Research on entrepreneurial stress – Do we need it?

By Yekatenia Pak

Even though research on entrepreneurial stress is timely and much needed, many see entrepreneurship as key to a better quality of life. The public tends to visualise entrepreneurs as mysterious heroes, always slaying the dragon by the end of the story. This, however, belies the darkness of the stress that entrepreneurs often endure. The abundance of stories on entrepreneurial success often overshadows the thorny road entrepreneurs have to take. Heroes need the appropriate equipment to survive the fight.

In my research, I reveal five behavioural patterns entrepreneurs might exhibit when encountering stress. These behavioural patterns comprise five groupings of entrepreneurial character: A Cross to Bear, Follow the White Rabbit, We Be One Blood, Restless Souls, and Business as Usual.

A Cross to Bear entrepreneurs commonly experience stress because stressful encounters might contradict or threaten their moral values and self-esteem. Moreover, these entrepreneurs might refuse any help as they view business-related challenges as personal.

Follow the White Rabbit entrepreneurs are driven by an idea and perceive any obstacle as an anchor that threatens to drag them down. These entrepreneurs feel they must also share the same values as their teams lest stress is unavoidable.

For We Be One Blood entrepreneurs, the importance of having a team plays a special role in how they respond to stress. These entrepreneurs perceive conflicts with the team as stressful, as they believe having like-minded partners is essential for business development. Also, they experience stress if stressful encounters thwart their goal attainment.

Restless Souls entrepreneurs thrive on action, are commonly overburdened with challenges and responsibilities, and might require external intervention.

Finally, Business as Usual entrepreneurs perceive stress as an integral part of entrepreneurship and experience stress due to incongruency between their goals and stress encounters.

Research on entrepreneurial stress is not only about illuminating the impenetrable darkness of the stress experience. It is also about providing entrepreneurs with efficient tools to persevere. By investigating the different ways in which entrepreneurs experience stress, we can help individuals to reflect how they might encounter stress in their own entrepreneurial pursuits, and plan strategies to mitigate stress’s negative consequences.

About the author:

Yekaterina Pak is a PhD student at Vaasa University in the School of Management. She holds two Master’s degrees in Science from Turku University and Vaasa University, majoring in international business and strategic management, respectively. Yekaterina’s research interest is in entrepreneurial stress. The purpose of her research is to explore why certain entrepreneurs choose to abandon the exploitation of a lucrative opportunity. She also seeks to investigate and explain the linkages between stress, the entrepreneurial process, and the personal characteristics of entrepreneurs.