The Hidden Dangers of Entrepreneurship

As entrepreneurs, we tend to be focused and driven. Like so many of my clients, I often work too hard and become so outwardly-focused that I sometimes forget that self-care is critically important to the well-being, creativity, productivity, and overall success of a small business owner.

Why Entrepreneurship Is Dangerous

The Hidden Dangers of Entrepreneurship image iStock 000014825088XSmallDangerLet’s face it: if you’re an entrepreneur, you know that entrepreneurship can be addictive. The thrill of brainstorming, the excitement of creating and building something new and watching it grow…we love it! And what happens when you do what you love? You want to do it as much as possible, right? But we all need balance. Eat too much chocolate and you’ll gain weight. Work too many hours and the rest of your life will suffer.

The Importance of Self Care in Entrepreneurship

As the success of Business in Blue Jeans has grown over the years, I’ve increased more and more work time to my schedule to meet the increasing demands on my time, while still producing as much valuable content as I can to help entrepreneurs authentically grow their businesses. As a result, I’ve had to work hard to maintain balance across all the spheres of my life.

If you don’t pay close attention, time can get away from you and before you know it, you’re stressed out, overworked, and completely out of balance.

Why Being out of Balance Is Bad

When your life is out of balance, even if you’re achieving success in your work, you’re really only partly successful. Clients often come to me for help in getting back in balance, because they’ve spent so much time trying to grow their businesses that their health, their home, and their relationships have suffered. When you pay too much attention to any one sphere of your life, the other spheres get neglected. Neglect parts of your life and you won’t be living a whole life. Plus, because being out of balance usually comes with feeling like there are too many demands on your time and not enough “you” to go around, you’ll get even more stressed and freaked out.

If you’ve ever thrown a pot on a pottery wheel, then you know what happens when the pot gets out of balance, right?

The Hidden Dangers of Entrepreneurship image Screen Shot 2013 02 06 at 3.58.11 PM 300x220The Hidden Dangers of Entrepreneurship

It looks very sad. Like this.

I can tell you from experience, no matter what you do on the wheel, it just keeps getting more and more out of whack. And entrepreneurship can be like that. Get out of balance, and you feel just as schlumpy as this flopped bowl.

The Other Hidden Cost

If you’re not taking care of yourself, then you’re probably not giving everything you could give to your business. Did you know that exercising and good nutrition can actually help you think better and more clearly? And are you aware that minimizing stress can help you to be more focused so that you’re more productive and efficient with your time?

Whereas the first hidden danger of entrepreneurship is loving what you do so much that you let other areas of your life suffer from neglect, the other hidden cost of entrepreneurship can be loving what you do so much that you forget to take care of yourself and thus, you can’t give 100% to your business.

By Taking Time Off, You Can Grow Your Business

Sounds counterintuitive, right? But it’s true. Taking time off to relax and enjoy your family, to exercise, and to do other stuff you really enjoy means that you’ll be in top form when you are working. It means you’re better at what you do for a living, and you’re living a whole life. That’s good!

How to Get Back in Balance

Here are a few tips to help you get back into balance:

  • Setting some limits and boundaries. For example, set a time when you’ll stop working every single day and stick to it.
  • Plan ahead and set priorities. Even if you have to quit working while you still have things to do, you’ll have done the most important things first, and what’s left won’t be as important.
  • Make a commitment to someone else. When I committed to my husband that I would never work on Sundays, it got a lot easier to keep that promise because I knew that our time together on that day mattered to him. And there’s not much I dislike more than letting down the hubster!
  • Take care of yourself. The food you eat is fuel for your brain and exercise helps the blood move better in your entire body, which means your brain, too!
  • Make a list of the ways that you relax and get “down time,” and set up a schedule that includes relaxation. Sometimes actually scheduling time off in your calendar makes it seem more important.

There are no official statistics for the rates of poor health, divorce, and stress levels amongst entrepreneurs. However those of us who are “in the know” about business and the potential toll it can take on the rest of your life. Getting back in balance and making sure you take care of yourself will help you to avoid the hidden dangers of entrepreneurship and give everything you’ve got to the growth of your business.

Oh, and remember that pottery analogy? Well, get your life into balance, and suddenly that sad pot starts to look like this:

The Hidden Dangers of Entrepreneurship image Screen shot 2011 08 25 at 7.40.39 PM 300x298The Hidden Dangers of Entrepreneurship

Yeah, I went there. Can you blame me?

Got some of your own strategies for getting into balance? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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