If Start a Business tops your 2010 New Year’s Resolutions, make #2 Get in Shape. Launching a startup is taxing, both physically and mentally, so the better shape you are in, the easier the process will be.
Most entrepreneurs expect to work 60 plus hours a week on their new business. In reality, your startup will be on your mind 24 hours a day. The stress of being responsible for every aspect of a growing business can be overwhelming, and your average to-do list will likely have dozens of items that really should have been done yesterday. If you don’t take care of yourself, it will be difficult to sustain the energy and effort necessary to make your venture a success.
Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep each night is unlikely, but you do need to find a way to schedule time to sleep…and actually sleep during that time. If you are the type to have trouble sleeping under stress, figure out a method for separating work from rest. For some, simply scheduling an hour of downtime before bed is enough. Watching TV, reading a non-business book, walking the dog, playing with the kids, or any other activity that takes your mind off the startup can help. In addition, keep a notepad or small voice recorder by the bed so you can jot down any ideas or concerns that pop into your head at 3 am. Then, forget about them and go back to sleep! You can deal with them tomorrow.
It is very easy to forget to eat or to indulge in too much junk food when your full attention is on building a successful business. Make a point of eating regularly (that 5 small meals a day method works very well) and keep healthy options in the house or office. Drink plenty of water, especially if you are a soda or coffee addict. The caffeine might keep you going into the wee hours of the morning, but it will definitely impact your sleep and general health.
Most entrepreneurs spend the majority of their startup time in front of the computer doing research, developing the website, planning the venture. Hours and hours of sedentary work can do a number on your energy level. Schedule in time to work out at least 3 days each week…once per day is better. Even if you just take a walk around the block, getting your body moving will keep you healthier and feeling rejuvenated.
Take a Break
The stress of a startup is universal. No matter how fast or how slow the progress, the weight of the world is on you nonstop. It is critical for your own mental health that you take time out for yourself. If you don’t, your relationships will suffer, your hobbies will languish, and you may well reach a point where you hate the very idea of your business. Schedule time for your friends and family and to participate in activities you enjoy that are completely unrelated to the business. And, when you are feeling overwhelmed with what you have in front of you, take short breaks as needed. You are likely to be far less productive if you force yourself to keep at it than if you take fifteen minutes to clear your head.
Welcome to Entrepreneurship
Launching a new business is an adventure, and one that can be dangerous to your health. Taking good care of yourself should be as high of a priority as getting the business going. Once the venture is off the ground, you aren’t likely to have that much more free time, so the sooner you make a habit of taking care of yourself, the better.