How Founders & Entrepreneurs Can Manage Their Mental Health

How Founders & Entrepreneurs Can Manage Their Mental Health

In 2020, the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States conducted a study looking at the mental health of entrepreneurs. The study found that 72% of entrepreneurs are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues compared to just 48% of non entrepreneurs (the general population). The study also noted that entrepreneurs were significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression, ADHD, substance use and bipolar diagnosis. Burnout, anxiety, insomnia, depression – these are all incredibly common diagnoses (whether self diagnosed or professionally) of those who run a business. Unfortunately, it turns out that being a startup founder or entrepreneur isn’t simply waking up on a yacht and responding to a few emails before your morning espresso.

With these stats and knowledge in mind, what can be done to protect the mental health of entrepreneurs?  Here are a few ideas to help business leaders navigate throughout the stressful, but rewarding journey of growing a business.

1. Claim Your Own Time: With an endless list of to-do’s you could easily work 24/7 on your business. One of the things to keep in mind is that you need to carve out time for yourself. Keep that time sacred. That’s your time to do things outside of your business that help keep you grounded and keep burnout at bay. The author of this article, for example, spends 20 minutes every morning meditating. Non-negotiable.

2. Exercise: Yes, we know, you’ve heard it before: Exercise can release endorphins, which can make you feel good and relieve stress. Additionally, steady aerobic exercise fuels the growth of neurons, increases BDNF (a neurotrophin that plays a big part in neuroplasticity, allowing us to handle unknown situations, think up creative solutions and adapt on our feet), it can help improve sleep quality, improve your posture…and more.

3. Start Your Day With Gratitude & Goals: We know how easy it is to wake up feeling stressed before even getting out of bed. This can lead to a day full of anxiety which is then projected on the others around you. How do you combat it? Take a few minutes in the morning to think about all the positive things in your life, even better, write it down if you’re a journal-er. Think about what is positive, what your goals for the day are, and think about a few things that make you happy. That’s it. This very small act can have such a ripple impact on your business and your personal life.

4. Remember to Delegate: Repeat after us…”You cannot do everything, you do not have to do everything.” Delegate. Think about the people in your life who can help alleviate some of  the strain – both from a personal aspect and a professional aspect. Delegate. Ask for help.

5. Connect With Other Entrepreneurs: Misery loves company – WE’RE KIDDING. Truly though, if you connect with other people who are going through similar experiences, you not only can gain useful advice, but also empathy. Being in charge is extremely isolating. Surround yourself with other business leaders in the same boat who can be a support to you. Finding a good mentor is also priceless.

6. Stay on top of Finances & Paperwork: Cashflow is obviously a major source of anxiety for entrepreneurs. If you take the time to do proper forecasting and stay on top of your financial position, it can alleviate your stress. You will know what to expect, when to pick up the pace, it’ll help you create contingency plans, and more.

7. Break Down Your Problems:  Identify what it is that is actually causing you stress. If you’re facing a task which looks impossible at first, we guarantee it’ll look much more manageable if you break it down, and face the task in smaller segments. We know this sounds elementary, but honestly it works.

8. Take a Vacation: According to Inc. Magazine vacations are key for founders. “Taking a vacation once every three months is an excellent way to reboot and relax. As a business owner, you are always thinking of ways to grow your business and take it to the next level, and that kind of higher-level thinking can begin to wear on you if you don’t take regular breaks.” Not only does it allow you to think bigger, but it helps you rest your body, reset your biological clock, and catch up on sleep.

Empowered Startups is an Innovative Startup Incubator and foundry headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. With offices in Canada, France, and Portugal, we train/mentor/ and network entrepreneurs to successfully launch new businesses in diverse markets. As a foundry we also conceive, build and launch our own products and solutions. Empowered Startups is recognized by the Canadian Government as a designated start-up business incubator and is known internationally for growing ideas into sustainable businesses using both a virtual and on-site model. Our training tools and mentorship are used and recognized by leading global university labs, Startup incubators, and innovation hubs. To apply for the Canada Startup Visa Program, visit:

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The Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream is now known as the the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

The Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream is now known as the the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

The Alberta Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream is now known as the the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream!

