In today’s interview, I’m chatting with Tania Diggory, Mental Health Trainer and Founder of Calmer, an organisation set up to support entrepreneurs with their mental wellbeing.
I thought it would be the perfect time to speak to Tania, as next week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and I know many bloggers and ethical business owners work on their own for a lot of the time. Together, we carry the burden of our entire businesses, financial stability, and mental wellbeing – and sometimes, it’s just too much to handle by yourself.
Tania and I met through a chance encounter at Women of the World Festival; she was hosting a stall to celebrate the launch of her pocket book, This Is Calmer, and the illustrations and general vibe brought me over. After learning about her mission to support entrepreneurs, business owners, and freelancers with their mental health, I couldn’t help but want to learn more.
I know I’ve definitely had struggles with my mental health because of what I do, and having just completed my first six months working for myself, there’s been definite ups, downs, stresses and strains. While I love my job, there’s always a feeling of instability, and as something of a control freak, that has taken some getting used to!
In speaking to Tania, I’ve received tips on how to organise my day better, and hope to learn more by taking part in her coaching that takes a holistic approach to running a business. For now though, have a read through of how Tania got started, and her best advice for all of us working in our solopreneur bubbles!
1. What was the spark that led to you starting Calmer?
Launching Calmer was a very natural process inspired by personal experience and spotting a need in the business world to support entrepreneurs and their teams with their mental wellbeing while growing a business.
It’s no secret that starting your own business takes a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance and I believe that maintaining a business is where the real challenge sets in. It feels so exciting when you’re starting out and bringing your ideas to life, yet for a lot of startups reality sets in soon after the initial setup phase and they learn just how much time, effort and energy is involved – which can be overwhelming. This is where the rate of burnout and mental health issues can be particularly prevalent in entrepreneurship.
It’s a common issue that many entrepreneurs try to do way too much in the early days of starting their business. It’s necessary to wear lots of different business hats when you’re starting out, but this way of working isn’t sustainable in the long run. Talking from personal experience where I encountered periods of depression and anxiety attacks in the early years of running my company, I learnt the hard way: how important it is to have a rock solid support system around you, learn from mentors, embed wellbeing practices into your days and find out what balance means to you – because it’s different for everyone.
2. Why is mental wellbeing so important – especially for entrepreneurs?
Essentially, if you are not functioning at your best then this will have an impact on your work. We have an endless supply of information surrounding us these days, with countless opportunities to learn the ‘how-to’ of running a business through reputable courses, tutorials, coaching programmes etc. You’ll learn the fundamentals of what your business needs in order to grow and scale and of course, this is vitally important – but what about what you need for your own personal growth?
You, as the entrepreneur, are the most precious and valuable asset in your business. Nobody can replicate the passion, essence and spirit you embody to bring to your ideas to life and yet.
When conducting my research before launching Calmer, there was very little focus in the market on the ‘how-to’ of managing your mental health and wellbeing to cope with the demands of running a business. It can be very easy to allow the time-consuming nature of running a business to take over your life, and I found from previous experience – as well as from those who I’ve mentored and interviewed – that when you allow that to happen, other aspects of your life that make you happy can end up being neglected. A lack of balance then comes into play and this is where burnout most commonly sets in.
3. Your book, This Is Calmer, covers mental health alongside business growth. Do you think the two are linked?
Yes, absolutely. I believe you need to be mentally strong to manage all that growing a business entails, which takes work, practice and a deep level of self-awareness. Focusing all your energy on purely the business growth will only get you so far, and by doing this you can risk feeling like you’re running on empty. It’s important to learn how to recognise when you’re low on energy, so you can prevent that feeling from escalating and recharge your batteries.
I believe that placing more emphasis on wellbeing in the entrepreneur space will lessen the rate of burnout over time, as well as empower entrepreneurs to work smarter rather than harder and seek the support that they need. In my opinion, the combination of nurturing your own mental wellbeing alongside growing a business is essential to achieving long-term success.
4. What is one key tip you would give to any entrepreneur or freelancer?
Surround yourself with good, supportive, inspiring people – both in your personal and professional life. Too often I encounter business owners struggling because they’re not reaching out and getting the help they need. I believe there is great strength in showing vulnerability and asking for help – the outcome of doing so will mean you’re one step closer to achieving the next step on your business journey, so it’s a win-win result. There are so many opportunities out there and good people who are happy to support great ideas and purpose-led visionaries.
I’ve noticed there is a common concern in the startup world around being able to afford help and support, particularly among freelancers or solopreneurs, where every penny counts in the early days. The thing is, it doesn’t have to cost much at all. When you do carefully invest in the right training, coaching or mentoring for you, the rewards can come back ten-fold – because you’re learning from others who have successfully walked the entrepreneurial path and can help enable you to excel in your field of expertise.
Try not to allow your mind to convince you that you’re on your own, it’s always worth exploring the support that is out there and seeing what fits for you. It has never been a better time to start a business.
5. Finally, do you have any exciting plans you can share with us?
We’re at a very exciting growth stage at the moment as we gradually expand our team and partnerships. We recently launched our three month programme for entrepreneurs in partnership with YADA Events, which we’re planning to run again later this year, and we’re also conducting research to launch more digital products alongside our events and workshops. Watch this space!
I always feel so inspired when talking to Tania, and I know from my experience that’s she right about how connected mental resilience and business growth can be. You can keep up with her, and all things Calmer, on Twitter, Instagram, and of course, on her website.