Startup Founder Research 2018

Startup Founder Research 2018

A research report brought to you by High Growth Ventures, KPMG's dedicated startup team, into the wellbeing of startup founders and entrepreneurs.

Amanda Price

Head of High Growth Ventures

KPMG Australia


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Athletic woman running along the street

Fitness, fulfilment and foresight

Founding a business is a demanding pursuit. Many entrepreneurs work long hours, well above the normal working week. The long hours required to grow a startup take a toll on work-life balance, and physical and mental health and wellbeing. This, in turn, affects business performance.

Yet, to date there has been little empirical research in Australia into the impacts that founding a startup can have on the founder.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are seen as the saviours of Australia’s digital future. While the financial and resources aspects of a business enjoy strong support both from government and the wider business community, the human side of entrepreneurship is frequently neglected.

Many founders see themselves as being harder working and more productive than their peers. But running a startup takes a clear toll – with much lower levels of satisfaction with the levels of stress/mental wellness, work-life balance, remuneration and amount of physical activity associated with the role.

There’s a significantly higher incidence of mental health issues among entrepreneurs versus non-entrepreneurs. US entrepreneurs were twice as likely to report a lifetime history of depression, three times as likely to report substance abuse, and six times as likely to report ADHD than comparison participants.

To get a picture of the situation in Australia, we surveyed 70 founders between 2-29 April 2018. They report working an average of 64 hours per-week – well above the standard Australian 40 hour working week. They often take work to bed with them and many have not had time off work recently. Most would like to be able to spend more time with family and friends than they currently do.

How, as an industry, can we better support startup founders?

It is our hope that this research will start conversations within the startup community, and help founders to talk about the personal challenges they face. By encouraging open dialogue, we can better support founders and make high performance sustainable and realistic.

Founders are not superheros, nor machines. They are complex human beings with feelings and families. Let’s remember that – and create an environment with access to the full range of skills they need to grow the Australian high-performance, high-growth ventures of the future.

KPMG Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live and gather as employees, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. We pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

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