Groundbreaking Study Shows Links Between Founder Health And Performance in Brazil

At Flourish, we see the pressure rising for startup founders and their teams and believe it’s critical to learn more about the challenges they’re facing and how they can prioritize well-being.

We collaborated with Endeavor Brazil for a groundbreaking study called Health and Performance of High Impact Entrepreneurs (March 2024).

The study addresses the general health and well-being challenges impacting the performance of entrepreneurs in Brazil, bringing data from more than 100 high-impact entrepreneurs, perspectives from 12 experts, cases from 7 ecosystem entrepreneurs, and a compilation of best practices, recommendations, and health and well-being initiatives.

Study highlights include

Mental discomfort is a reality for entrepreneurs. Ninety-two percent (92%) of surveyed founders know another entrepreneur who has faced mental health challenges during their startup journey.

The founder journey is stressful, but it becomes less stressful with experience. The majority of entrepreneurs (64%) work more than 50 hours a week while 57% consider the routine stressful. However, the feeling of tranquility increases with experience rising from 31% of entrepreneurs with less experience to 52% for those who have been on the journey for more than 10 years. The most experienced entrepreneurs also work fewer hours (45%) compared to the youngest (56%).

Economic issues cause the most stress for entrepreneurs. The company's financial situation (60%) and fundraising efforts (36%) were the top two biggest external stress factors, especially among women, people of color, first-time entrepreneurs and those in charge of smaller companies (which make less than R$ 50 million a year).

The majority of entrepreneurs carry beliefs that negatively affect their health and performance. Among the entrepreneurs surveyed, 

  • 75% feel pressure from people’s expectations;
  • 70% experience loneliness throughout the journey; 
  • 62% are sacrificing their present lives for future success; and 
  • 54% consider mental health a taboo in the ecosystem. 

Note: These beliefs are more present among those who reported adverse conditions of mental illness, and less among serial and more experienced entrepreneurs.

Women and people of color face more difficulties on the startup journey than men and white people. Female entrepreneurs report conditions of mental discomfort more frequently. Seventy-seven percent (77%) of female founders surveyed consider the journey more stressful than their male counterparts (55%). The surveyed female founders stated greater difficulty balancing their social and professional lives and feel less open to sharing challenges with partners, investors and their teams.

Only half of entrepreneurs seek professional help for their challenges. All surveyed female founders sought some type of professional support during the last 12 months, while 31% of men did not. Among well-being professionals, psychologists and coaches are the most sought after.

There is a path to healthier and more resilient journeys

The most experienced entrepreneurs state that family and friends are a priority and offer reassurance.  For 83% of surveyed entrepreneurs, their relationships with their family was impacted throughout their startup journey. Yet, those with more founder experience shared their mental health challenges more often with family and friends and gained comfort.

Regular exercise, good night’s sleep and quality nutrition are the most common well-being practices among entrepreneurs. Those entrepreneurs who do not incorporate healthy lifestyle practices reported facing a higher incidence of malaise symptoms.

Peer-to-peer connections and information sharing about personal challenges is a practice that can be better explored. Entrepreneurs with more than 10 years of experience adopt peer support networks more than younger ones (with 1 to 5 years of experience). Experienced founders also who reported sharing their challenges more with their direct teams, investors and co-founders.

Emotional intelligence makes the leadership journey healthier and more high-performing. Endeavor entrepreneurs and experts interviewed for the report point out that a founder can become a high-performance leader by avoiding micromanagement, being open to vulnerability, listening and being pragmatic when dealing with changing scenarios.

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