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  • Writer's pictureNBWN

Toxic Relationships

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

Do you know a female entrepreneur who always tells you everything is ‘positive and great’ in her business but her actions are contrary to what she is saying?

  • Has she stopped attending events, taking telephone calls and isolating herself away from her normal network, whilst hiding behind her social media platform?

  • Struggles to communicate or over-communicate the challenges that they are going through, leaving you feeling overwhelmed with their issues?

Well if you answered yes, then you will be surprised to learn that this behaviour is more common than you can imagine in business.

Recent research shows that women are two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than men, and less likely to report it.

There is a common belief that if people know they have these symptoms, it will become one of the greatest barriers to success in business and the workplace.

It always hits home when high-profile entrepreneurs have taken their lives, or 'come out' that they have been suffering from depression for years. To onlookers, they seemed to be living the ‘entrepreneurial dream’ but people don’t understand that the odds are stacked against their ‘success.’

The statistics on failure are not good; even the Small Business Association claims that 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10.

Recently I have heard of more and more women suffering from depression and mental health issues whilst trying to run their businesses. They struggle to share the issue with those closest to them for fear of judgement and hide behind some form of addictive behaviour.

Remember, stress is no respecter of occupation, education and income. Juggling the demands of a business; caring responsibilities and having to work longer, women are finding it harder to manage their expectations which are resulting in them experiencing greater levels of mood and anxiety disorders.

What I know for sure is that if you are running a business, you are going to find yourself in a ‘sticky situation’ which tips you over the edge at some point.

I remember listening to the likes of Tony Robbins, Les Brown and John Maxwell talking about hitting ‘rock bottom’ and I used to believe it was a simple narrative that was compulsive to say. Today, I know this is very true.

These ‘business storms’ can be due to the pace of change; job and pension uncertainty; the negative narrative around Brexit, the oncoming recession and more often than not, the breakdown of a relationship.

This has not only left many small business owners jaded but feeling isolated and desperate which means they miss opportunities that could be open to them.

Don’t be fooled by the business “pop culture.”

I believe entrepreneurs are innovators and creators of solutions from ‘nothing’. They have ambition, they have the vision, and they often have big dreams. But if they don’t actualise their vision in a timely manner, they are prone to depression and mental health problems.

Their days are often lonely; physically challenging and suffering from relentless rejection. With drive, unfortunately, comes an increased risk of depression and mental illness due to their expectations and aspirations.

The good thing is that those with drive and are able to bounce back, know that it’s not permanent and more than motivational quotes, chanting and meditation. They know they have to ride the emotional storm and come up with the mindset, strategies and tools to get through this setback.

They want to be part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the drive for global economic empowerment for women. They are not put off by the gender pay gap or the revelations of the race discrepancy audit. Women want to position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities that the advancement of AI, drones, driverless cars and so forth will bring.

Finally, I believe, it is the ability to embrace these realities that is what makes us entrepreneurs and rally.


Sonia Brown MBE is a market access advisor who is passionate about helping her clients to navigate the critical area between business, politics and policymaking.

She is an award-winning business communicator, uber connector, coach, trainer, writer and diversity maverick with over two decades experience in marketing, branding and life skills development.

Sonia is passionate about the women in enterprise and the diversity & inclusion agenda. As a result, she founded the National Black Women’s Network (NBWN) in 1999 followed by Let’s Talk Business; Inspirational Women’s Super-Summit; Connected Women Business Panels; as well as EVOLVE; a six-step business growth and membership programme aimed at solo and micro-entrepreneurs.

She is a leading authority in many areas of business, leadership and marketing; and is currently supporting business owners and leaders through The Alpha Group; an executive peer-to-peer advisory board which meets monthly to provide strategic solutions for overcoming challenges and issues.

Sonia was named one of the Top 50 diversity figures in public life on the Economist Global List and is the International Alliance for Women (TIAW) 2015 World of Difference 100 Award Recipient for the economic empowerment of women.

She contributes to a number of radio shows, magazines and newspapers on women, diversity and enterprise issues.

To find out how to double your business value and dominate your sector email: or visit: for further information.

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