It’s believed that recruiting and keeping the best employees is the biggest challenge for a small business. The benefits of retaining talent are well documented. However, the issue of owner burnout and leader retention is far riskier to a business than employee burnout.
According to CNBC, burnout is one of the most common reasons that businesses fail. When you don’t take care of yourself, your business is at risk of becoming less profitable, or worse. One in two small businesses fail within five years of opening, and research shows that burnout and exhaustion are contributing factors.
One of our members expressed to me that they believed their health and the health of their business are not separate. Even if your business remains profitable in the midst of feeling like you’re running on empty, a constant level of stress and anxiety can have long-term health consequences. While threats to our health are inevitable, practicing self-care can help limit the risks to our business. Plus, practicing wellness actually promotes productivity.
When you don’t have time to do everything you want to grow your business, how can you make time to care for yourself? Turns out it isn’t as hard as you might think.
Self-care doesn’t have to mean adding more to your list. Simply swap out existing habits with new habits. To keep you and your business healthy, try introducing the five tips below into your regular routine.
I recognize the need for small-business owners and entrepreneurs to have a community -- that’s why I do what I do every day. Jim Brunberg is the owner of three local businesses in Portland, Oregon, (Mississippi Studios, Revolution Hall and Roam Schooled) and a Townsquared member. As an entrepreneur, Brunberg describes himself as a “lone wolf,” but even he agrees that business owners are stronger together.
Reporter Jennifer Worick identifies as a reluctant extrovert and socializer, but her recent article in The Seattle Times states that, “networking and personal connections are more important than ever [in our contemporary economy].” When you’re the one making all of the decisions, the success of the company falls on you. Connecting with others who know exactly what you’re going through is important, and our social connections have as much impact on our long-term health as eating well or quitting smoking.
2. Take a class.
Mastery of a new task or object can improve your cognitive functioning. Budgeting enough time to attend a business course is not feasible for everyone all the time. In the long-term, being proficient in a new program could land your business on the cutting edge of a business trend, so the short-term investment of time could have long-term payoffs.
3. Get active.
Beyond just improving your physical health, recent research has demonstrated how exercise improves your mental health and can prevent the symptoms of burnout. Rather than sitting in a conference room, I try to take walking meetings. Sometimes I take phone meetings on the move. I’ve found that committing to taking 30-minute walks three times per week is a reasonable goal.
4. Set a bedtime.
Creating a balanced business budget, working out wages, preparing a business plan to get a loan… There will always circumstances and tasks that will compete with the need for sleep. But the consequences of going without sleep in the long-term are significant, including obesity and diabetes, mental health issues and cardiovascular disease.
And the cost to your business may be even higher. Health.com reported a study by Harvard Medical School that suggested sleep deprivation costs the US economy $63 billion a year due to lost productivity. Lack of sleep significantly reduces your level of work output and decreases innovation. One late night can easily turn into a week of late nights; commit to a time you will go to bed. Then set an alarm on your smartphone for when you’ll go to sleep (and when you’ll wake up). Use this bedtime as a deadline to keep you on track for completing tasks and ending your work day.
As a small-business owner, there will be moments when you’re unsure whether you should be laughing or crying. The Mayo Clinic recommends laughing, because it’s a great form of stress relief. Laughter stimulates many organs, activates and relieves your stress response, and soothes tension. Turn on a movie for some comic relief, watch a silly YouTube video or talk to a friend whom you think is funny.
It can feel strange at first to think about self-care as a business goal, especially if it means allocating time away from tasks that you normally associate with productivity. However, in the long-term you will find that your business thrives when you do.