At Wow, we’ve conducted many research projects over the years looking at different aspects of running a business. This time, we wanted to go much deeper and explore a topic that we believe is critical to the success of a business, but often not talked about – the mental resilience of the business owner. We’ve just completed a nationwide survey and the results are striking.

You are most definitely not alone

The research found that 94% of business owners have felt anxious about their business in the last month – and most alarmingly, 15% of business owners feel anxious every single day. Looking back over the past few years, I have experienced anxiety about my business at least monthly, probably weekly – and almost always for no ‘good’ reason. I always thought that I was the exception, an edge case. The reality is starkly different.

Planning = Peace of Mind

Interestingly, our research showed that business owners who haven’t written down their goals and objectives were five times more likely to experience uncontrollable worry than those who have. Having a plan is clearly a key strategy in managing your mental resilience, yet only 27% of business owners have a basic documented plan for their business – we’re not talking about business plans and forecasts, just simple goals for the year ahead.

You’ll probably be alright

The longer you’re in business, the better you get at dealing with the ups and downs. Perhaps understandably, owners of business with annual revenues of under £1m are 40% more likely to experience uncontrollable worry than their counterparts running larger businesses. At an event we ran recently for owners of beautiful businesses, Hiroki Takeuchi, co-founder of GoCardless, explained this phenomenon:

“Once you go through enough crises, you get used to it and better at managing it. You learn that you’ll probably be alright. Balance emotionally and mentally is really important otherwise the stress grinds you down”

Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey. The full report is now available; check out some of the other interesting findings and strategies business owners employ to build mental resilience.