Entrepreneurs Message to Every Start-Up

Tom Blomfield, successful start-up entrepreneur of GoCardless and Monzo has opened up about his mental health and this is important of founders, startups and small business owners
Tom Blomfield, successful start-up entrepreneur of GoCardless and Monzo has opened up about his mental health

“I think a lot of people in the world…going through a pandemic, going through lockdown and the isolation involved in that has an impact on people’s mental health,” says Tom Blomfield, founder of Monzo, the digital only bank.

Marc Ford

Marc Ford

Editor-in-Chief, Business Media Owner, Business Coach, Author and Keynote Speaker. Works with over 100's of small businesses every year. Trusted by BBC TV and Radio, Channel 4, Mercedes Benz, Hitachi Capital on business matters.

Except he’s no longer working with the business. He resigned last week siting his mental health and the stresses of running a business. It’s a brave move for a man in his mid-thirties who has been credited with two of the best challenger brands in our economy. He founded the payment company, GoCardless in 2011 and continued on to start the successful challenger bank, Monzo in 2015.

Living The Dream

On the face of it, it’s every entrepreneurs dream. You start a business, and you are suddenly running something that’s growing and growing and is worth millions. But as he says himself, “I never had a job proper job before and was suddenly responsible for a large business,” and with that comes it’s stresses and strains and he felt that the joys of this quickly ebbed away. The pandemic has sped the process up. “I don’t think I was any different, so I was really struggling. I had a really, really supportive exec team around me and a really supportive set of investors on the board and I was really grateful that when I put my hand up and said, ‘I need help’, they were super receptive to that.”

A Breath of Fresh Air

It’s a breath of fresh air when it comes to young, ‘go-getting’ truly successful entrepreneurs that someone comes forward like this. Only a fortnight ago I saw many ‘industry leaders’ talk up their pseudo-motivational bullshit about how 2021 was going to be ‘it’, posing for pictures with blank pieces of paper whilst they ‘planned their goals’, were doing this and that and pretending that life was all rosy in the garden. Perhaps it is, but it was AS noticeable they had all gone missing, as they had done in the first lockdown period less than 24hrs after the Prime Ministers announcement on the new lockdown measures. So Tom being open and honest and not continuing the facade of pressure not getting to him, is perhaps a life line for thousands of small business owners out there. 

Just a Warning

“Mental health is key for founders in fast-growth start-ups – the challenge is that they often lack a support network where they can open up about and ease the strain of scaling businesses,” says Gerard Grech, chief executive of entrepreneur network company Tech Nation. The pandemic has just magnified these pressures. A survey conducted for mental health start-up Spill found that 4 in 5 of UK workers had felt close to burning out in the past year. Both the top and bottom end of the business structure had suffered the most, with entry-level graduates and senior executives most at risk of mental exhaustion. Add to that the environment in which Tom finds himself, the Tech sector, some 54% of tech workers were working into the evenings, well above the average of 40%. 3 in 5 were answering messages and emails regarding business in the evenings as opposed to the average of 45%.

There’s a lesson for us all here. If a young, successful entrepreneur can be honest about their mental health then perhaps it opens the door to the rest of us. Through isolation and quarantines, we have begun to view our niche’s, industries, connections and our world through the eyes of social media on the internet. Just remember the words from Hugh Laurie in the TV hit, ‘House’, usually after one of his sub-ordinates had been asking for a full medical history of an ill patient, “Everybody lies…”

Perhaps now is not the time.

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Business Coach, Author and Consultant. Has worked with BBC TV and Radio and Channel 4 on business matters. Trusted by Mercedes Benz, Hitachi Capital. Keynote speaker.