Staying up all night, working nonstop, eating on the run and skipping meals are often telltale signs of starting a new business. But research shows this constant hustle - which is often glorified as the key to success - can have a negative impact not only on an entrepreneur's health and well-being but also his or her business.
New research led by UCF assistant professor of management Jeff Gish suggests that engaging in recovery may help entrepreneurs reduce the negative impact of stress.
"Entrepreneurs who work really hard and grind on their business and who most need to recover, don't take a break," says Gish, who also has studied how lack of sleep impacted entrepreneurs' decision-making ability. "That incessant grind, fueled by the autonomy that accompanies self-employment, hinders or hampers them from taking time to recover. This creates a tension between the good and bad associated with entrepreneurial careers, which leads to strange well-being outcomes. We're trying to fix that."
Gish builds on his previous research that documented the link between entrepreneurial well-being and the stressors that affect it. In this study, which was recently published in the scholarly journal Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Gish proposes recovery interventions to enhance entrepreneurial well-being.
To help entrepreneurs recover, Gish and his co-authors recommend three recovery-intervention categories they've dubbed the 3 Rs: Respite, Reappraisal and Regimen.
"Respite is just taking a break or pushing 'pause' on work. Reappraisal is changing how you think about stress," says Gish, noting that writing in a journal can help someone understand how they look at stress or failure and then reframe it. "And the last one is regimen, just adding structure to respite and reappraisal."
Gish recommends setting work aside, even for just a few minutes, to take a walk, listen to music or engage in other non-work-related activities. The study notes that even micro-breaks, which may span just 5-10 minutes, can provide physical and mental relief from stress, aid in recovery and boost productivity.
"If you're always working and always on, that can impair recovery and eventually harm a host of well-being outcomes," he says.
The study, a comprehensive review of the literature around entrepreneur well-being, stressors and their effects, also offers guidance on how entrepreneurs can reframe how they look at self-care and recovery, and then how to build it into their routines.
Gish joined UCF's College of Business in 2019. Co-authors for the research are Amanda Jasmine Williamson, lecturer in Innovation and Strategy at University of Waikato in New Zealand; and Ute Stephan, professor of entrepreneurship, King's College London, and Technische Universität Dresden.
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice