Self-care and the startup
Enough of the forced 9-to-5. No more awkward commuting or meeting arbitrary deadlines or seeing other people taking advantage of your hard work. You’re taking an option that’s become incredibly popular in the internet age: you’re launching a startup. Firstly, congratulations are warranted. No matter how great your plan is, starting a business is still a brave move.
Secondly, though, you need to think about how it’s going to affect your health. Most business owners just get started and think they can get somewhere with determination alone, but determination isn’t infinite. Anyone can burn out. To avoid that happening, you must have a plan for protecting your mental and physical wellbeing. Here are my top tips for startup serenity:
Take extensive advice
Going into business for yourself doesn’t mean you need to work confined to a room with no creative input from anyone. You might feel under pressure to prove yourself by going it alone, but there’s no sense in that. Plenty of others have already been through the startup process and can give you some invaluable tips for handling it gracefully and effectively.
What’s more, all the best entrepreneurs know the importance of listening to smart people before making any major decisions. Imagine the stress involved in making a big mistake and finding a way to fix it. Now think about how much easier it would be to simply avoid that mistake in the first place. When your friends and acquaintances offer to help, accept and appreciate it — and find a mentor if you can.
Automate and outsource
Technology is your biggest weapon, particularly if you’re trying to run a solo operation (which isn’t at all uncommon now). Instead of manually working through a huge pile of tasks, you can use automation and outsourcing to breeze through the basics of your workload — leaving you with a core set of vital high-level tasks and enough free time to stay sane.
At a minimum, you should use whatever free automation tools have value for your operation. I suggest tools like these, with many comparing favourably to paid alternatives: for instance, there’s little in Microsoft Office that you can’t achieve through Google Docs, and the existence of a fully-functional free tier makes Wave a great substitute for Quickbooks.
If you’re willing to spend some money, then you can invest in more complex automation, or even start to outsource simple tasks through sites like Fiverr. The more work you take off your plate, the easier you’re going to find it to cope with the stress of being the boss.
Look after yourself
Lastly, don’t forget to look after yourself in every possible way: for instance, you should maintain a healthy diet, get regular exercise, make time to see your friends and/or family members and protect your mental health however you can. It’s so often the case that an entrepreneur gets so caught up in the success of their startup that they forget about these things, and it never ends well — it ramps up their stress, heightening the risk of burnout and causes their work to suffer.
If you do what we’ve looked at here and still find that you just can’t cope with the intensity of your business schedule, then you should rethink the entire thing. Perhaps the operational model just isn’t sustainable. Maybe it’s not what you really want to do. Even if you shut the whole thing down, it won’t mean you’re done as an entrepreneur, because maybe you’ll come up with a better idea and create a new startup that’s vastly easier and more enjoyable.
On the whole, though, remember the importance of the work/life balance. Don’t give up a frustrating and inflexible office job just to build a frustrating and inflexible startup. Take your time, relax as much as you can, and build something that can really last.
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