'Fake it 'til You Make it' Doesn't Cut it Anymore

Kyle Dyer | @Kyle_Dyer

When starting up your own business, the harder you work, the more successful you’ll be . . . right?

Not so much, especially if you’re a woman following your passion with gusto.

“Every entrepreneur reports feeling burned-out at some point and that can spell disaster for a start-up,” Kim Gorgens, Ph.D., ABPP said. Gorgens, an associate professor in professional psychology, is the founding Executive Director of DU’s Center for Professional Development (CDP).

“More than half of entrepreneurs report clinically significant signs of mental illness like hyper-critical self-appraisal, manic energy, excessive worry and obsessive thoughts,” Gorgens said. “Ironically, those same qualities often contribute to the success of small business launches.”

1,000 women open a new business every day in the U.S.

Did you know women are opening businesses at a rate five times faster than men?! And a few more stats to blow your minds:

If women are so successful, what’s the problem? Why are women at a greater risk and increased severity of anxiety and stress-related disorders?

“Both men and women experience mental health challenges in the workplace but studies have shown significant gender differences,” Peggy Hill, MS, MSEd said.  “Women with job authority (the ability to hire, fire, set pay) exhibit more depressive symptoms than all men and women without any job authority.  However, men in authority positions have the lowest levels of depression in any group.”

Hill knows the stressors well. She founded her own business, National Behavioral Health Innovation Center and has helped it grow as the Deputy Director at its home on The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

So what resources are available to help small business owners, both women and men?

The University of Denver’s CPD is building lectures and classes into its Small Business Building Blocks series to not only provide sharp business content but also touch on themes of self-preservation.    

This coming Fall, CPD is offering classes called “Mental Fitness & Start-Up Wellbeing” and “Workplace Resiliency.” CPD is also teaming up with the Colorado Women’s College to feature a track of courses designed to promote small business development specifically among women. New enterprises such as Denver’s upcoming Women in Kind co-working space and community focus on how to support and value women in both business and the business of life.

In the meantime, learn and live this phrase: personal energy management.

“It’s not a scientific term,” said Hill. “It’s just a reflection on what I’ve learned to do as part of a start-up organization about which I have similar feelings as other women entrepreneurs.”

Start-ups spend a lot of time on new business management, financial management, and office management, but it’s imperative to focus on personal energy management, too.