Healthy Businesses Need Healthy Founders: Why Taking Care of Yourself First Means Your Business is More Likely to Succeed

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John Packham, WED |  It’s no secret that you need to bring your A-game every day you show up to run your business. What often happens is that busy business owners fall into the trap of letting their business run them, instead of the other way around. Despite their best efforts, well-intentioned business owners find themselves starting to let things slip through the cracks. Trading time for money is often the culprit and every minute you spend doing something that doesn’t bring in money is a minute wasted, according to some schools of thought. As a group, entrepreneurs are some of the hardest working people on the planet; but they are also some of the most stressed out, poorly fed, overworked, and sleep-deprived people on the planet too. If a business owner isn’t taking care of themselves, how can they expect to take care of their business?

Better Health Equals Better Decisions

We’ve all heard and headed the warnings that eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and engaging in cardiovascular and strength training exercise on a regular basis is the best way to ensure we live long and healthy lives. But how often do we apply that thinking to our businesses? Is there a correlation between taking care of yourself and succeeding in business? It seems as though there is. One article presented findings that showed when entrepreneurs take care of their health, they are better able to make decisions, think clearly, and deal with stress that arose in the workplace. Another study found that when people were connected to each other on a regular basis, they lived longer and healthier lives. Which strengthens the argument that many venture capitalists make that they invest in teams, not individuals.

Stop Trying to Multitask and Focus on One Thing at a Time

Another article presented by The Harvard Business Review demonstrated that the human brain is not designed to multitask, thus proving the point that founders and business owners cannot split their brain power between key components of their lives. They can only focus so much attention on either being healthy or being workhorses. But the article goes on to say that being healthy means you can be a better workhorse, even though exercise and work can’t really be achieved at the same time.

Plan Ahead for Success

An article in The Globe and Mail portrayed an image of a popular business personality who swears by the importance of taking care of yourself so that your business, or career, can shine through. Even when you are on the road, you need to be always planning for time to take care of yourself, and if that means getting up early or staying up late, ordering in special meals, or taking time out for a snack, you do it. Because your business, and your health, depend on it.

Physical and Mental Health Matter Equally in Business

There’s no doubt that when we are at our best, physically and mentally, we can succeed at a more rapid pace and we are happier overall. This should be non-negotiable for business owners. For new founders who are overwhelmed from the get-go, taking a little “me time” might seem like a crazy thing to do, but a lot of the research and opinion shows that it is vital to the success that so many of us chase after. Plus, you don’t want to be weighed down by bloating and unexpected illnesses when you are about to take the stage to pitch to a group of investors, right? Being in peak physical condition doesn’t have to be the goal, but being “healthy” should be part of the goal. After all, this can only help your business succeed; certainly, it would never hurt it. Plus, you might find that you are better at time management, negotiations, and more.

Pay Attention to All Aspects of Your Life and Business

If you are a founder or thinking of starting a company, start paying attention to your eating habits, how you feel in the morning, or how much sleep you get. You might find that making small changes in your routines can result in big changes – for the better – related to your health and your business. In fact, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that when people focused on improving just one area of their lives, the momentum established carried over into other areas of their lives. It seems likely then that if you are struggling with an area of your life unrelated to your business that your business is likely suffering in some way. It’s important to pay close attention to how you are feeling and how your health could be impacting your business so that both you and the business can live long and healthy lives.

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