The life of an entrepreneur can be very demanding, working long hours, taking huge financial risks, leaving the safety net of a steady job, having others depend on you for their income, or producing a return for investors to name a few. We often experience many sleepless nights of worry and commonly don’t take the time to eat right and exercise as we prioritize business success above our personal needs, putting self-care off to a future date when we will “have more time”.
Many people state that one of their top reasons for starting their own business is to “create more freedom” in their lives, but often find out that the opposite holds true for entrepreneurs. As new a business, we juggle many roles as we suddenly find ourselves as our own accountant, marketer, salesperson, technical expert, web site builder, social media influencer and the list goes on and on. We keep hearing that most businesses “fail in the first 5 years” and we start to see why, as there does not seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the tasks necessary to be successful.
Failure is not an option for most entrepreneurs, so we double down on bad habits and put off self-care, fooling ourselves with milestone dates in the future. I will take time to care for myself when; “I pay these bills”, “I close this next sale”, “I build this web site”, “I finish this next project”, “I do my taxes”, “I make enough money to pay an assistant”. This list is never ending, and there will always be the next milestone in the life of a business owner.
Having experienced working like a crazy person 10 years ago when starting my own business. I wore all the sleepless nights, eating fast food, hundreds of days without a day off, lack of self-care like a badge of honour as it felt like a rite of passage for every new business owner. I remember getting extremely defensive if anyone suggested I slow down and take better care of myself as back then I would say, “I don’t know any other way to start a business, sacrifices need to be made!”.
Learning the hard way is still learning if you can take away the lessons and after a few years I did take the advice of others. I started to take better care of myself by starting running, meditation, daily inspirational reading, time in nature and I noticed something magical happened. My increased amount of self-care almost had a direct correlation to my increased business success.
Personal Body/Mind/Spirit Health Growth = Overall Business Success
I was reminded of one of the very first personal development books I had read back in the 80s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey and in it, he references the Aesop’s fable about the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs. In the fable, a greedy Countryman killed his prized goose to get more golden eggs as he was impatient and was not getting rich fast enough on only one egg per day. As entrepreneurs, we are the goose of our own story and the eggs represent are our potential for businesses' success.
Here are the top three “golden eggs” I received once I prioritized and incorporated self-care into my daily business life:
In business, it can often be difficult to know where to spend your time, money, and energy for maximum impact. Taking a healthy time for yourself will often give you some space away from your daily business demands and provide clarity to the tasks at hand. As you prioritize and balance your personal life the path forward for your business venture will often come into sharp focus. As entrepreneurs, we want to say YES to everything out of fear of missing an opportunity. But coming from a place of a balanced and healthy life, it will become easier to say no when needed and make available precious resources for the YES that aligns with a health-based business strategy.
For many businesses we are often called to be creative, from product design, marketing to solving tough challenges. Our ability to be creative can and often will be the maker or breaker of our business success. We are drowning in information as we research options, investigate the competition, and listen to feedback. But many of the “ah-ha” moments will come when you take time to yourself. Time spending in nature, riding a bike, going for a walk, yoga, or quiet meditation (to name a few). It is often during these moments, and when we least expect it that the next great idea for a new product or an unexpected path forward spontaneously comes to mind.
In business, we need a support team, both personally and professionally. As a business person, I find that the quality of my relationship circles improves as I invest in the quality of my relationship with myself. As we grow in mind, body, and spirit we inspire and positively impact those around us. They say we are the average of the 5 people we allow closest to us. This rings true in business as we invest in ourselves, we become more selective around who will allow in our inner circle knowing they directly impact our overall personal and business wellbeing.
We all have it in us to be successful in our business ventures, what is often holding us back is a fog of confusion and an uncertainty of what to do next and where to spend our precious resources. As a health-focused entrepreneur, you put yourself first and treat yourself as the most important resource of the company. From this place of growth, the path forward will become clearer, you will find your inner creative genius and the quality of your teams will improve dramatically. We all often get off a healthy path, but next time it happens and it will, just ask yourself…”Am I killing the goose?”. If so, take a pause and move yourself back to a healthy path and let the goose live to see another day.
David W Fyfe
Business Consultant and Trainer