Deciding to start a business is a conscious decision to enlist yourself to “the struggle.” The struggle is what every entrepreneur faces as they navigate the ups and downs of running a startup. While it can be fun and empowering, it also sucks the life right out of you. If you’re lucky, it will have all been worth it.
My experience starting and running Uberflip, a SaaS marketing software company, is unique of course, but like most entrepreneurs, I continue to battle these “struggles” along with the stress that comes with them. And stress -- a fact of life for all entrepreneurs -- if not dealt with effectively, can be detrimental to your well-being.
Since there’s no realistic way to avoid stress for entrepreneurs, learning to live with and manage it is the key to survival -- otherwise you and your startup are bound to crack.
Below are simple tips for helping manage stress by staying healthy both in body and mind:
1. Never, ever work for free.
You're worth more than that, and it's not scalable. Nothing is more stressful than having zero income. Even if it’s a small amount, knowing you’re building a business that’s actually paying you to be there will give you peace of mind.
2. Give yourself a break.
All the little tasks and decisions we have to make every day gradually deplete our psychological resources. So every day -- no matter how busy you are -- leave the office for at least a 30-minute break. It can be to grab a coffee, eat lunch or just take a walk around the block. It’s a proven way to sustain concentration and energy levels throughout the day.
3. Go on vacations.
If you can't leave the office for at least a week stretch without the place falling apart, you'll never scale. It all comes back to finding great people so when you need to, you can shut down. As your company grows, hire people that you trust to keep day-to-day operations going as you take the time to reboot.
4. Get about eight hours of sleep every night.
Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight and mind, among other things. Ideally, you want to aim for about seven to nine hours. Less than that has shown to have deleterious effects on basic cognitive functions like memory and attention span. Getting enough sleep also helps you "practice" skills learned while you were awake (a process called consolidation).
5. Make sure you exercise.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that trigger positive feelings in the mind and body. Despite the fact that everyone knows exercise is good for you, the biggest excuse is lack of time.
The reality is that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym. There’s a growing body of evidence that shows short, high intensity interval training has as much (or more) benefits as prolonged workouts. I like to use an app called Seven which guides you through a 7 minute workout that gets your heart pumping. And yes, staying active will also help you get you your 8 hours a night.
6. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Entrepreneurs tend to think they can do everything and one of the biggest challenges is learning to let go. By getting out of the way, you can free yourself from managing every day-to-day task so you can stay focused on the big picture, not every minute detail.
A key part of this is ensuring that communication is constantly flowing between you and your team. At Uberflip, we have a standing Monday morning meeting that keeps me and my team focused on the right areas of the business. This helps prioritize and delegate what needs to be done.