It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week and as I’m writing for the Business section of The Tees, it was only natural for me to focus my thoughts on the mental health of business owners.

Statistics from state that 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to just 48% of non-entrepreneurs.

As a start up business owner myself, I know that the first year is TOUGH. I’m still in mine and something I notice a lot is that owning a business is RIDICULOUSLY glamourised and often not a true reflection of the reality of the situations we find ourselves in day to day.

Many of us are guilty of looking up to other business owners and envying their success, freedom and financial gains whilst not realising the hard graft, long hours and resilience it has taken to get themselves into that position. As anyone who owns a business will very quickly have learnt, the process of building a business can be a slog which certainly takes its toll on your mental health.

I genuinely find reading stories about other business owners’ start up experiences so motivating and comforting, and I wanted to share some of them with you on here. For me, they help me to recognise that my struggles are all just a natural part of being an entrepreneur and that’s what helps keep my mental health in check. The three people I’ve listed below are inspirational business and thought leaders whose words I think will resonate with many business owners.

1. Steven Bartlett | Entrepreneur | Founder of Social Chain | Sunday Times Best Selling Author

Steven Bartlett is the 28-year-old founder/ex-CEO of Social Chain – a leading, global team with a track-record for leveraging owned media, technology and insights to build brands that earn a meaningful share of people’s lives. From a bedroom in Manchester, this university dropout built the group’s two flagship companies – Social Chain and Media Chain – when he was just 22 years old. 

An award-winning entrepreneur with accolades such as Great British Entrepreneur of the Year and Most Influential Agency Figure 2018, Steven also acts as a speaker, investor and content creator, hosting top charting podcast, ‘The Diary of a CEO’. Previous speaking opportunities have seen Steven speaking at the United Nations, SXSW 2019, VTEX Day alongside Barack Obama, Ted Talk plus many more.

You can listen to his TED Talk where he describes his journey from university drop-out to award-winning entrepreneur here:

2. Sara Blakely | Entrepreneur | Founder of SPANX | Philanthropist

Sara Blakely is founder and owner of shapewear brand Spanx, which sells undergarments, leggings, swimwear and maternity wear in over fifty countries. A onetime door-to-door fax machine salesperson, Blakely made a makeshift undergarment using pantyhose to wear under white slacks. In 2000, Blakely used her $5,000 in savings to start her company, and by 2012, she was named the youngest self-made female billionaire.

One stand out quote from Sara is this: Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.

You can listen to her inspirational start up story on the Tony Robbins Podcast here:

3. Holly Tucker MBE | British Entrepreneur | The woman who made 200 people millionaires

Holly Tucker MBE is many things – mother, MBE, founder, philanthropist, ambassador – but the thing she is above all, is passionate. Founder of Europe’s biggest small business marketplace, Notonthehighstreet, and now Holly & Co, a hub for small businesses to gain advice and inspiration, Holly has made small business her lifeblood.

By the time Holly Tucker was 25, she’d experienced more highs and lows than most of us might expect in a lifetime: a successful career, serious illness and a divorce.

You can read her start up story here : or, her podcast is here:

Hosted by The Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness week is May 10th – 16th 2021 and this year, the theme is nature. For more information, visit

Read more on Mental Health at The Tees Online here…