“A World Where Entrepreneurship is Great For Your Mental Health” An intense conversation with serial founder Lizelle Van Vuuren.
She’s had a great deal of trauma in her life, but those experiences shaped her into who she is. We asked her if she’d go there in a conversation. And, to our surprise, she really, really went there.
2 min
November 7, 2022

Entrepreneurship is really tough. It wears on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s tough on our significant others, our friends, and our families. Often times, while we’re building, we have no lives outside of work.


70% of entrepreneurs suffer from mental health related realities, like ADHD, depression and anxiety. Most entrepreneurs have brains that are perpetually active, extremely creative, and hungry for more.


I recently sat down with my friend Lizelle Van Vuuren to talk about mental health for entrepreneurs; a topic that is far from foreign to her.


Let’s start by sharing that she is truly a modern entrepreneur. Most notably, she founded Women Who Startup in 2013, Undock in 2020, has had a number of smaller projects along the way, and is currently the Chief Growth Officer at OwnTrail.


Lizelle shared with me that she has experienced a great deal of childhood trauma.


“Most humans have trauma throughout their lives. I’m an immigrant. I’m gay. These experiences made me who I am. They certainly gave me layers of resilience, too.


So when someone says to me “It’s really difficult to build a company, right?” I usually respond, “For me, no. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, and about the easiest thing I’ve faced in my whole life. There are things I’ve overcome in my life that were terrifying and lonely. And I’ve survived all of them. So for me to have the privilege to build companies with cool people, to share myself with the world, to be inventive and build technology that connects and provides value… it’s about the easiest, most magical thing I’ve ever done in my life.


The darkest moments I’ve had were actually the moments in between companies. It wasn’t when I was building, when my mind had something to gnaw on every day with the amazing people I was meeting along the way.


"I don’t want to live in a world where I don’t have entrepreneurship as a tool for my mind. Entrepreneurship didn’t cause my mental health struggles. It saved my life."



What if I didn’t have it? Would I just sit around and build puzzles all day and play with legos? NO! I have the capacity to be wildly creative, extraordinarily inventive, and solve really hard problems in the world. Entrepreneurship is a gift.


So, let’s call mental health the “other side” or the “downside” of entrepreneurship. There has to be a balance. If you’re in the right support communities, you can absolutely use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to navigate your mental health.

While this is a tricky and sensitive topic, we invite you to join the conversation. Is there someone in your life who should watch this episode? Please share this founder story with them.


If there's anything we can do to help support you in your entrepreneurial journey, please don't hesitate to reach out.