The 5 Emotional Challenges You’ll Face as an Entrepreneur

UPDATED: June 1, 2021
PUBLISHED: December 18, 2014

No doubt, entrepreneurship requires a whole lot of mental energy. With its highs and lows, excitement and fear—which you may feel all at once—there are times when time feels too short and failure seems to be lurking close by.

These feelings might not be fun, but they’re normal. After all, choosing entrepreneurship means you are choosing risk, acknowledging that the chance for failure is alive and well.

Related: How I Quit My Job, Traveled the World and Became an Entrepreneur-All Before I Turned 25

Whether you are contemplating making your side business a full-time thing, or you’re already in the throes of day-to-day small-business life, read this and remember you’re far from alone. Here are 5 of the most common psychological challenges you’ll find yourself battling as an entrepreneur.

1. Defining yourself:

When you get a job, your employer has a job description that describes what you need to do. When you become an entrepreneur, however, you have to decide for yourself who you want to be. Why are you starting this business? What are your primary responsibilities? These questions can cause a lot of pressure.

2. Operating under little guidance:

Becoming an entrepreneur means starting with a totally blank slate. The business begins and ends with you. While that can sound pretty awesome, it also means you have little guidance—you have to create the map, the directions to get there and the destination where you’ll arrive. It’s easy for doubt to creep in. Be confident in your decisions and be okay with operating alone and carrying the weight of those decisions.

3. Intense feelings, all at once:

Doubt, passion, confusion and fear are common—inside and outside entrepreneurship. But those emotions happen all at once—at great intensity— for entrepreneurs. With the lack of guidance and stress that come with running a business, it’s next to impossible to avoid these feelings.

4. Stress management:

Never kid yourself into thinking that entrepreneurship is easy. The pressure can be overwhelming, and until you learn how to manage and control the resulting anxiety, you just have to prepare for the gut-wrenching feelings coming your way in the early stages. Say your phone rings on the weekend or after hours. It probably means trouble, but you can’t ignore it—nausea or not. You’re in charge, so take a breath, answer the call and deal with the situation.

5. Financial strain:

When things go south, the first thing affected is cash flow, the lifeblood of any company. When finances are stretched to their breaking point, when that flow is cut off, you and your company are in big trouble. The subsequent chain reaction can be devastating to everyone involved in the venture, including your family.

Why then, if entrepreneurship is challenging in so many ways, do people keep becoming entrepreneurs?

Easy. It’s passion.

With passion, we aren’t boggled down by fear and self-doubt. It’s a powerful feeling that reveals our greater purpose in life.

So if you find yourself overwhelmed by the psychological challenges of entrepreneurship, remember that they’re all part of the journey—the destination you wanted and needed to go on. Building something out of nothing is not simple, which is why it’s commendable that you’ve chosen this path. It’ll get better, the challenges growing less intimidating and more controllable, if you just keep going.

Related: John C. Maxwell: Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur?

Jessica Krampe is the digital managing editor for A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Jessica has worked for news, entertainment, business and lifestyle publications. Outside of the daily grind, she enjoys happy hours, live music and traveling.