The 5 Hidden Costs of Becoming an Entrepreneur
There are many costs to being an entrepreneur, and some of them are hidden costs.
The SBA estimates the average cost of starting a business to be around $30,000. No matter what type of business you start, you’ll need to invest hours in its creation and development.
These costs alone are enough to intimidate prospective entrepreneurs from ever following through on their ideas. However, they don’t paint the entire picture of entrepreneurship. There are also hidden costs to being the founder and director of your own enterprise. You’ll need to be prepared for them as well.
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The Hidden Costs of Entrepreneurship
In addition to investing time and money, you also need to prepare yourself for these hidden costs:
Stress is more than just a temporary feeling of anxiety or frustration. Experiencing stress chronically can result in the development of several physical and mental symptoms, none of which are good for you. Entrepreneurs are frequently the key decision makers of their respective businesses. They work long hours, they face tough challenges, and their future isn’t guaranteed. With little to no time to relieve that stress, entrepreneurs often end up facing bad effects. These can include headaches, fatigue, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, and depression.
2. Sleep Deprivation
Entrepreneurs are also known to develop chronic insomnia, a physical problem with multiple side effects of its own. Some combination of working long hours, staying up late, waking up early, and dealing with significant stress leads entrepreneurs to get far less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. This in turn leads to even more stress. Entrepreneurs might have difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, and even physical symptoms like a greater susceptibility to illness.
3. Relationship Burdens
While you’re working 60-hour weeks and spending your free time brainstorming how to solve problems in your business, you won’t have much time for personal relationships. You won’t see your partner as much. Nor will you spend as much time with your kids. To make matters worse, you won’t be as available for social gatherings with friends. This can make your personal relationships suffer, and quickly. The problem gets even worse when the other “hidden costs” of entrepreneurship start to set in, and you realize your support system is no longer available.
Loneliness is more common among entrepreneurs than you might expect. As the leader of your organization, you won’t be able to relate to your team on a personal level. You won’t be able to share your fears or worries with them or your business partners. You’ll be working long hours, away from the people and things you love. There won’t be many people who can relate to your plight. Accordingly, most entrepreneurs experience at least some loneliness. For many, that loneliness can lead to apathy and depression.
Even if you start your business feeling passionate and energetic about your work, there’s a risk you could eventually burn out. Working long hours on anything, even something you genuinely love, can lead to resentment and boredom after enough time has passed. You may wake up dreading the idea of going to work. Perhaps you’ll become frustrated with a lack of progress, or become irritable with any and all obstacles to your success. Eventually, that frustration could force you to leave prematurely or fall into a deep, consuming depression.
How to Mitigate Hidden Costs
You may not be able to reduce your operational costs or your startup costs beyond a certain point. However, the hidden costs of entrepreneurship can almost always be controlled—as long as you’re aware of them and prioritize their management.
Use these strategies to prevent them from taking over your mind and life:
Make Time for Yourself
No matter how busy you are, you need to make time for yourself. Set aside time every day to meditate, exercise, or engage in some of your favorite hobbies. It’s the best way to get rid of stress, and will help you stay true to yourself during the course of your entrepreneurship.
Prioritize Your Relationships
You also need to prioritize your relationships over your work schedule. Make sure you stay in contact and close to the people you love—even if it means working fewer hours or taking longer to reach your business goals.
Recognize the Signs of Stress Proactively
Finally, learn to spot the signs of sleep deprivation, stress, loneliness, and depression as they develop—rather than only reacting to the most extreme symptoms. Try to intervene before it’s too late.
Entrepreneurship is an enriching journey, despite the mental and emotional costs often associated with it. Be prepared for the potential extent of these burdens. That way, you can take the proactive measures necessary to reduce them, or get through them while still working to make your business a success.
Talk to other entrepreneurs who have already been through the process to understand these potential costs in more detail. Then come up with a proactive strategy for how you’re going to handle them in your own life—before you start a business.