A million things are on the plate of the leader of a startup. You’re so busy, always working or thinking about work, that all of a sudden you realize you've been up 72 hours and haven’t had a real meal in who knows how long.
Ensuring that you and your team are healthy can make the difference in whether your startup putters out or goes the distance. Can you afford to take sick days or have the stamina to keep pushing the startup forward if you, your team and the company aren’t in tip-top shape?
Here’s how you can keep all members of your startup healthy so it can continue to grow:
1. Reduce entrepreneurial stress and stay focused. A startup's atmosphere can be absolutely chaotic and overwhelming, which can lead to a business leader becoming stressed out. You may have tricked yourself into thinking you're as cool as a cucumber, but deep inside the stress of the entrepreneurial lifestyle will eventually catch up with you.
Maybe you think being stressed out isn’t that big of a deal. But stress can affect the body in ways you may not be aware of. You might make poor judgments more frequently, become irritable or sick more often or develop bad eating habits. Stress can can harm you "physically, emotionally, and psychologically," according to a Harvard Medical School special report on stress.
One of the best ways to handle stress is to take time to relax and stay physically fit. I have found after taking a break, I get almost three times the amount of work done. I rid myself of stress by getting a massage, watching a movie or taking a 15- to 30-minute walk. Harvard Men's Health Watch has cited a boost to mental sharpness after exercise.
To lessen stress, stay focused on the task at hand. Remember why you wanted to start a business and where you want to take it. Keep your mission statement nearby: It will guide you when a million thoughts fly through your mind.
Focusing on a task has been a trusted method for individuals such as Google co-founder Larry Page, film director James Cameron, author Stephen King and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, as a TED talk revealed.
2. Be organized. With just 24 hours to each day, there's not enough time to complete everything you need to accomplish. This is why you must be organized (to better use the hours you have).
Set a schedule and stick to it. Wake up at the same time each day so your body adjusts to a routine. Eat, exercise and blog at the same times every day. This will make your life easier since you will have established some modicum of control, which could help relieve stress. Tools like Skype, Evernote, Basecamp and Google Apps can help you keep things organized. I used to set an alarm four times a day to remind myself to eat.
Be sure that all the company's paperwork is in order. Your startup won’t go very far if you’re not regularly paying employees or monitoring the budget.
3. Set goals and deadlines. When you establish clearly defined goals that are measurable, you can easily track your firm's success and stay focused on its direction. If you don’t know your end goal, your firm will never arrive where you want it to be!
Write down and establish daily goals for tackling what you want to accomplish six months or a year from now. Goals are an important part in keeping your startup healthy and growing.
Indulge in a reward after completing a goal. I love to go to my favorite gelato place down the street or get a couple's massage with my wife. Be sure to choose a reward that is worth working hard for.
4. Create a comfortable work environment. While your startup may be limited in its finances, the workplace should be efficient and comfortable. How much work will get done if everyone in the office is freezing or sweating? If an employee has asthma, then humidity, mold or cold air could be problematic.
Spending a bit more to create a comfortable (and inviting if possible) work environment will ensure that work gets done and employees don’t mind going to the office.
5. Steer all employees away from sickness. Otherwise productivity suffers. Lost productivity as a result of health concerns costs American employers 225.8 billion a year, the CDC notes.
Encourage or even provide healthful snacks. Eating fruits and veggies strengthens the immune system, boosts energy and combats obesity and heart disease.
Exercise can make people happier, build a stronger immune system and help battle stress, according to U.S. News & World Report. It also benefits the brain by preventing memory loss and helping to improve learning. This is probably why Cisco Systems, Intuit, Hasbro and Chesapeake Energy have amenities like gyms, pools and rock climbing walls, according to Business Insider.
Finally, provide time for the people involved with your startup to relax or blow off steam. This helps them deal with stress. Nap pads, yoga classes or wine pours are all great ways to keep employees calm and collected.