Being a first-time startup founder can be a lonely journey, especially if long-time friends and peers have taken a more conventional career path. And 2020 has been particularly demanding: in May 2020 Blind found that 73% of surveyed tech workers are burnt out, thanks to a combination of working longer hours, working from home, not taking paid time off, and increased anxiety levels.

At SaaStock we’re committed to helping SaaS founders gain traction, grow and scale their startups – but not at all costs. This blog post shares advice from other startup founders from around the world, on how to stay healthy and sane on this journey. It covers five main areas that we hear startup founders talk about as important for battling burnout:

  1. Physical health
  2. Mental health
  3. Personal relationships
  4. Professional relationships
  5. Sleep and rest

What is burnout?

How can you tell if you’re feeling a normal level of founder stress, or if you’ve tipped over into burnout territory? Psychologist Christina Maslach, states that burnout consists of three distinct components:

  • Exhaustion: You’re wiped out emotionally, physically, or cognitively (or all of the above). Even rest or sleep don’t help you feel replenished.
  • Cynicism: You bring a sour attitude to the office each day. You aren’t engaged with your work, and you often feel irritated, short-tempered, and detached from your team.
  • Inefficacy: You feel like you can never keep up with the demands of the workplace, despite the fact that you know you were skilled at doing so in the past. 

Joel Gascoigne, CEO of Buffer, wrote extensively of his experience with burnout as a startup founder in 2017:

“This is how I’d describe my experience of burnout: I lost motivation. I just didn’t care. I knew I cared deeply, but I had nothing left. I couldn’t get up in the morning. I felt very sensitive and emotional. It was like anything could set me off, and make me well up. I cried a lot, by myself and with people close to me.”

Sound familiar? We hope not. But if you are recognising some of your feelings in any of the above, in the next sections of this post we’re sharing five crucial areas of focus when battling and preventing burnout for startup founders – and even your employees.

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