We believe the best way to change the world is to build a business. But building a business is incredibly hard – and founders need to be resilient in order to deal with the challenges and stresses along the journey. That is why we are making holistic support a priority at Balderton, creating a programme to offer broad support to our founders.
01. Programme Overview
The Balderton Founder Wellbeing & Performance Platform includes a tailored six-month health and nutrition programme, peer-to-peer support and our on-staff executive coach.
02. Resources & Events
We have a dedicated programme of events, webinars, content and resources, designed to empower and educate founders to help them perform at their best.
03. Founder Survey
We asked the founder ecosystem about the challenges they face and what they need from their investors.
Entrepreneurs are often under relentless pressure. This is an unavoidable part of being a founder. And when things get difficult, the assumption has always been that you just have to work harder, for more hours.
But science tells us that this is not the best approach – and won’t lead to the best outcomes. Instead, founders can optimise their performance by dedicating time to key areas – like wellbeing, mental health, coaching and peer support. High-performance athletes don’t train at 100% intensity, 7 days a week and ignore everything else – and neither should high-performance founders.
We believe taking a holistic view of what impacts performance is in everyone’s interests – from founders to investors, to the wider startup ecosystem in Europe.
“Had I planned my life for a 30 year journey, things might have been quite different. We believe there is a better, smarter way of working – as the elite sports industry and individuals in far-ranging fields, like the performing arts or medicine, have already figured out. We are doing this because we believe that the best way to change the world is to start a company. And that for those companies to change the world, they need leaders who can last as long as their vision.”
“The mental wellbeing of entrepreneurs is a critical but widely overlooked foundation of their success. High mental wellbeing means more productive, creative, and persistent entrepreneurs and more ambitious and resilient businesses. Entrepreneurs whose mental wellbeing suffers make poorer decisions and find it difficult to cope with challenges and crises, leading to unnecessary business churn.”
“When I was an athlete, we had to take regular breaks between practice and competitions to be 100% mentally and physically fit when it mattered. But when I founded my own company, I somehow had the feeling that taking breaks was not really an option, and that I had to be there for everything all the time – it was like running a marathon in sprint-mode. As a result, there were periods where I felt completely exhausted and where it was increasingly difficult to be on top of things when it mattered most. Over the past few years I had to re-learn to manage my time and energy more responsibly and it turned out to be relatively small things – like switching off all notifications from my phone, doing sports regularly, taking time off from work and family once in a while – that made a huge difference.”
“Founders have taken on the challenge of founding companies because of their incredible drive. Inevitably, they put themselves under enormous pressure to succeed and to deliver – it is a part of what makes them successful. A key part of my role is to work with founders to make sure that this pressure is productive. Where this pressure is getting in the way of them delivering their best, as a leader, it is about revisiting existing habits and prioritisation, and finding an approach that is genuinely sustainable for them. Good leadership needs to be about delivering in the long term, not driving yourself to burnout.”
“I founded StalkBuyLove at a very young age, and I was not prepared for the serious toll it would take on my mental and physical health. Building a business is always going to be hard, but there are tangible steps we can take to help founders invest in themselves and thus help create superior business outcomes in the long-term.”
“Founders, like elite athletes, are expected to manage stress and anxiety under pressure, sustain motivation, optimise concentration and communication skills, and contribute to a culture of accountability, while mitigating the risk of burnout, exhaustion and failure. Professional athletes do this by training their brain and central nervous systems to manage stress more effectively, by embracing uncertainty and discomfort, and prioritising self-care, especially when work-life balance feels impossible.”
of founders feel that VC investors can help create a culture where entrepreneurs can look after their wellbeing, directly impacting performance and increasing the likelihood of success.
“I was in the burnout zone most of last year. Mixture of challenging markets and endless investor meetings with bad sleep, bad diet and low exercise. Putting more and more hours in as the solution… It was lose-lose-lose for everyone. It impacted strategic decision-making, team dynamics, morale and performance.”
agree excessive stress can result in bad decision making.
“I find that when I’m under a lot of pressure, I am terrible at longer term thinking. Setting strategy and direction requires deep thinking, research and creativity. This is vastly reduced under high pressure – your mind is not free to explore when it’s crowded.”
feel there is an expectation that entrepreneurs must always work long hours in order to be successful.
“There was a very noticeable impact on how well we tracked as a company. Spent too long working on the wrong things, we were not agile enough, etc. I was distracted and unable to focus and work effectively on the right things.”