5 Need-To-Know Triggers for Depression in Small Business

About the Author: Ashley Thomson
Ashley Thomson

Running your own business can be hugely rewarding, but for many small business owners having the sole responsibility for the company’s success or failure can take a heavy toll. Did you know that currently over 3 million Australians are living with depression and anxiety, with work stress being a key trigger.[1][2] The Tenfold Business Coaching team recently had the good fortune to attend the Business Excellence Forum on the Gold Coast, where the importance of supporting mental health in the small business community was highlighted by Leanne Faulkner.

The highs and lows… Leanne’s story

Leanne Faulkner is an Australian entrepreneurial success story. She developed Billie Goat Soap from her kitchen table in 2004 to a venture that at its peak turned over $2.4 million annually. Along the way, Faulkner experienced impressive highs, winning numerous business awards, and featuring in media stories on up-and-coming entrepreneurs. However, her success as a small business owner came at the price of her own mental health.

When Billie Goat’s growth dropped sharply in 2011, Faulkner suffered the lows of debilitating depression. The business problems hit her hard and she was in a dark hole that seemed impossible to climb out of. She struggled to find anything that helped. Faulkner saw organisations such as beyondbluethe Black Dog Institute and WorkCover Australia. There was plenty of information on depression, and support for managers and employees, but not much for small business owners. She found that the counsellors were ineffective; and didn’t seem to understand the nuances of entrepreneurship. She says, “When counselling failed, I thought I was beyond help.”

Faulkner eventually found a psychologist who diagnosed her with situational depression. The University of Tasmania’s Business In Mind project for small business owners with stress and depression was also of great help, and Leanne is now in a much better place.

How are you travelling?

In my role as a business coach at Tenfold Business Coaching, I see first-hand the pressures that small business owners face. Can you relate to any of the mental health triggers listed below? Chances are, you can…

  1. Financial burdens. Are you carrying large personal and business debt? Do you have cash flow, tax, payroll and accounting issues?
  2. Huge workloads. Do you constantly work long hours, take work home, and never take breaks?
  3. People management issues. Are you impacted when crucial staff members resign? Do you have to manage staff performance problems and dismissals? Are you frequently dealing with customer disputes? Do you face constant battles with your business partners or shareholders?
  4. External pressures. Do you see a downturn in profits due to economic changes that are out of your control? Are you experiencing family breakdown, the loss of loved one or illness?
  5. A lack of self-care. Do you blur the boundaries between home and work, and find it difficult to separate yourself from your work?

Let’s face it. Owning a small business is challenging. Business owners can be in a vulnerable position where their team and suppliers rely on them to be in a strong mental place, and lead the way. But what if you are struggling? Who do you turn to?

What To Do When Times Get Tough

Trying to go it alone when you are struggling can mean you don’t get the support you need. While we as business coaches are certainly not qualified to provide mental health treatment, we can be the listening ear for clients experiencing challenges that may lead to a mental health issue. Because we sometimes see clients with existing mental health issues, generally in a mild form, we can assist with recommending professionals to speak to while at the same time working with the business owner to fix the issues in their business that might have caused the mental health issue in the first place.

Remember, you don’t have to bottle things up – taking action and calling in extra support is the right thing to do. Unsure of where to start? Give us a call at Tenfold Business Coaching today on 03 9813 8777 or check out these resources.


Heads Up: https://www.headsup.org.au/creating-a-mentally-healthy-workplace/small-businesses

Business In Mind: http://www.businessinmind.edu.au/

Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au

Fortitude At Work: https://www.facebook.com/fortitudeatwork


Sources: [1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2008). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.

[2] D LaMontagne, A., Keegel, T., Vallance, D., Ostry, A., & Wolfe, R. (2008). Job strain — Attributable depression in a sample of working Australians: Assessing the contribution to health inequalities. BMC Public Health.