Is it possible to pursue business ambitions whilst maintaining personal health?

Start-up founders are often viewed as the epitome of creativity and hard work. The blood, sweat and more-than-occasional tears it takes to successfully set up, maintain and grow a start-up business are well-documented and rightly venerated. However, this commitment can come with a flip side. Sometimes start-ups are so busy grappling with the challenges of building their business, that they neglect to look after their own health.

Start-up health on the line

We worked with global start-up community, Startup Grind, to survey 504 start-up leaders and found that 67% are suffering from personal health issues as a direct result of their professional lives. This becomes less surprising when viewed alongside the fact that almost half (49%) work over 50 hours per week, with one in four (28%) putting in over 60 hours. This is much higher than the 37.1 hours the average UK worker spends at their job. [i]

The results suggest that these long hours, combined with the stress of starting a business are having a detrimental effect on start-up leaders’ health. Over a third (38%) complain of insomnia or poor sleep, whilst one in four (26%) suffer from poor mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety and depression.

These issues are frequently associated with stressful lifestyles and indicate that, unless start-up leaders can access greater levels of useful support, they could end up on a fast track towards burnout, which would also be detrimental to their business’ success.


The greatest irony is that the majority (78%) of start-up leaders were inspired to launch their business by a wish to improve people’s lives, with one in five (22%) motivated by the condition or health of a loved one. I know from experience working with start-ups and within the consumer health sector more generally that this passion can be an incredibly powerful motivator. It’s imperative that we work with start-ups to help them capitalise on this, rather than it act as a detractor to their success.

Sources of start-up stress

When asked what business activities were contributing to their stress levels, almost three quarters of start-up leaders (74%) named funding, investment and/or cashflow in their top three. This was closely followed by access to talent and recruitment, cited by over a third (39%) and product/service innovation and R&D (33%).

These are issues for business leaders universally, no matter the size of their enterprise. However, they’re also likely to be felt more acutely by start-up leaders, who may not have access to expertise in each of these areas.

The desire to bridge this knowledge gap is one of the reasons why we’re seeing more and more start-ups partnering with larger organisations. At RB, for example, we partner with health focused businesses with a promising concept or viable consumer health solution and work on a bespoke partnership basis to develop the offering and bring it to market.

Our partners gain access to the resources within our organisation, including legal and regulatory support, PR and marketing advice and a wealth of global market insight.

However, the benefits also flow both ways. We’re fully aware that we can learn a lot from start-ups and can improve our own business exponentially by taking their agility on board and learning from their approach. We also recognise that the best ideas don’t always come from within. Bringing the outside into RB drives diversity of thought, which is critical to innovation.

Making the most of start-up life

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom for start-up leaders though, as our survey found many experience an improvement in their personal lives as a result of starting out on their own. A large number (41%) say that launching their own business has improved their relationships with family members, whilst one in three (38%) report being in a better position financially.

If start-up founders want to continue their positive journey whilst improving their personal health and making their venture a success, it’s imperative that they reduce sources of stress where possible. Finding a partner able to offer the right level of support in areas where this is needed most can be a great first step.

To give start-ups an opportunity to find out more about partnering with RB, this weekend we will be hosting our annual #RBInnovationHack at Startup Grind Global 2020. The event will see RB convene healthcare/healthtech start-ups together with RBs R&D and Marketing teams, to ideate potential solutions to a health challenge. Watch this space for news following the event and please do get in touch here if you want to find out more about partnering with RB.


Is it possible to pursue business ambitions whilst maintaining personal health? was originally published in Startup Grind on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Jeremy Webb Startup Grind - Medium

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Jeremy Webb

Chief & Adventurer

Jeremy WebbIs it possible to pursue business ambitions whilst maintaining personal health?

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