Which Comes First, You or Your Startup? How to Balance Both

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When 100 percent of your time is dedicated to making your business successful, it’s not easy to give your most important employee -- a.k.a. you -- all the attention she needs. Here’s how to do it.

By Jenn Aubert (Author, “Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!”)

While launching and growing a business, often you put yourself last on your list of priorities. You wake up with a mile long to-do list and fall into bed at night completely exhausted. If you’re able to sleep at all, you wake up the next day excited — sometimes overwhelmed — to start all over again.

If you’re a business owner, you are not just the founder and the CEO -- you also hold several other titles that you’re not compensated for. But you knew the deal. You embraced this reality before becoming an entrepreneur because hard work often leads to success! You knew following your passions would most likely mean some sacrifices -- that’s what daring adventures are all about!

But of all the things you juggle and prioritize daily, don’t put your health at the bottom of the list. The health of your business relies considerably on your own personal well being.

Here are four ways to take care of you so that you can dedicate your best self to growing your startup and making your business successful.

1. Prioritize and Say No

Ruthless prioritizing is critical to business success and vital when it comes to taking care of yourself. It’s important to determine your priorities and what you most value.

If you value your health and well being, you need to make sure they’re at the top of your list each day of the week. Often ruthless prioritization demands that you say “no” more often than you say yes.

Most women, in an effort to be helpful and keep up certain social and professional graces, agree to take on more than is physically possible. It’s a hard habit to break, but to accomplish your business goals and maintain a healthy vibrant life you’ve got to learn how to say no.

Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio, a lifestyle design company that was acquired last year by Wayfair.com, believes that saying no is a crucial business and life lesson. Even after many years of success, it still takes an effort on her part to decline certain offers and commitments. She recommends practice to help make prioritizing and saying no easier.

2. Don’t Sacrifice Your Rest & Relaxation

While interviewing over one hundred successful women entrepreneurs for my book, one thing most women admitted was being in short supply of was sleep. They often sacrificed sleep — sometimes for years — to grow their companies and in some cases to spend more time with their families.

When I asked Mia Bauer, co-founder of Crumbs, how she was able to grow her cupcake empire, take it public, then sell it -- all while raising two small kids -- she admitted that sleep wasn’t a priority. She was often baking late into the evening and morning and working the business during the day.

Her temporary sacrifice paid off. But sleep is vital for good health. Short-term sleep deprivation may lead to memory and cognitive impairment and decreased performance while long-term sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, depression, and heart attacks (the #1 killer of women). In the short term you may sacrifice a few hours here and there but don’t make a long-term habit of it.

3. Get Moving

Although sleep was dropped to the bottom of their self-care list, the one thing that many successful women entrepreneurs do make time for is exercise. Exercise is their antidote for stress and keeps them performing at their best.

Mauria Finley, founder and CEO of Citrus Lane and an avid runner, makes time for running while growing her company and caring for her family. She is not alone.

In nearly all the one hundred women I spoke to, they prioritized exercise several times a week by running, swimming, hiking and taking yoga, Pilates and spin classes. Whatever you love to do, make the time to go out and do it.

4. Find Small Opportunities for Self Care

What small things can you do to take care of yourself? You don’t need to run off to Canyon Ranch for two weeks to recharge (although that is always a plus) byt you can still schedule weekly dates with friends, take a soothing bath, book a pedicure or a massage, or simply take yourself out for coffee with a good book.

I’ve heard of people working hard for three months and then taking one full week off each quarter to fully disconnect and recharge. Whether it’s something you do daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, explore what rejuvenates your mind and body and schedule it.

It’s easy to neglect your health and well being while launching and growing a business. Many women believe they don’t have the time to add self care to their already packed calendars, but if you value your health -- and the health of your business -- you don’t have any other choice than to prioritize and find the time. It’s there — you just have to make the effort to look for it.

How else do you make time for yourself while you’re growing your business?


About the guest blogger: Jenn Aubert is an author and entrepreneur. Her first book, “Women Entrepreneur Revolution: Ready! Set! Launch!” (Balboa Press, 2014), explores the mindset, motivation, and behaviors of successful female entrepreneurs and the role models in their lives who have influenced them. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and adorable son. You can follow her adventures at: www.jennaubert.com.