Insights

Why A Healthy Entrepreneur Makes For A Stronger Business

Thursday 13 October 2022

On the latest episode of our podcast Extraordinary Entrepreneurs Together, Gary and I talked about the importance of taking care of your mental health as an entrepreneur.

With World Mental Health Day on 10 October, it was an appropriate topic for us to discuss; and in our years of building and running businesses, we have certainly discovered some self-care techniques that work, as well as the traps that it’s all too easy to stumble into.

In particular, we focused on the challenge entrepreneurs often have of maintaining a work-life balance, and what you can do to help ensure you’re not overstretching yourself. As we know all too well, not only is this detrimental to your own mental and physical health, but it also isn’t good for the health of your business. 

Challenges and overcoming them in a healthy way

I can reel off an entire list of challenges I’ve faced as an entrepreneur – among the biggest were: my business partner (who was the engineer in our software development company) leaving in 2006; being just weeks away from bankruptcy as a business and under huge pressure to close deals to make payroll; and going through the acquisition process. 

Each of those challenges gave me a few sleepless nights, but I was always confident we’d find a solution and come through stronger (and we always did). I will be honest though, when I first started in business, I had a “work hard, play hard” attitude and I didn’t look after my health as well as I should have. 

Now, however, I understand the science behind the importance of having good-quality sleep, eating well and physical exercise, and I take much better care of myself than I used to. I’m by no means perfect, but mentally I’m a lot stronger as a result.

Gary: “As an entrepreneur, you have to expect all of those problems, challenges and obstacles and it’s by overcoming them that you get paid. I could give plenty of similar examples to those Guy shared – embarrassingly I used to fall asleep in my daughter’s ballet class.

But how do you get over those obstacles? You need a bit of balance and perspective. You need to take time out of the day-to-day running around, not exercising enough and not eating the right foods – it’s really important.

I believe the entrepreneur needs to stay fit and healthy, not for selfish reasons, but for the rest of the team in the business. You need to plan your schedule and find that balance so that you can perform at your best.”

Having the right people in your corner

While being an entrepreneur can be lonely, it’s important to remember that you have people around you who can and will support you – your partner and your team are the first who come to mind. 

Gary: “I think both Guy and I would agree that our partners are very supportive and they allowed us to achieve all that we were able to achieve by picking up the slack. Your partner is critical, but you’ve also got to pay attention to your health and fitness and remember you can lean on your team. 

Your team can be really helpful. I remember one time we were a ‘donkey on the edge’. An investor let us down last minute, just before Christmas, and I was at my lowest low. I called a meeting between Christmas and the New Year, down in Taunton, just off the M5. I got the team together and we pulled our bootstraps up over a couple of days, took time to think and plan and, by March, we’d been successful in securing investment.”

Your team and your partner are incredibly important to help support you through your entrepreneurial challenges, but it’s also really important to have like-minded people outside your company to whom you can talk. Entrepreneurs are a relatively rare breed with particular characteristics and mindsets, and I find it helpful talking to people with the same mindset as me.

In fact, it was at a Strategic Coachmeeting that Gary and I met and came up with the idea for EHE Capital. It took me seven years before I put myself into the Strategic Coachprogramme, but I wish I’d done it a lot earlier because it transformed the way I thought, gave me more confidence, and helped me understand how to grow my business and why we were different. This kind of group could help you feel less alone as an entrepreneur and could provide the mental health support that you need. 

Making time for yourself

Both Gary and I agree that it’s really important to make time for yourself and to get into good habits with your routine. When I realised my exercise routine had slipped, I joined a gym near our office in Manchester and, because of how much I was benefitting from training there, I offered all of my team memberships with the same gym. I think there were 30–40 of us who all trained there, which was not only great for the team but also for the small, independent gym. 

Gary: “Fitness was a big part of my schedule. I would protect the first couple of hours in the day, go to the gym and come out a lot clearer and more confident. I’d go into the day with a clear strategy and picture, and have more energy. 

I also used to pick my kids up from friends’ houses at the end of the day, and I really valued that time. We’d chat, sometimes we’d grab a Subway on the way home, and they loved it.”

We also both agree that taking time out of your business is essential for its continued growth and success. In last week’s blog, we shared three reasons to embrace your free time, and we can’t stress enough the importance of giving yourself that downtime. 

Gary: “You’ve got to give yourself some thinking time out of the business, not always in it. You’ve got to take time out for yourself, but, as Guy said, you also need that group of other entrepreneurs or the non-exec who you can talk to informally, because when you have people like that, things improve massively. 

There is a loneliness for entrepreneurs – they’ve got their idea, they’re driving it forward, building their team and marketplace – so having someone else who’s also an entrepreneur and who understands that is incredibly valuable.”

As well as having people to support you, there is also technology that entrepreneurs (and their teams) can make use of to improve their mental health. There are plenty of apps that can support people on a one-to-one basis if that’s what’s needed. The key is to know when you need to ask for help and to have people in your life who can provide that support. 

As an entrepreneur, it’s important to look after your own mental health, as well as the mental health of your team. Joining a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, like the ones in our EHE community, is a great place to start or to simply expand your support network. 

If you’d like to learn more about the specific support we provide entrepreneurs at EHE Capital, please get in touch

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