Surviving to Thriving: Why Entrepreneurs Need to Take a Break While entrepreneurs have helped our economy climb out of the Great Recession with their 'can do' attitude and strong work ethic, they may need to take a break to continue their innovative streak and perseverance.
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As a small-business owner you're probably the HR specialist, chief marketing officer, sales director and customer-service manager, among other positions. Every day, you work at least 12 hours and only take a break to catch a few z's. While many entrepreneurs view this as a way of life, it isn't the most productive approach. If you are always head down in the day-to-day responsibilities, you will not have time to set the vision for the future, to plan, to strategize and to think about growth. To thrive, entrepreneurs need to take a step back from working in their business to think about and focus on their business.
Here are five ways you can mentally re-charge, so you can move your business from the surviving to thriving stage.
Connect with family and friends. Starting and running a business is consuming. It takes everything you have, which means it can put a strain on your most cherished relationships. Make a commitment to spend more time connecting with family and friends.
For me, I make sure I am home by six during the work week so I can spend the evenings having dinner and talking with my wife and kids. I might sign back onto email after everyone goes to bed, but I do make sure I set aside time to connect with my loved ones.
Read books. As a business owner it is critical you educate yourself on the principles of leadership and organizational effectiveness. This mindset is not just for Fortune 500 executives, but it's also for ambitious small-business owners. Some of my favorite books are written by Jim Collins and include "Beyond Entrepreneurship," "Built to Last" and "Great by Choice." Also books on marketing, sales tactics and strategy are great for early-stage companies.
Meet with an advisor or coach. In your time away, turn to an advisor or coach who can serve as a mentor and help you work through business and life challenges. This person can help you solve a particular issue in your business, share fresh ideas or just challenge you to be a better version of yourself.
I take two hours every week to meet with my coach. This helps me break through issues and figure out solutions.
Invest in strategic planning. Dedicate time each quarter to focus on the strategic planning of your business. Prepare an agenda, bring an open mind and eliminate distractions during your strategic-planning meetings.
For me, I dedicate one day to focus on business by myself, one day to focus on life and family and two days to plan business strategy with our executive team.
Nurture your body and your spirit. Sometimes we devote so many hours to managing our businesses that we don't take care of our bodies. Why not spend some time hiking, swimming or other fun exercises that can give you time to think, while giving you a healthier body?
And to complement keeping yourself physically healthy, consider how volunteerism can further energize you. During your time off, segment some of that time to assist with a local group or cause that you're passionate about.
Whether you take half a day or two weeks, do take time away to think strategically and re-charge your brain and spirit. Delegate the management of your business to a capable employee or team of employees. Ensure your team knows their responsibilities and what you expect of them. If you've never taken time away from your business start in small steps and let that time grow.