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Burning the candle at both ends? It's time to prioritise and balance building your startup with your health and wellbeing.
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Being a founder can be an incredibly lonely journey. Late nights spent toiling away that lead into early mornings. And a relentless amount of challenges that are usually being worked on in the shadows. All of this takes a toll on one’s physical, mental and emotional health.

A note Melanie Perkins wrote to herself in 2011 provides a glimpse into what it’s like:

Mel you’re extremely tired. You are in a challenging situation, though you can pull through. Nothing bad is really happening, you’re just feeling depressed because you are so used to achieving things quickly. It’s a hard environment. There is no doubt you will succeed and you will find the team you need, get the investment you need and build the company you have always wanted. You have chosen to put yourself in a challenging situation. If it wasn’t challenging you wouldn’t feel as satisfied when you get to the end goal.

Even for founders running objectively successful businesses, like Mel, it’s incredibly tough.

Many founders are, unfortunately, all too familiar with burning the candle at both ends. Despite being acclimated to dealing with daily turbulence and disruptions to business, founders weren’t left unscathed by the pandemic.

Research from KPMG’s 2021 Fitness, fulfilment and foresight report found that Covid impacted founders in several ways.

Findings from KPMG’s report on the impact of COVID on Founders

Losing sleep, working longer hours and financial pressures compounding — a recipe for disaster when you’re responsible for decision-making, leadership, communications and just about everything else under the sun. KPMG’s report also found that in 2020 there was a significant increase in founders seeking advice from a counsellor or therapist, compared to 2019.

Airtree's mental health & wellbeing support list

Mental health is a topic close to our hearts. We always try to support our portfolio company founders as much as possible when they’re going through these tough times. As investors, it’s important that we set the right example for our industry by reminding everyone it’s okay to not be okay and ask for help. We want all founders and their teams to feel safe about opening up and seeking help and offer subsidies to those in the Airtree fold if they want to speak to a professional.

In this living document of mental health resources, you’ll find:

  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Counsellors
  • Sleep specialists
  • Mindfulness experts
  • Dieticians
  • Executive coaches

They’ve all been recommended by either the Airtree team or our community. We welcome you to continue adding great people working in this space.

Recommended reading & listening
Founders — Get Your Own Personal Board
Passion for Your Startup Doesn’t Have to Mean Constant Stress
Building a Company While Battling Depression
Anxiety tips for entrepreneurs

If you need help or support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.

More help is available:

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