3 of the Darker Sides of Entrepreneurship and How to Handle Them

3 of the Darker Sides of Entrepreneurship and How to Handle Them

There are several prevailing myths about entrepreneurship. The stories about overnight successes can be misleading and cause you to underestimate what it takes to start and maintain a business. In reality, the likelihood that a new company will survive is lower than you might expect. About a quarter of startups fail within the first year, and by the tenth year, more than 70 percent have folded.

Success depends on several factors, from financial planning to managerial experience. The pressure to succeed can cause entrepreneurs to develop numerous unhealthy behaviors, so before launching a business, you should learn about this darker side of entrepreneurship to make sure you are building healthy habits from the very beginning. Some of the common issues that arise for entrepreneurs include:

1. Neglected health

Stress has a wide range of deleterious effects. Unfortunately, they are resounding. In a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 43 percent of Americans report difficulties with sleep as a result of stress, and 45 percent say their stress increases as a result of lack of sleep.

Many Americans will skip healthy, self-focused activities like working out because of stress even though exercise is linked to decreased stress levels. Startup founders face health problems outside of stress. For example, spending a lot of time in the office often results in poor nutrition choices. The American Journal of Epidemiology released a study showing that many health problems among office workers result from a combination of stress, high blood pressure, and poor diet.


Entrepreneurs need to focus on developing healthy habits early in their career. For example, you should try to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Breaks are important for stress management and they have been shown to increase productivity.

Put your health first. After all, poor health can prevent you from managing your business well. Ultimately, taking a couple of hours to socialize, exercise, or cook a healthy meal will not result in the failure of your company. Rather than hurt, breaks help you become a more effective worker and leader.

2. Reduced socialization

Many first-time entrepreneurs report problems with the relationships in their lives as they start to focus on the launch of their business. Some feel like they don’t have the mental capacity to be fully involved in the lives of other people at this crucial point.

As you grow your business, you can end up spending a lot of time at the office and bringing your work home, leaving you with little time for yourself. Even when you try to relax, the phone could ring at any second, so you may feel like you always need to be “on.” Friends and family members may not understand this level of commitment, so you can enter into a cycle of apologies and resentment.

To counter the effect of entrepreneurship on social relationships, you need to focus on bringing the right people into your life. By focusing on a few key relationships and making them as strong as possible, you can ensure you get the support you need.

Those who show you compassion and understanding are worth the investment of whatever little free time you have. These types of people will be there when you need them the most. In turn, you need to learn to reach out for help and support when you feel like you need it. You will feel more comfortable doing this once you trust others to be there for you.

3. Growing self-doubt

Too often, entrepreneurs allow their business to become their defining feature. When you lose your identity to your business, you can start to take failure too personally. A business failure is often linked to several factors, many of which are outside your control, such as overall market performance. The market is fickle and its unpredictable shifts should not speak to your value.


As the numbers mentioned before illustrate, the majority of companies fail, and sometimes, not long after they have launched. When you start taking failures personally, you can lose confidence and start making poor decisions. Luckily, you have several resources to fight this sort of self-doubt.

First, you need to reframe how you think about failure. Rather than seeing failure as a personal shortcoming, you should frame it as a learning opportunity. Taking the time to analyze what went wrong teaches you what to avoid in the future so that you will have a greater chance of success the next time around. Reframing your idea of failure is critical for resiliency, and it ultimately makes you a savvier professional.

Also, you should build a community of like-minded individuals who can provide support and guidance. They can offer advice on how to handle self-doubt and help you realize when you are not being constructive with self-criticism.

About the Author

Joanna RileyJoanna (Jo) Riley is an entrepreneur, investor, and advocate in technology, and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Censia. Jo has a highly experienced background in building and scaling companies, which she attributes to her deep passion for people and building technologies that allow people to be their best selves. She brings her wide knowledge of the industry to better transform the way enterprise companies hire talent. You can connect with Joanna Riley at @joannakiddriley on Twitter or on Linkedin. Read her full bio here.