Navigating the entrepreneurial landscape as a woman comes with its unique set of challenges. From breaking through gender barriers to balancing professional ambitions with personal responsibilities, the pressure can feel relentless. For too long, the prevailing wisdom has been to push harder. The traditional narrative of entrepreneurial success often revolves around the idea of “hustle” and “grind.” We’re told to work longer hours, sacrifice personal time, and push ourselves to the limit in pursuit of our goals. But is that really the best way to find success?

Starting a business is both bold and common. According to Micro Biz Mag;

  • 753,168 new companies were incorporated in the UK in the tax year ending March 2022 (source)
  • This was around a 7% drop from the 810,316 record in 2020/2021, but that year was still the second highest on record.
  • The 2020/2021 number was a massive 21% up on the previous years number of incorporations (665,495)
  • That’s more than 1 company formation per minute in both of those tax years.

That’s over 1.5 million new start ups in the UK in the last 2 years according the most recent data releases from Government. Of course, not all of them will be turning over anything right now. Not all of them ever will. But it’s an incredibly testament to entrepreneurial spirit to see so many newly started businesses over a time period that came with so much political uncertainty. 65% of adults in the UK want to start their own business.

This is bold because most entrepreneurs know that about 90% of startups fail (Failory), and across all industries, startup failure rates seem to be close to the same.

The Sacrifice Everything for Success approach isn’t sustainable, nor is it conducive to our well-being.

Working alongside young entrepreneurs who’ve experienced burnout before hitting 30 intensifies our dedication to our mission. While we speak of self-care and wellness, there’s still a journey ahead to embed behaviours fostering genuine well-being. The enduring allure of greater financial gains likely persists due to deeply ingrained societal messages emphasising productivity, ambition, and material success. This mindset reinforces the idea that success is primarily measured by external markers such as wealth and status.

Luckily, both scientific findings and anecdotal evidence are increasingly advocating for a holistic business approach. Adopting a more holistic approach to business requires challenging these conventional notions and embracing values such as balance, well-being, and sustainability. This shift demands a reevaluation of priorities and a willingness to prioritise long-term fulfilment over short-term gains. However, the pull of traditional success metrics can be difficult to resist, especially in cultures that prioritise material wealth and achievement.

We can now even comfortably suggest that the traditional grind-it-out mentality may not yield the best results. Instead of pushing harder and longer, entrepreneurs can enhance their performance by focusing on various aspects of their well-being. Just like high-performance athletes don’t train at maximum intensity every single day, founders shouldn’t neglect their mental and physical health in pursuit of their goals.

This shift isn’t just beneficial for founders; it’s in everyone’s best interest. Investors stand to gain from backing entrepreneurs who prioritise their well-being, as healthier founders are likely to make better decisions and lead more resilient companies. And for the wider startup ecosystem in Europe, fostering a culture that values holistic performance can lead to greater innovation, collaboration, and overall success.

Current research by Balderton (surveyed 230 founders, all of whom were either founders or co-founders of Venture Capital backed companies, between May 10-24 2023) reported;

“Founders consider the startup ecosystem to be a high-pressure environment, exacerbated by the current economic climate.

·       89% of founders surveyed felt that the startup ecosystem was a naturally competitive and high pressure environment.

·       82% believe that working long hours is an inevitable part of being an entrepreneur.

·       71% say that entrepreneurs are expected to constantly prioritise working over investing time in their own wellbeing.

However founders know there are diminishing returns from just ‘working harder’

·       83% of founders feel that, past a point, there are diminishing returns from simply putting in more hours.

·       Multiple respondents to the survey reported having become physically and/or mentally ill as a result of sustained stress. Conditions included burnout, depression, anxiety, insomnia, as well as multiple instances of hospitalisation.

Additionally,

·       83% of founders feel that, past a point, there are diminishing returns from simply putting in more hours.

·       64% of founders say constant high pressure in entrepreneur-led companies can have a negative impact on business performance.

·       81% of founders feel that VC investors can help create a culture where entrepreneurs can look after their wellbeing, directly impacting performance and increasing the likelihood of success.”

It’s becoming increasingly clear that prioritising well-being, mental health, coaching, and peer support is essential for optimising performance. Just as high-performance athletes don’t train at maximum intensity every day, women entrepreneurs shouldn’t neglect their holistic health in the pursuit of their goals. And women can lead the way in embracing a holistic view of entrepreneurship. By dedicating time and resources to self-awareness and personal development, women can enhance their performance and achieve sustainable success on their own terms.

Creating a supportive ecosystem for women.

This shift isn’t just about individual empowerment; it’s about creating a more inclusive and supportive ecosystem for women in entrepreneurship. Investors, stakeholders, and the wider start-up community all stand to benefit from backing founders who prioritise their well-being. Which can be hard to do when collaboration feels more like competition. However, when you remember your unique perspectives, skills, and talents, you can be true to your own values and contributions. By fostering a culture that values holistic performance, we can unlock the full potential of women entrepreneurs and drive greater innovation and success in the startup world. Instead of adhering to outdated notions of what it means to be successful, let’s define success on our own terms.

This is a call to lead by example, showing the world that success is not measured by how hard we hustle, but by how authentically we live our lives and uplift those around us.

If this makes your heart sing, I would love to hear from you. If you think this is total pish, I would love to hear from you too. Sign up to our newsletters below to keep in touch.