Great Entrepreneurs, Questionable Health -- 4 Steps to Founder Fitness
Being an entrepreneur is all consuming, taxing on the mind, body and wallet. One thing that can get lost in the entrepreneur shuffle is any semblance of good health management, particularly around the holidays.
As an entrepreneur and someone managing a chronic illness (Crohn's disease), I never have the luxury to put myself last. So health management is something I think of all day, every day. But health management doesn't have to require so much effort.
Four common financial lessons can also be reinterpreted for entrepreneurs to achieve better personal health and in so doing achieve better business outcomes.
1. Don't ignore problems.
It's easy to put off dealing with large looming problems. But in business, managing the overall financial picture must be tackled.
Likewise managing major health issues promptly is wise. Blood pressure or cholesterol tests can produce scary results but they don’t cause problems only uncover them. It's critical to know where you stand before developing a course of action to improve your health (and finances).
2. Rely on data.
Data-based decision making is all the rage right now, thanks to some high-powered computers and algorithms that measure everything from website traffic, clicks, sales and bounces. Many entrepreneurs do A-B testing for their marketing campaigns to determine the best online strategy.
Now fitness trackers and other health wearables are creating a way for entrepreneurs to capitalize on their data-prone nature. The only way I know if I have moved enough on a daily basis is if I hit my metrics for steps. But beyond using activity trackers, there are other options for managing chronic illness, like glucometers or wireless BMI scales, that provide useful data.
When going into a big sales or client meeting, preparation is critical, as most entrepreneurs know.
Yet many businesspeople go through the week eating and drinking things that they haven’t really thought through. When tired in the afternoon, they find it easy to grab a soda for an immediate caffeine kick.
But as with closing that important sale, staying energized all day takes preparation. In my experience, drinking water the first thing in the morning helps increase alertness. A 2005 National Institutes of Health study produced data that backs my anecdotal evidence. The study looked at subjects deprived of water for 24 hours and those with normal water consumption and found that those without water felt more tired and less alert.
On-the-go entrepreneurs also need to think ahead about what they'll eat during the day. Google offers employees many options for free food in its company cafeteria. The company found, however, that making some small changes drastically affected what employees chose to eat.
As part of a study, Google moved M&Ms from clear to opaque containers, leading its 2,000 employees to consume 3.1 million fewer calories in the first seven weeks. The tech giant did the same thing for sodas. While water was kept behind a clear glass at eye level, sodas were put in the bottom drawer. This isn’t about depriving people of snacks. It's about making it easier for them to avoid poor eating decisions.
4. Leave the office.
To land a new client, keep an existing one or just find inspiration, entrepreneurs must make an effort to leave the office.
The same could be said when it comes to their health. A 2009 study in the Netherlands found that people who lived within 1 kilometer of a park or wooded area experienced less anxiety and depression than those who residing farther away. The National Institutes of Health also studied outdoor exercise, comparing it to indoor exercise, finding, according to The New York Times, that subjects scored "higher on measures of vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem and lower on tension, depression and fatigue after they walked outside." The same was not said for a control group that exercised inside.
So get outside every day. Whether it's just for 20 minutes to take a conference call, nature can be helpful to entrepreneurial bodies and minds.
As in business, entrepreneurs must take a no-excuses policy for their health. Results are what matter. And because they have busy schedules, entrepreneurs must take control of their health. Their businesses rely on it to survive.