The mindful entrepreneur is not your usual subject of discussion. However, working closely with leading VCs and their portfolio founders and entrepreneurs in the last year has taught me one thing.
Starting up a new company is one of the most turbulent phases in the life of an entrepreneur.
By venturing into dynamic markets and relying on oneself more than anyone else, entrepreneurs opt for a life of uncertainty. A life of higher highs and lower lows.
A fast-paced and often stressful start-up environment combined with the various demands from different channels and the low average survival rates, all significantly contribute to an entrepreneur’s increasingly fragile mental state.
This is applicable to the entrepreneur in the traditional sense or the freelance skilled professional starting their journey as an independent consultant.
These feelings of stress or instability may be particularly heightened during early stages. initiating the idea, building the team, establishing budgets and processes – the beginning of a real company, can be very stressful. But as well the career to going on your own as independent consultant, building your reputation, engaging with clients, and plugging into platform ecosystems.
So how can an entrepreneur gain greater inner peace. How to increase capacity for fresh, creative thinking and strengthen resilience for whatever comes next?
Mindfulness to the rescue
Mindfulness has proven to help an entrepreneur perform at a faster pace, to enhance awareness and critique of events and to ultimately make better decisions for the business.
Stress and job exhaustion are obviously ever-present experiences in the daily life of an entrepreneur. However, stress does not emerge only from the challenge itself but from the negative perception of this event and how it exceeds your coping capacity.
Mindfulness may therefore lead to an adaptive appraisal of stressful circumstances.
It can help an entrepreneur become aware of, and then rewire, how to interpret and react to unfolding events.
Mindfulness practices have proven to be useful to:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Elevate performance, focus, innovation and start-up success rates.
Mindfulness provides an effective coping mechanism for emotional exhaustion and burnout. As well as a boost to the confidence and self-determination that allows entrepreneurs to thrive.
Beyond the significant amount of studies which show how mindfulness decreases stress, burnout and fear of failure, mindfulness may provide another benefit of particular importance to entrepreneurs. The ability to recognize and evaluate an opportunity.
A paper published in The New England Journal of Entrepreneurship advances the theory that mindfulness boosts various factors that contribute to entrepreneurial opportunity recognition.
Additionally, looking at anecdotal evidence from case-studies, as well as academic literature, not only is mindfulness especially beneficial to entrepreneurs. But the enhanced awareness and empathy it generates can easily encourage social entrepreneurship and impact investing.
Therefore, mindfulness isn’t just for increased calm and focus, but can demonstrably help an entrepreneur better recognize opportunities, make ethical choices and feel compassion for others, offering far reaching implications for the broader health of society.
Entrepreneurship presents a unique context for mindfulness and one that enables the benefits to surface quickly and effectively due to the particular mental challenges and high-stress environments.
The good news is that “a little bit goes a long way” when it comes to the actual practice.
A new research from Wharton Management School found that including just as little as a few minutes of mindfulness in each day makes us more productive.
To start practicing mindfulness, all you need is to allocate 7-10 minute per day for a mindfulness meditation and start building your discipline around creating a sustained habit at work.
Check out my discussion with Emma, Founder of One Circle, on Mindfulness at work.