A couple of years ago, I saw firsthand what can happen to a founder and their business when the founder practices unhealthy habits such as working 20 hours a day. A typical “Type A” personality with boundless energy and enthusiasm, she aggravated some previous health limitations until she was bedridden, and the business floundered.
Many entrepreneurs are too focused on their dreams to take notice of health warning signs, leading them to ignore business health signs. If you can’t remember the last time you had a relaxing evening with your spouse or read a book, your health may be in jeopardy. If your business won’t run for a day without you, then the company isn’t healthy either.
There is no single formula for how to stay healthy while starting and running an exciting but demanding new business, but here are a few suggestions, depending on your lifestyle:
- Stay fit and rested. You will have more energy and think more effectively if you are in shape and well-rested. In addition, you’re a role model for partners and employees. Actual job performance is more a function of productivity than hours worked anyway. If you have trouble motivating yourself to exercise, try a pre-workout supplement.
- Find a stress reliever. For some people, it’s quiet meditation, and for others, it’s a vigorous workout at the gym. Find something you enjoy that has nothing to do with your business. These will help you unleash your creative side.
- Work and family balance. Family-work balance is an issue that involves financial values, gender roles, career paths, time management, and many other factors. Entrepreneurs can be so focused that they ignore the family, resulting in an unhealthy situation for everyone.
- Regular medical checkups. No one is immune to random health concerns, and issues recognized sooner rather than later can often be treated with minimal lasting effect. Undiagnosed and untreated problems resulting from ignored or unknown symptoms are a health disaster well worth avoiding.
At the same time, don’t forget that there are things you must do to maintain the health of your business and send the right message to your employees on priorities:
- Reward employee health. Lead by example, of course, and encourage employees regularly to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Consider giving special recognition for sticking to a wellness program or sponsoring healthy team outings.
- Quarterly business reviews. Regularly, at least once a quarter, you must look hard at all your key metrics. Maybe it’s time to tackle a new geography or figure out how to exit some clients who are “high maintenance.”
- Quality improvements. Continuous improvement is the key to quality production. Make sure your processes are working. A constant increase in the quality of products and services, including more innovation and creativity, all lead to a healthier business.
- Improve customer service. Make sure all employees are empowered to provide the same customer service they would want for themselves and their own businesses. Measure how well you are doing with surveys and personal contacts.
Healthy companies need healthy employees and healthy processes. Workplace health promotion is not, as some might think, a charitable gesture towards employees but an investment in the company. It can be a life or death issue with you personally, as well as your company. Don’t wait, like my friend, until it’s too late.