Accountants and insurance brokers often advise business owners to “look after your assets”. They are usually referring to machinery and equipment, which they suggest you maintain and have regularly serviced. But in small business, often the most important asset is the business owner. Do we look after ourselves as though we are a valuable piece of equipment?
Usually not! Most business owners look after everything else and leave ourselves last. After all, we are optimists so we assume we won’t get sick or have any sort of injuries that will prevent us from working. Is this a wise plan? No. To plan for a long business life — long enough to reap the rewards — that means planning a long life for yourself. It’s easier said than done, I know. As a business owner myself, I often have to balance the needs of the business and clients against my own needs. However, looking after yourself makes good business sense.
How much does it cost you not to be working in your business for one day? If you are feeling poorly or a bit grumpy due to illness, what impact does this have on your customer service? And how does this affect sales or repeat business?
It’s time to focus on the positive impacts looking after yourself can have on your business. You will be in a better mood, have more energy, think clearer and enjoy it more. It makes sense that if you are healthy, then so is your business.
Here are ten tips for keeping the engine (you) in your business running in good working order!
1. Take time out
Take frequent holidays, at least one break every year. Four weeks is not an unreasonable amount for a business owner. Be proactive about booking your holidays — maybe block out time at the start of the year. A year can fly by so quickly that before you know it you have run out of holiday options, so schedule early. If possible take holidays at quiet times or when no one notices that you are on holiday! I find the Christmas and New Year break and Easter work well for me, but everyone’s work calendar is different. The most important thing is to plan for holidays; don’t wait until you are really burnt out.
2. Eat healthy meals
Have healthy snacks available and plan to eat well. Always make time for lunch, even if it’s ten minutes. Don’t skip meals.
3. Participate in activities that help you unwind
It’s important to give your brain a break from work. Find something that helps take your mind off your business, such as walking the dog at night, yoga or catching up with friends.
4. Exercise often
Being fit can help reduce stress and injuries. Whether you walk, jog, swim or book into a regular exercise class, it’s important to make this a priority. Exercise can give you that extra bit of energy to get more done.
5. Prevent illness
Prevent illness through health measures such as a regular massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and vitamins. We brush our teeth to keep them healthy, so incorporate activities that will keep the rest of you in good health.
6. Take time out to recover
This can be difficult when you have pressing tasks that need to be done, but you can shake a cold or flu a lot quicker if you take a day or half-day off when it first hits. In the long run, it makes good business sense to take the time to recover as soon as you are feeling unwell.
7. Talk things over
Being a business owner can be isolating. Having someone that you regularly discuss issues with is invaluable and really reduces stress. It could be a colleague, a mentor, a counsellor, another business owner or coach.
8. Work to task, not to time
Don’t get caught into the trap of spending time but not achieving. Try and focus on what needs to be done rather than how much time you need to spend working.
9. Make time for activities that energise you
Along with the ability to wind down, you also need to find activities that boost your energy levels. This might be socialising with friends, exercising or even reading a book on a couch. Find what energises you and do it often.
10. Connect with yourself
On a regular basis, ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” Are you carrying some tension? Feeling a bit stressed? Need more sleep? If you don’t feel at your best, try and organise an extra sleep in, a game of golf, time in the garden, an outing with the family, a shopping trip, or whatever feels like you time.