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Are you the boss? Look after yourself

Setting up your own business is hard work. Everyone knows that and they’ll probably tell you  need to work 24/7 to keep things going. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

It is obviously important to do all you can to make a business work, but it also crucial not to burn out before you can reap the rewards of your labours. Burnout can lead to lack of clarity and making poor or snap decisions. A business owner needs to be in control and physical and mental well being are crucial to this.

Daniel Foster is owner of Manchester-based tech company 34SP.com. He says: “As soon as 34SP.com was generating an income for me, before buying a car or a house, I took the chance to fulfil a childhood dream and signed up for private flying lessons.”

Foster says that acting as a pilot is one of the very few occasions when he’s not thinking about some aspect of work. “It can be hard to banish thoughts of your business completely on a week’s break,” he adds, “but a hobby that consumes you can do that.

“I didn’t realise straight away but part of the enjoyment, both during my training and since, was the complete focus required. The result is that everything else is put completely out of mind.” Foster credits this ability to switch off entirely with being able to give his business his full attention when he’s there.  

A business owner needs to be in control and physical and mental well being are crucial to this
It’s not just about work-life balance. For others, it can just be about finding time during the working day itself to wind down. Tim Langford is director of financing system Numo. He says: “For me it’s all about exercise. It’s amazing how clear-minded and refreshed I feel after an intense session and I’m ready to face the world again.

“And if I can fit it in, I love a meal out with good company and a glass or two of red wine, with my mobile switched to silent.”

It is important to learn to manage yourself. While being a business owner can mean the world appears to rest on your shoulders, one advantage of being the boss is that you’re the only person who can make the decision to sit back and relax.

Rob Arnott, founder of homeware and gift brand Okapi Home, says: “In our house we’ve actually banned mobile phones in the bedroom. We’ve bought old-fashioned alarm clocks and now charge our phones in the lounge each night. This has meant being able to read a book before going to sleep (rather than checking emails, the news and Facebook). This has been a real help in unplugging and relaxing.”

If all else fails, you could outsource (though that word might strike fear into the very soul of most entrepreneurs).

Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual assistant platform Time Etc, says: “I’ve learned the hard way that the only way to unwind is to free up hours by outsourcing the stuff that eats into your time.

“There was a time when I was ordering loo rolls and notepads for the office and chasing late payers. All those jobs can be easily and inexpensively delegated, if you just learn to silence your inner control freak.”

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