11 May 2020

Frank Byte: mental health

By Jasmine Koh and Sarah Khan

Building a resilient startup in the age of isolation

The startup community is facing one of the most challenging times in recent memory as funding becomes scarce and fledgeling business models come under pressure. Founders may feel like they have the world on their shoulders, however they are far from superhuman. Now more than ever it's important for founders to protect their mental health and build resilience.

In our first Frank Byte, we're sharing a few strategies from Kate Smolenska from Bulletproof Performance who spoke at our recent Frank Lab Masterclass on building a resilient startup.

Separate your self-worth from your startup's success

The 'I am my company' syndrome blurs the line between founders and their companies so that company failures are often felt as personal failures. Don't fall into the trap of thinking your startup's success (or lack thereof) reflects your own.

Trust and empower your team

Remember that your team are talented and intelligent people and that you hired them for a reason. Ask yourself: 'What is sucking my time that I can outsource to someone else so I can focus on the important stuff?'

Connect with others

Remain anchored in a support network. Reach out to your co-founder, team, family, friends or a peer group. And while Zoom has been a great tool in connecting, screen time does not necessarily equate to connection ('Zoom fatigue' is real). Finding the right balance is important, so make sure that you are connecting for a purpose.

Get physical

There is no shortage of studies showing mental, emotional and physical wellbeing are all deeply linked to one another. As the divide between work and home life is increasingly blurred, it's more important than ever to allocate time to physical activity. Don't overdo the attempt to be healthy and establish unrealistic goals; a well-formed habit trumps performance here.

Be honest and open

When we feel under the pump, we can often withdraw and internalise our struggles. During these moments, it's important to debrief what is impacting you on a daily basis and be transparent with yourself and others. You're not alone and there's no shame in admitting you need a helping hand. If you're a founder who is struggling, you should reach out to a friend, trusted mental health professional or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SANE Australia on 1800 187 263.

These are steps that every founder can take to look after themselves. Rather than thinking of self-care as a weakness, founders should think of it as an insurance policy to ensure their startup can bounce back from even the most challenging times.


Jasmine Koh

Jasmine Koh

Senior Associate & Frank Lab Co-Lead

Jasmine is a corporate & commercial lawyer whose practise focuses on capital raising, emerging growth companies, and legal technology.