Stress Management at Startups – Top 5 Ways that Guarantee Results

People who own startups or work there have a constant companion – Stress. The graph of stress has been exponentially growing with modern day quick-fix start-up culture. Thankfully there are smart ways to overcome it!

“In a startup, the swing between highs and lows are pretty wild.” These are the words of Adora Cheung, co-founder of Homejoy and partner at YCombinator.

Her words paint the real picture of how startups actually function. It’s a tight rope walking where chances to fumble and subsequent sources of stress are plenty.

In such scenario, stress management is not a phase or process to be faced and done away with.

In a startup, the swing between highs and lows are pretty wild

For startups it is a continuous effort both at individual level (Owners and employees) as well as group level (Project teams and departments).

It is a common demon that is dealt differently by different people and startups.

Why Stress Spells Havoc for Startups?

While stress is not helpful for any type or size of business, its impact becomes twofold in a startup setting as the stakes are high and opportunities to bounce back are few.

With a large number of startups destined to doom, clear and positive minds become extremely crucial.

It is important to acknowledge the reasons that lead to stress in order to deal with them effectively.

Entrepreneurs on most occasions struggle with:


Whether it is getting the angel investors to see promise in your products, meeting budgets or the fear of making financial losses, the dagger of cash-chaos looms large on the startup owners.


These tend to take a toll on your physical and mental health if not kept in check.

Overcommitting on things to investors, employees and customers can inflict severe stress conditions before you know.

Add to this the expectations from family and friends and you have a perfect recipe for self-doubt and remorse.

Market Share

Capturing the customers’ fancy and target market is a work of sweat and wit.

Needless to say for fresh businesses this poses as a big stress zone. You want to do it right and on most occasions better than your competition


Right from hiring the top talent to taking the lead in setting the way forward, stress seeps through the efforts in trying to keep the organization fabric including people, systems and processes strong and running.

Plus you need to provide solid reasons for them to work with you despite of irregular work schedules, micromanagement, and overambitious targets.

All the above factors sooner or later assume the face of chronic stress that clouds the ability to think clearly and make wise decisions.

Acknowledging these minor turbulences is the first step to either “fight or flight” your stress.

Top 5 Ways of Stress Management Carved for Startups

Stress in natural, but our response to it is consciously chosen.

Startup owners can decide to ring in their productivity back by decompressing in the best way they can.

Stress and related burnout seems to be a herculean task to tackle but in actuality it’s just another startup challenge and that’s how it should be treated – a short-term distraction or set-back.

Here are top 5 ways that are suited for the startup community keen on de-stressing:

1) Back to Basics

This method is a personal favorite of Bill Gates, tech worlds’ richest guy with net worth of $78.6 billion.

SMEs can literally ape this process and feel the difference. It requires you to boil things down to basics, cutting the frills and flares that lead to distractions and unnecessary worry.

Prioritizing and working on things that really count can save up lot on creative mind space for entrepreneurs.

Not to mention the tasks become manageable and simple, when its work in pure entity minus the fuss.

2) Face your fears

A way of living that is as badass as its proponent, Elon Musk (Co-founder PayPal, CEO & CTO SpaceX, CEO Tesla Motors) will seldom let you down.

The visionary believes that one should face the fears upfront and ignore insecurities if they are irrational.

Even when the fears are based on logic and worth, it’s still beneficial to march ahead and do what you intend to anyway.

This way stress is just a small or negligible part of your business equation and it doesn’t tilt your mind and efforts in the wrong direction.

3) Log Out both digitally as well as mentally 

A rookie mistake reported by entrepreneurs is to stick around a problem in hope of finding solution.

With experience, startup owners realize that it is best to take a break from routine and immersing self in some other passion, hobby, or physical exercise.

The idea is to flush out stress from the system via a creative outlet.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube values time-offs as much as other entrepreneurial traits such as hard work and determination.

She believes that burnout and productivity issues can be avoided if you regularly recharge yourself with time-offs, as they also ultimately help you to draw better insights about work.

4) Talk it out

One cannot overemphasize the importance of friends and family.

Startup fraternity needs to find support system – this includes close kin (who provide non-wavered support) as well as fellow entrepreneurs (who might have tasted the same rough waters and know the way out).

The social circle keeps you grounded and helps you to sail through highs and lows.

Perry Tam, co-founder and CEO of Storm8 (a name to reckon with in gaming space) also highlights the support system within the organization in the form of co-founders and early employees who can lend an ear for almost any issues in the company.

5) Use a new lens to see and do things

Adam D’Angelo, co-founder/CEO, Quora believes that stress on many occasions motivates an individual to do his/her best.

However things go south when there is too much of stress and for too long, resulting in counterproductive culture. Hence, the need for a new lens to make things work.

Adopt a fresh perspective for old things.

This includes planning ahead of time, focusing on long term, using objective metrics to measure success, being less of obsessive perfectionist and not being dramatic in dealing with bad news.

Like all things in world, the skill to manage stress can be learnt and developed with a mix of guided motivation and planned schedules that balance work and other aspects of life.


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You and your employees have better things to take care of than stressing about leave and time off requests. Take the first baby step to an organized and stress-free environment by exploring us at

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Bonus Stuff👌🏼: Stress Less

BetterWorks and Column Five Media have created Stress Less, an infographic with advice on how to identify and manage your stress.

stress less

Written By

Mitalee Chhatre

Mitalee, a true professional with over 5 years of corporate experience in Human Resources and Health Sector. Contributor on CakeHR where tracks the newest trends and practices of the work-life world.