In a recent Q&A with health entrepreneur, doctor and founder of Proactive Heath Solutions, Dr Fundile Nyati, I asked the following question, “would you say entrepreneurship attracts people prone to struggling with mental illness or does it cause it?”

Dr Nyati had just given a talk on “The Importance of Holistic Health as A Key Success Factor for COVID19 Pandemic Disruption Survival” at a virtual event for The Innovation Hub and one of the things he spoke on was how entrepreneurs can be prone to depression, anxiety and the like.

Having grown up in an entrepreneur’s household and having started, worked in and shut down multiple small businesses, I was curious about this entrepreneurship “chicken or egg” question, as in which comes first.

Dr Nyati’s response was that, paraphrased, entrepreneurship brings with it unknowns, pressures and challenges that can cause and aggravate mood disorders.

With everything that is going on in the world today, and the increased challenges facing those of us who live on the survival line from a business or professional perspective, there is a sliver of positivity, if one can call it that. A friend pointed out that, as entrepreneurs, freelancers, independent consultants, etc, we are better wired to dealing with the uncertainty. It is a continuation – albeit particularly challenging – of the hustle that we go through daily.

If anything, it is easier to talk to people we owe money to because we may have been having these conversations already, balancing cashflow, looking for work, marketing our wares, etc. To be honest, it wasn’t something I had thought about until it was pointed out to me, but I can’t imagine how being retrenched, having been in a job for a whole career, feels. Trying to figure out what’s next while dealing with the anxiety, the fear, the doubt.

I keep reminding myself that, while it hasn’t been on the scale of a global pandemic, I have navigated my way through times as trying as this one, and it will get better. Until the next time. Or, perhaps, this is the last time.

4 Comments

  1. Mukhtar

    During a few of my startups, there were times that I felt almost bipolar. Manic highs, followed by debilitating lows. Raising findings highs, zero cash in the bank lows. Then periodically, middle ground traction. Flow. We adjust quicker, bounce back faster and become more resilient with time.

  2. Kojo Baffoe

    It does feel a little weird looking at it as positive but we are forced to be a lot more resilient. Thanks for sharing.

  3. phomolo lebotsa

    My role as an Entrepreneur has been interspersed with periods of full time employment. I registered my company in 2008- whilst employed elsewhere. After four years of moonlighting and stolen hours of my employer’s time, I decided to go the whole hog: I resigned from full-time employment to focus on my company. The biggest gain was the ability to devote more time to Sales and Rainmaking. I invested a chunk of my terminal benefits in my venture: rented an office and bought all that goes with it. After a period of about 6-9 months, when the novelty of being my own boss began to wear off, I started missing the comfort of a guaranteed salary. Consulting assignments were few and far between. I found that I was using my terminal benefits to finance my living expenses, while also financing my cash-strapped start-up. I had thought that pitching the business at a level where we had an office and a PA-cum – salesperson would help us clinch bigger deals quicker; the reality was a bit more sobering. In time, I fell out with my partners – who felt it was unfair for me to motivate for a salary (as the only full-time partner), while we all regularly chipped in to help the organization get by… Cut this long story short: I was forced back into employment.I might add that the period of financial instability cost me my marriage. Ironically, I got to spend more time with my son during this period, as I took responsibility to ferry and get him from school. I also spent time at home as there were days when I did not have enough gas to drive to work. Like most entrepreneurs, there were moments when I thought to close the business( luckily, I hung on). These days, I wear my hats: I juggle employment with ‘running’ my Messaging business. It is a challenging balancing act – with regular clashes and potential to come the loser on both fronts. It is both exciting and dangerous(at my age, I live off my reputation and cannot afford the potential harm from missed deadlines…). The years that I put in, have borne some fruit as I now have a few anchor clients from those days. I am able to also finance my business from my salary during rainy days. It is not the easiest kind of existence – but it is my chosen path. It has to work.

  4. Kojo Baffoe

    Thanks for the comment Malome. It is about designing it to work for you, from a life perspective. Never an easy journey but also keep in mind that you are allowed to change your mind as circumstances, your goals, etc change.

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About Kojo Baffoe

Of Ghanaian/German heritage, raised in Lesotho and currently based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Kojo is the proverbial slashie, the professional ‘jack of all trades.’ He is an entrepreneur, writer, facilitator, content architect, former men’s magazine editor and speaker. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (1994) with majors in Economics, Marketing and Business Administration from the former the University of Natal (Durban), now University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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