What exactly is this program?

The Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is an immigration program that nominates talented and qualified foreign educated graduates from outside Canada for permanent residence when they start-up an innovative business in Alberta. The Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream is a collaboration between the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) and approved designated agencies (that’s us).

Alberta is a fantastic home for Oil & Gas tech start-ups, crypto-currency and crypto adjacent innovation, agriculture tech entrepreneurship, software development, mining tech, fintech, environmental start-ups & more!

What is the eligibility criteria for this program?

  • Minimum of 6 months full-time work experience that can be a combination of actively managing or owning the business or equivalent (equivalencies are work experience with business incubator or business accelerator).
  • Completion of a degree from a post-secondary institution outside of Canada with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
  • The degree needs to have been completed within the last 10 years at the time of EOI submission
  • A business plan with projected financials. Refer to the Business Plan Guidelines.
  • A 10-minute presentation (slides only) that outlines the proposed business venture and focuses on what an investor would want to see.
  • Minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 5 for each English language skill or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) of 5 for each French language skill: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • Must have a minimum of 34% ownership if the business is located in an urban centre or a minimum of 51% ownership if located in regional area outside Calgary and Edmonton
  • A minimum level of investment from candidate’s (or spouse or common-law partner) own equity or from a recognized Canadian financial institution, venture capital, or angel investment firm prior to coming to Alberta.
  • Must have a letter of recommendation from an AAIP-approved designated agency (that’s us)
  • Candidates must demonstrate that they have the funds needed to set up their business and support themselves while they are on a work permit and launching their start-up.

Can I apply if I’m already in Canada or own a business in Canada?

Yes! If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can indeed qualify for this program! Foreign graduates who currently own and operate a business in Alberta can apply to the AAIP as a pathway for permanent residency. They must demonstrate they meet the criteria highlighted in the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream Points Grid and Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream mandatory minimums grid at the time of EOI submission. The established business must have operated in Alberta for at least one year immediately prior to submitting an EOI in the AAIP portal.

Are there businesses that don’t qualify for the program?

Ineligible businesses include:

  • any business in contravention of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations – for example, immigration-linked investment schemes or passive investment
  • businesses without a value-add economic component, including:
    • pay day loan, cheque cashing and related businesses
    • businesses trading in used goods
  • businesses that would be considered passive investment or lack active management, including: insurance brokerage or business brokerage
  • project based or seasonal businesses
  • home-based businesses, including:
    • businesses that are not zoned for commercial or industrial operations
    • bed-and-breakfasts and lodging houses
  • businesses that are part of a succession plan
  • businesses involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services
  • any other type of business that by association would tend to bring the AAIP and the Government of Alberta into disrepute, in the opinion of and as determined by the AAIP

If you’re interested in learning more about the Foreign Graduate Entrepreneur Stream or request more information here!

Portugal’s Visa Program That’s Attracting Incredible Entrepreneurs & SMEs From Around the Globe – It’s Not The Golden Visa

Portugal’s Visa Program That’s Attracting Incredible Entrepreneurs & SMEs From Around the Globe – It’s Not The Golden Visa

Most of us already know that Portugal is hands down one of the best countries in the world for expats – safety, ease of travel, English proficiency, fantastic weather, incredible beaches, great Universities for those of us with children, top notch healthcare, a pro-business growth climate, direct access to EU markets, and favourable taxation for business owners (there’s about 50 more reasons we could include but space and time for this blog are limited).

Because of all of these things, there are a huge amount of foreign born individuals residing in Portugal (which also equates to great supports for new arrivals).


The Portuguese government has taken a proactive approach to attracting foreign investors and entrepreneurs to Portugal. Portugal’s newest path to citizenship, the HQA Visa, offers a very stable opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs and investors to start their ventures in Portugal, and bring their families to the country. Unlike the Golden Visa, which has been under intense scrutiny from the European Union, the HQA Visa is specifically targeted at those with business skills and interests that can help drive Portugal’s economy forward.

