My personal life has been dramatically affected, but professionally it’s been business as usual for me. I’m already self-employed and as a work-from-home mom (WFHM), so while others have hit huge bumps trying to transition to the remote work routine, I’m already used to it. After getting over the initial shock, fear, anger, and confusion of being told I had to stay home, I settled in nicely. Or so I thought.
I threw myself into my work and just pushed harder to take everything I was doing to new heights. Whether it was running the business or parenting or fitness – I threw myself in head-first and didn’t look back. Of course I did, because I’m an entrepreneur.
The “Problem” with Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs are Type-A personalities – go-getters with a drive to make things happen. We keep long hours and pour everything we have into what we do. So, in the midst of economic uncertainty with unemployment climbing it’s natural for us to just push harder. Work harder and longer and faster.
Like many Americans I found myself exploring new hobbies. I bike regularly to stay in shape, but with fitness apps offering free access to streaming classes I decided to try some spinning classes. Initially, the verbiage was foreign to me, but as I picked it up the concepts were familiar. “Gear up” referred to increasing resistance on the bike. “Cadence” referred to keeping a consistent pace. A “ladder” referred to incrementally increasing resistance. This lingo was basically the fitness version of my day-to-day work as an entrepreneur. Take on more difficult challenges, work faster, keep challenging yourself to avoid getting comfortable and squeeze every last little bit out of whatever you have. And while this mindset might work for jocks, the pandemic has finally made me realize that this may not be the healthiest approach for entrepreneurs.
You see, the danger of being an entrepreneur when it feels like everything is falling apart around you is that you’ll keep the pressure on yourself to keep striving for more. And while that can generate business results, it’s not healthy to maintain indefinitely because no matter how much you achieve, you never feel like you’re finished. Chasing a constantly shifting finish line causes burnout, which hurts everything from company culture to revenue potential. As a solopreneur, this is even riskier because the business is tied up entirely in you.
An Entrepreneur’s Solution
So, how you do you combat your natural inclination to take on too much, go too far, try too hard, put too much of yourself into something?
- Say No
If I’ve learned anything from this stay home mandate, it’s that I can say no to things that don’t add value to what I’m doing or feed me personally. You don’t have to say yes to an introduction over coffee just to be polite or a conference call that you’re not needed on just to feign support. You can choose to prune your friendships as well to avoid mental drain from those people in your life that just take without giving anything back. And most importantly, you don’t have to be guilty when you say no.
- Talk to Someone
A therapist or a mentor can help you work through the struggles, emotions, and hang-ups that are holding you back. A trained listener will offer impartial advice and guidance when you need it, which is absolutely invaluable for entrepreneurs. The brain is a complex piece of machinery, let someone help you take it apart and tune it to help you grow.
- Make Time for Rest
I’m terrible at relaxing. My natural inclination is to keep moving and get things done – all the time. Balancing a family and a business does have a lot of challenges, but everyone needs rest sometimes. Build some down time into each day or week or month to practice self-care, restfulness, and mindfulness. There are endless resources out there to help you get started and to keep it up.
- Get Outside
Fresh air is crucial. Get outside and move around. You don’t have to set goals and measure your performance – just get into a new space and breathe. Sunshine and fresh air is a mood lifter and can help you reset when you’re feeling stressed.
I’ve found a lot of success in trying these approaches, but I know other entrepreneurs swear by reading help books from popular business figures, attending leadership retreats, going to recurring industry conferences, and networking regularly. Whatever you do, invest in you. Prioritizing yourself is the surest way to cultivate happiness and improve your professional potential as well.
What works for you? If you’d like to share some more tips, I’d love to hear them. Comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and two children and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!