New Data from Wave Shows 70% of Digital Entrepreneurs Carry Financial and Mental Burdens

Survey finds business finances are number one source of stress for more than 75% of digital entrepreneurs
Working parents face additional unseen burdens including higher stress levels, difficulty qualifying for loans

TORONTO, Feb. 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --  Wave, the one-stop money management solution for small businesses, today announced results of a study exploring mental health and well-being amongst U.S. digital entrepreneurs. The survey found that this subset of business owners, encompassing owners who have fewer than ten employees, and connect to prospects and customers primarily through online channels, face multiple hurdles to their mental well-being, from financial struggles to imposter syndrome, along with additional burdens faced by working parents.

The top contributing factors to mental health and stress levels are business finances (57%), followed by personal/family issues (49%), and work/life balance (47%). Access to funding (e.g. a grant, loan, line of credit) is the biggest source of financial stress among respondents, with 62% of business owners saying they’ve been turned down for funding. A recent report by the Association for Economic Opportunity cites systemic issues in microbusinesses’ ability to secure grants and loans, and points out that access to capital is a leading barrier to success. Grant programs can help address the funding gap, but community support and mentorship are also key to helping small businesses succeed.

Results also indicate the inextricable link between respondents’ personal identities and their work, with the vast majority (87%) citing that their own personal self-worth is tied to the success of their business. 

The survey’s results point to a need for solutions from both corporations and communities. With 1 in 4 people worldwide contributing to the fast growing creator economy, and a record-breaking 5.4 million new businesses formed in the U.S. alone in 2023 (a 56.7% increase from the number of new businesses formed in 2019), small business owners’ mental health is critical not only to business success, but to their ability to positively contribute to the overall economy. 

“Digital entrepreneurs, including the fast-growing creator class, are a unique segment of the small business economy, nurturing and monetizing their craft while also managing all aspects of owning a business,” says Zahir Khoja, CEO, Wave. “Our survey highlights the stressors that impact their well-being, many of them unseen from the outside. It’s imperative that corporations and communities step up to help foster a healthier and more sustainable creator class through grants, affordable technology and financial literacy.”

Noteworthy findings include:

  • Financial woes top the list: More than 75% of those surveyed are specifically stressed by their business’ finances. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) respondents said rejection from financial institutions for banking products or loans led them to feel that they are not a “real” business owner.

  • Economic conditions drive pricing decisions:  The vast majority (86%) of respondents are worried about the state of the economy, with more than half (56%) anticipating they will need to raise prices due to inflation.

  • Pressure to succeed leads to loneliness and imposter syndrome: Comparison to others, pressure to achieve overnight success, and commonly held stereotypes about entrepreneurs such as “Superhuman,” “Boss,” or “Hustler” are among the top contributors to feelings of self-doubt regarding abilities and talents. Additionally, most respondents (60%) report feeling lonely or isolated as a business owner at least some of the time. Of those who report almost always feeling lonely or isolated, nearly 7 in 10 (69%) find themselves using their devices for work outside of desired hours on a daily basis.

  • Working parents struggle the most. Working parents are more stressed by business finances than their childless peers. In fact, 43% of working mothers report feeling very or extremely stressed, compared to 34% of working fathers, and 29% of business owners without children. Working mothers in particular were least likely across all groups to report excellent mental health (15%). 

  • AI is seen as an efficiency-driver. The majority (74%) of respondents see artificial intelligence as an opportunity to improve their business. An increase in productivity (44%), less time spent on manual tasks (41%), and the ability to automate manual tasks (40%) are the top factors contributing to optimism. However, this optimism doesn’t come without reservations, with top concerns being infringing others’ copyright (33%) and decreasing the quality of their work (31%). 

Technology, funding and community support key to empowering entrepreneurs

Wave’s one-stop money management platform empowers small businesses with tools purpose-built for solopreneurs, creators, freelancers and more. In May 2023, Wave, in partnership with the Shorty Awards, launched the inaugural  Elevate Creatives Fund, designed to fuel creative entrepreneurship through a $120,000 USD grant that was recently distributed to six deserving recipients, including Alyson Stoner, founder of Movement Genius

"Shining a light on the struggles faced by small business owners is an important first step given the worsening mental health crisis among entrepreneurs," said Alyson Stoner, Founder and CEO, Movement Genius. "I created Movement Genius to address the mental health crisis by creating solutions for populations, including small business owners, with the highest markers of stress and suffering. As an entrepreneur myself, I’ve had to bootstrap my company and find creative ways to generate revenue. Grant programs offered by companies like Wave can make a meaningful impact, and lessen the financial burden felt by so many newly starting out in business.*” 

Research Methodology
Conducted by Researchscape on behalf of Wave, 1,087 U.S. business owners responded to a survey from January 22 to February 4, 2024 and answered a number of questions about factors impacting their mental health and stress levels. To qualify, respondents had to be majority owners in their own business, have fewer than ten employees, and connect to prospects and customers primarily through online channels. 

About Wave
Wave Financial Inc. ( provides one-stop money management for small businesses through a suite of tools that work together to support them at every stage of the ownership journey—from starting to surviving to thriving. Over 300,000 small businesses use Wave’s comprehensive platform which includes accounting, invoicing, payments and payroll software solutions, as well as advisory services. Wave has won awards for growth, innovation, and company culture, including KPMG Fintech 100, CB Insights Fintech 250, Canadian Innovation Awards (Financial Services), Canada’s Best Workplaces and many more. Wave is a subsidiary of H&R Block

*This testimonial is a paid endorsement

Media Contact for Wave:
Marsh Abraham
PR & Communications Lead