Article by: Andrew Arnold as published on Entrepreneur Middle East
There’s an emotional toll to entrepreneurship that many people don’t talk about. Many entrepreneurs struggle to create a proper work/life balance. They feel pressured constantly, and even suffer from health issues because they neglect self care. This can impact businesses. Statistics show that 8% of businesses move towards failure when founders burn out. Entrepreneurs are also at a higher risk when it comes to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and addiction.
What’s going on? Much of the stressors that entrepreneurs feel come from lack of investment in themselves. They focus the majority of their money, time and energy on their team and the businesses they are trying to grow. All too often, nothing is left for them. To prevent burnout and to stay on top of their game, it’s imperative that entrepreneurs invest in their own professional development, relationships, emotional well-being, and physical health.
For entrepreneurs, nurturing personal relationships is key
When Mark Zuckerberg’s daughter was born, he made the decision to take two months of parental leave from the company he founded. Yes, that’s likely an easy decision for someone who is astronomically wealthy. It’s not a decision someone can easily make if they are struggling to launch a small business. Still, his decision was likely a smart one for both himself and his company.
Entrepreneurs who spend time with friends and family, are less likely to burn out. By prioritizing these relationships, they create a source of support that they can rely on. To do this, as an entrepreneur, you have to put in enough effort to keep relationships healthy. This includes:
• Prioritizing family time.
• Not allowing work struggles to negatively impact personal relationships.
• Keeping a flexible schedule to maximize family time.
• Unplugging in order to maximize connections with loved ones.
Entrepreneurs may not be able to spend the ideal amount of time with the people they love. Still, the notion that family and friends must be sacrificed to start a successful enterprise is a myth. By taking the time to nurture relationships, an entrepreneur can ensure they have the support they need when times get tough.
Entrepreneurs must prioritize self care and personal well being
Arianna Huffington says, “The Western workplace culture -exported to many other parts of the world- is practically fueled by stress, sleep deprivation and burnout. Even as stress undermines our health, the sleep deprivation so many of us experience in striving to get ahead at work is profoundly -and negatively- affecting our creativity, our productivity and our decision making: The very things entrepreneurs need in order to succeed.”
She’s correct. Somehow, burning the candle at both ends, has become something to boast about. But this should not be the way to go. “People seem to wear lack of self care as a badge of honor,” said David Lojko, co-founder of Earn2Trade. “Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. No entrepreneur is invincible. They are susceptible to the same health problems as anyone else when they are stressed out, sleep deprived, don’t get regular medical care, or fail to stay in shape.”
Further, entrepreneurs often serve as role models to the people they work with. If they are modeling an unhealthy lack of self care, that’s what employees will internalize. This can result in an increase of both absenteeism and presenteeism.
Fortunately, all of this can be avoided. The solution is simple, although not always easy. Entrepreneurs simply must take their well being seriously. This means eating right, getting enough sleep, going to doctor’s appointments, and working out.
Entrepreneurs should be vested in professional development
It’s common for entrepreneurs to encourage their team members to further their educations, and to grow in their professions. Sometimes, they even fund those efforts. That makes sense. A well-trained workforce is a benefit to any business. Unfortunately, what often gets lost in all this is the simple fact that entrepreneurs need to invest in their own development as well.
“It’s one thing to delegate to your team,” said Lee Whitbread, CEO of MoneyPug. “It’s another thing entirely to let your skillset fall behind. When it’s time to jump in and assist with an urgent project or solve a pressing problem, the whole team can suffer when the boss has outdated skills. Staying up to date will earn the respect of your team and others in your industry.”
Then there’s shifting market needs. If your education and skills aren’t up to date, you’re less likely to understand upcoming trends or how to pivot to meet them. There’s little to no excuse not to continue your education either. There’s a plethora of free and inexpensive education available on the web.
There are also plenty of options for entrepreneurs who want to pursue a formal education such as a Masters in marketing or other discipline. It’s very possible to find a flexible, online degree program that will fit the schedule of a busy entrepreneur.
No business is going to succeed with a founder that is in poor health or reeling from damage to their personal relationships. If you own your business, it is imperative that you take care of yourself, and that you continue to develop professionally.