The best strategies out there
It’s paradoxical, and frustrating too: people often become entrepreneurs to escape the rat race and enjoy more flexibility with their work, then end up conspicuously lacking that dreamt-of-freedom and more stressed than ever.
Of course, they do technically have more freedom; at least when you start out with a business, there’s no one breathing down your neck telling you what to do and how to do it. But this is replaced with a huge amount of responsibility and need for discipline to figure out what needs to be done and do it. It’s not surprising entrepreneurs tend to work longer hours than conventional workers, since they have to cover all aspects of a business that a typical employee might not even have to think about. So how do you find balance while keeping your business afloat, especially in the hectic times when its survival is hit or miss? Here are our best strategies.
1. Socialise – outside the start-up ecosystem
It’s all too easy to spend both your working and recreational time inside the start-up bubble. Because of the Silicon Valley culture that’s leaked into other start-up spaces around the world, you’re performing even when you’re not at work. Every social event becomes an opportunity to network, to promote your business. That’s not a healthy way to socialise. Even though you could probably go to a hackathon every week of the year (and drown in a sea of buzzwords along the way), for your mental health it’s crucial to have friends outside that whole scene with whom you can have a laugh about the absurdity of things every once in a while. Outside perspectives are very important so that your whole world doesn’t become an echo chamber.
2. Keep up (unrelated) hobbies
Sure, read business books and go to the gym to keep fit. But that’s not what we mean. Take up interesting hobbies, especially ones that are totally new to you – if you’re a sports entrepreneur, take up knitting. Volunteer at a shelter. You’ll meet a diverse group of people at these activities, get to focus your mind on something other than work, and become a more interesting and educated person. Do avoid making your hobby high-stakes, though. You’re trying to decrease stress, not the opposite.
Hire qualified people so you can trust them to do delegated tasks well. If necessary, you can quality-check work, but you cannot do everything by yourself without destroying your mental health and probably your other relationships. Whether it’s staff, freelancers or something else, take some of the burden off of yourself.
4. Know what you’re getting into
This is easier said than done, but it’s imperative that you forecast your business well so you know when you can safely take downtime and when you’re going to need help. You need to set aside time to relax and forecasting your business helps you choose these times. Business can be unpredictable, but try to plan things as far in advance as you can. Set daily and weekly or monthly to-do lists and try your best not to move items between these lists much after you’ve started. This grants you a certain peace of mind and the satisfaction of completing a to-do list. If you’re likely to neglect them, put even soft items like spending time with your family on the list.
Share your best tips for reducing start-up stress, your unrelated hobbies (anyone following a medieval fashion course?! No?!) and ways you delegate by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.