“Anyone who is smart & accomplished, In all seriousness, this is the best option for EU residency for anyone who is an accomplished professional or SME in their field- whether that’s medicine, marketing, fintech, or crypto,” said Timur Sitdikov – Private Client Advisor in Specialized Immigration.

So why is this program so popular and how does it work?

This program is surprisingly simple and elegantly designed for business people. HQA applicants gain residency by founding a Portuguese business that is linked to a participating university in Portugal and hosted by an HQA business incubator (Empowered Startups). The HQA business incubator coordinates operations and administration on behalf of the founder, and the founder provides direction (as founders typically do). The HQA business incubator creates a custom-built plan for every founder – It’s very bespoke, and very much tailored to busy individuals with competing priorities.

The HQA Visa program is wildly popular because it is a true pathway to citizenship for legitimate business people to start a venture or invest in the European Union. The other investment scheme, Golden Visa, is not only under intense scrutiny right now, but also approvals for the Golden Visa program are seemingly at a standstill.

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If you’re interested in learning more about the HQA Visa or requesting more information, head to 

Read About The ‘Bitcoin Family’ Who Emigrated to Portugal for its 0% Tax on Cryptocurrencies – From CNBC

Read About The ‘Bitcoin Family’ Who Emigrated to Portugal for its 0% Tax on Cryptocurrencies – From CNBC

It’s not often we throw out a “We told you so,” but in this case we did! Have a look at this article coming out of CNBC this past weekend about how a family of cryptocurrency investors moved to Portugal due to their favorable taxation structure.

The article highlights:

Unlike the U.S., which treats virtual currency as property, taxing it in a manner similar to stocks or real property, Portugal views cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. That distinction is a game-changer with respect to taxes.

“Capital gains resulting from crypto transactions such as cashing out and crypto-to-crypto trades are not subject to personal income taxes,” explained Shehan Chandrasekera, a CPA and head of tax strategy at crypto tax software company

This means that gains from buying or selling cryptocurrency, as with other fiat currencies, are not taxed. It also means that crypto transactions or payments, as well as the exchange of bitcoin for fiat money, are not subject to a value-added tax, or VAT.”

Read the full article from CNBC Here for more information! 

Select here to sign up to receive more information about Portugal’s HQA Visa, which is a great fit for crypto investors looking to invest in a startup or start a new venture while also maintaining their crypto portfolio!

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Portugal’s Visa Program That’s Attracting Incredible Entrepreneurs & SMEs From Around the Globe – It’s Not The Golden Visa

Portugal HQA Visa Expert Laura Bock Blumes Featured in Sul Informação

Portugal HQA Visa Expert & Empowered Startups’ Managing Director of Europe, Laura Bock Blumes, has been featured in the February 2nd, 2022 issue of Sul Informação.

Blumes spoke with the Sul Informação about Portugal’s hottest investor immigration product – The HQA Visa Program.

Read the full article in both English & Portuguese here.

For more information on Empowered Startups, or to apply for any of our programs visit

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The Globe & Mail: Our Founder’s Thoughts On The New Normal

The Globe & Mail: Our Founder’s Thoughts On The New Normal

In late 2021,  The Globe & Mail asked executives of Canada’s Top Growing Companies to tell them how they’re preparing for an eventual return to normal. Our Founder, Paul Girodo was one of those executives.

Thought Leadership on “The New Normal” from Paul Girodo

“I’m concerned that companies and governments will pursue “return to normal” by expanding the consumption model loved by past generations. Clearly the world is no longer “normal.” How companies manufacture everything from energy to food to clothing to kids’ toys must change immediately.

Businesses and governments have helped create the climate crisis, but they also hold the power to quickly address it through regulatory capitalism.

My personal vision for worldwide sustainability features a business environment where companies and entrepreneurs make significantly more money from protecting, improving and promoting the natural environment than from doing the opposite. The right mix of capitalism and government legislation can save and protect ecosystems throughout the world while creating substantially more jobs than could be realized through aggressive natural resource uses.

If we “return to normal,” then humans will ultimately live in pain and conflict, and on borrowed time.”

For more information on Empowered Startups, or to apply for any of our programs visit

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