’t be a good business owner if you are feeling debilitated by the stress and anxiety of the job. You also just can’t live the life that you and your family deserve. Take care of your business, of course, but not at the expense of taking care of yourself.

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