Often as an entrepreneur, you put your health and sanity low on the list of priorities as scaling a business, inspiring employees and keeping investors happy take the front seat. But a founder or CEO's health is the most important indicator of success for a young business.
Cutting corners on sleep and exercise may be pardonable in the short term, but over time, being a leader means operating with confidence, strength and energy. The difference between nailing a pitch, or convincing a potential employee to jump ship and join you, is down to your personal wellbeing and operating from a space of surety. Imagine, would you invest in a business where the CEO appeared worn out or pessimistic? Here are five ways you can prioritise your wellness while running a business.
1. Have some digital downtime
Turn off your devices every night. Have you ever noticed that bouts of creativity, inspiration and those breakthrough moments happen when you go for a walk, perhaps in the shower, or other moments when your brain is not being reactive? This is key. Email forces us to be reactive rather than proactive and constructive. In order to come up with big picture solutions you need to spend time away from digital screens, every day. The best entrepreneurs know that turning off their phones and devices can be the way to create that new revenue stream, or solve that ongoing management problem. Not to mention it immerses you back into the real world, and strengthens your people skills.
2. Maintain your relationships
There are certain people, who with any luck and focus, will be with you no matter what, unlike your team members and investors, unfortunately. It is easy to forget sometimes that the business team around you is circumstantial, and that whether a venture exits successfully or fails, people will move on. What remains constant are the family and friends that are with an entrepreneur through all times. Make sure these relationships are a priority. Anecdotally, entrepreneurs and surgeons are meant to be some of the most difficult people to maintain a relationship with, so all the more reason to have a consistent focus on bringing your support network with you through the good and bad times of building a business.
It is the secret of many entrepreneurs from Steve Jobs to Arianna Huffington and even Ray Dalio, founder of the world's biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater. It is no longer just the touchstone of hippies, but embraced by many of the world's most successful CEOs. Meditation changes our reactions to stress, boosts our immune systems, and can create a sense of calm and surety in times when the outer world appears anything but stable or consistent. Like exercise, it is one of the rare parts of your day existing solely for your health and wellbeing. There is a reason seasoned entrepreneurs consider meditation one of the critical keys to their ongoing success.
4. Keep your eye on the bigger picture
Never lose your perspective. Will your delayed product release, or difficult board meeting matter to you in three years time? There can be so many immediate concerns when running a business, that you may forget why you founded your company in the first place, and lose sight of your overarching goals. In a word: don't. Hold on to what you consider most crucial, remembering that stressful board meetings or tricky team dynamics are all par for the course. In the end, what will matter is how closely you aligned with your vision, and the relationships you build along the way.
5. Talk to a Founder Whisperer
VCs are increasingly referring their portfolio CEOs to strategic coaches. In New York and Silicon Valley it's common practice. If not a business coach, perhaps consider anyone you can talk to confidentially about your goals and fears. Founding a business can be one of the loneliest paths to tread, especially during the times when you feel so much responsibility and pressure to succeed. Speaking to an impartial person who doesn't own stock in your company (as an investor or team member might) can help you work through strategic issues, and get outside your own head.
They say entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. And while we all run our own race, one of the essential elements to a venture's health, is the wellbeing of the founder. Each of these wellness tips will help you ensure your own mental clarity, focus and health remain a priority, in turn so you can best serve your other team members, shareholders, and young company.