I’m addicted to start-ups. The thrill of turning an idea into a prosperous company is like euphoric high to my business bent brain.
My husband is always beckoning me to take a vacay from the start-up “zone”, and spend a little time each day in the realm commonly known as “reality”. Exchanging the excitement of an always demanding baby business, for the hum drum of day to-day life wasn’t a very attractive proposition; until, I collapsed on my office floor, flaming with a fever and unrelenting headache.
Weeks (and weekends) of round the clock investment into this startup project had certainly taken its toll.
Entrepreneurs often fail to recognize that their business (especially, a startup) can only be as good as they are. We get so caught up in building an asset, that we forget to “make deposits” into our most important asset—ourselves. If you’re an entrepreneur, who compulsively sacrifices your well being for the good of your enterprise, I want to encourage you to join me in this “Invest in Me” challenge.
Here are a few tips to safeguarding your biggest asset—yourself:
Let’s face it—few businesses were built on a full night’s sleep, three square meals a day, and long relaxing three day weekends. While those benefits usually accompany established enterprises, getting there takes a lot of hustle, long hours, and way too much caffeine.
Just like a vehicle, your body needs “fuel” to last the journey. Three sources of “fuel” for your body include: food, sleep, and exercise. Without receiving the necessary input of these three basic needs, your body will not be able to achieve peak performance. While staying up till 2 AM rolling out quarterly budgets, or catching up on last months’ invoicing, may help advance your short term goals, the negative effects on your health will readily hinder the days that follow.
Don’t have the time to eat healthy, score eight hours of sleep, and squeeze in a workout couple times a week? Assess your operation. Do you need to recruit additional help? Do you need to automate some of your formerly manually duties? Can you outsource a few responsibilities— social media, billing, janitorial, etc.—in a cost effective manner?
Take a Break
“I can’t go out of town this weekend,” I argued, “there’s so much to do!”
“You can go out of town,” my husband replied, “I promise you, it’ll all be here when you get back.”
We spent the weekend at the beach; my business was still humming upon my return.
Taking a break from the day to day operations of your business is essential for rejuvenation. It provides your mind with the much needed rest required to process information, and allows your innovative spirit to generate new opportunities beyond the four walls of your metro office. Such vacay time is essential for any entrepreneur planning a long tenure in adventurous arena of self-employment.
Can’t take a beach trip right now? Step out of the office, and take a 20 minute stroll. Unroll the yoga mat and let your tired mind journey to a peaceful place. Jump on your bike and take a quick cruise around the neighborhood. Sometimes the best thing we can do for our business is to take a break from it.
Just Say No
I didn’t always have opportunities falling in my lap. In fact, the first few years of my professional pursuits involved a lot of rejection, discouragement, and downright begging for ANY opportunity. As my career progressed, my instincts remained to take any—and all—opportunities that came my way; however, such tactics left me exhausted of all resources. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that the most important word in their vocabulary is very often the word, “No”.
- “No, I can’t do that right now.”
- “No, I am not available.”
- “No, I am not interested in that opportunity”.
As the visionary opportunistic treps we are, learning to say “No” may require quite the conscious effort. Acknowledge your limits, and cultivate the discipline necessary to say, “No, I can’t take anything else on right now”.
My first year in business, I was convinced that if “anything was to be done ‘right’, I must do it myself”.
In attempt to maintain my “standards”, I wore all the hats—inventory management, web design, delivery driver, accountant, customer service, etc. I quickly realized that for my company to grow into the profitable margins I’d planned, I had to incorporate additional man power.
As a devoted business owner, it can be difficult to hand the reins over to a less committed employee or professional when it comes to our personal venture. No one will do it “like you would”, but that’s okay. You can’t do everything, and scale a business. Learning to outsource many of the day to day duties of your operations is a ford that all entrepreneurs must cross in order to reap the benefits they are working so hard for. A one man show can’t hold the spotlight forever. Build your team and reap the benefits of empowering delegation.
I’ve been described as an “intense” person on more than one occasion. Even when not discussing business opportunities, my exhibited level of focus and energy is quite excessive to the norm. Thus, I find it quite difficult to simply, “chillax”—relax while doing absolutely nothing. Many entrepreneurs exhibit similar characteristics; we often obsess over our business because it’s the only thing in our professional life that can hold our attention for more than five minutes. Current events, popular entertainment venues, and day-to-day life often have us clamoring to “get back to the drawing board” and solve yet another societal problem through commerce. It’s hard to truly “check out”.
Acknowledging my own tendency to obsess (and at times, suffocate) my business, I prioritized involvement in two recreational hobbies that required a great level of commitment—distance running and dressage riding. Motivated by my goal oriented desire to reach a personal record time in the next 10k, or land a score in the 70’s on a First Level pattern, I channel the high degree of focus and energy into my hobbies.
Identify one or two hobbies that will help ease your mind from “work-mode” to “fun-mode”. Prioritize their demands, recognizing that such venues will provide exponential rewards in the realm of stress management. Don’t have a hobby from your youth, ready to be dusted off and debuted? Pick something new; something you’ve always wanted to try—cross country skiing, golfing, stand up paddling, quilting, etc.
Investing in yourself doesn’t just “happen”. It must be prioritized, pursued, and implemented with purpose. Oft times, we don’t realize how skewed our work- life balance was become, until we, quite literally, ”fall out on the floor”.
Don’t let today’s venture leave lifelong consequences.
You are your biggest asset; treat yourself as such.