Your business is constantly at risk. Threats are all around and if you’re not prepared for them then weak and vulnerable areas will be hurt and your business could be knocked off the course it’s on.
Ironically, the biggest risk to your business is the one thing that it cannot do without – its you – its leader.
Of course your business needs you. Even if you have people in it managing day-to-day activities, it still needs you, as its leader, setting the destination, the direction and steering the course.
If a young start-up company comprising a small team where each is key to the success of the business, the risk is even greater.
If you own a small business that comprises you alone then without you there is no business and it is at most risk.
Regardless of the size of your business and the scale of the risk, you are the largest factor when it comes to its success or failure.
So it makes sense that you need to look after you.
This goes beyond taking out ‘Key Man’ insurance. You should, but that will only help you after the event.
What you really need to do is take preventative measures and you should make this as important as anything else you do in your business.
If you injure yourself, how would that impact your business? What if you hurt your back and couldn’t function for a week or more? What if you twisted your knee or broke your arm and couldn’t drive for a few weeks? How much would this hurt your business?
Physically, we humans are pretty vulnerable and it can sometimes be embarrassingly easy to injure ourselves…as you’re about to see.
I’m actually more prone to injuries than the average bear because, without putting to fine a point on it – I am a clumsy bugger.
As a child, I trod on a plank that had a nail sticking up and suddenly the plank and I were one. Helping my dad on his allotment I somehow managed to slam a garden fork down into my foot (I actually missed the ground).
I was pretty fit in my younger years did nothing worse than crack some ribs.
Then I hit my 30s… I managed to knock my right knee out with a baseball bat. I dislocated my left knee skiing. I dislocated my right shoulder coming off a motorbike. The boot lid of my car bounced down off its hinges as I was putting something in and split the bridge of my nose to the bone. I dislocated my left knee again when helping a friend fix her fence.
In the last 6 months I’ve slipped on my kitchen floor and dislocated my left knee again and my left shoulder decided that it was missing out and became compressed. (It was operated on a month ago.) And a couple of weeks ago a tooth broke and had to be taken out.
My father once remarked that he was amazed I’d lived so long.
I married my childhood sweetheart in 2013 and entitled my reading ‘Clumsy Bugger’. It seemed apt that it was read by a good friend who was present during most of my worst injuries, like when skiing, riding the motorbike and losing a fight with the boot of my car.
In case you’re curious as to why I would have such a title for the reading at my wedding (as were everyone at the wedding), I wrote all about my miss-adventures and injuries but concluded with describing the one part of me I couldn’t now break because it no longer belonged to me. (If you haven’t got it, I was talking about my heart.)
Anyway, back to the point…physical wellbeing… it’s vitally important that you look after yourself and be as fit and healthy as you can. You don’t have to run marathons just do some exercise…go for walks…go for a swim…just do something, especially if your day comprises, sitting in an office, a car or in meetings. Watch your diet and your weight and all that other good stuff that you know you should be doing.
Don’t leave this to chance either. If you do it will get pushed aside because you had a lunch meeting arranged or needed to hit a deadline or for some other reason.
Growing a business is stressful. When I struggled in my first business and eventually closed it leaving me in debt the stress and strain on me was like nothing I’d experienced and I sank like a stone.
My confidence, my pride…so much of what had been me during my successful career was gone. I won’t go into this here as I described my journey in detail in my report, Why Most Businesses Fail but suffice to say the way back was harder than recovering from any of my physical injuries.
We all feel stress to some degree but if you feel it a lot and most of the time then you must do something about it. If you’re too stressed then you can’t sleep, everything is hard work and a struggle and molehills turn into mountains.
I took on a client a few years ago who was like this. His business had plateaued and he was struggling to get it growing again. He worked many hours each day and sometimes at weekends. His family time was sacrificed and became like a chore, getting in the way of spending more time in his business. His holidays were spent checking emails and responding to the demands of others and he was stressed.
He was like a pan full of water that was simmering and on the edge of coming to the boil. The slightest problem, or setback was like turning the heat on that pan ever so slightly, which would be enough for the water to start boiling over.
I worked with him for about a year and during that time we got the business growing again and added the infrastructure and support that would allow him to step away from it so that he could spend more time with his family and exercise.
By the end of our time together his business was growing, he was back in control and that pan of water had been taken off the heat completely.
If he hadn’t turned himself around and reduced his stress levels and taken time out for him and his family, I have no doubt that he would have had a major health crisis and he would no longer have a business.
If you don’t look after your mental wellbeing, everything can feel like an uphill struggle. You lose the confidence needed to make the right decisions. You don’t have the motivation and energy to keep driving your business forward. You take rejections from prospects personally and struggle to bounce back. Problems, even small ones, add to your stress and you struggle to handle and resolve them. You lose focus and your productivity goes out of the window and as you achieve less and less your days get longer and longer.
And to top it all off, your business suffers and your problems mount. It’s a vicious circle.
The biggest challenge here is to take the time out to look after you, but you must.
Start with changing your mind-set. Decide now that your wellbeing is as important as your businesses. Decide that your health is strongly linked to the health of your business and that you therefore need to give it a high priority.
In fact, the two are strongly linked. If you’re strong and healthy then that is one less huge risk to the health of your business. If you are, stressed, tired, physically struggling then your cannot be the confident, strong leader your business needs and it will suffer.
Equally, if your business is struggling then you will lose confidence, you will stress and your health will suffer.
You and your business need to be strong and healthy. If one of you isn’t, the other eventually won’t be either.
Having set the right mind-set, plan your time and the activities you will do to be stronger, healthier and more relaxed. Even doing things as simple as going for a walk at lunchtime will benefit far more than sitting at your desk and checking your emails or Facebook page.
I do practice what I preach. A few years ago, I found my health suffering as I worked long days building this business and apart from my injuries, my weight had increased, I didn’t sleep well and I started to doubt myself.
Over time, usually during the quiet moments when taking my dogs for their early morning walk (you can’t think if you’re running around trying to get things done), I realised I needed to be healthier, needed to get my mind-set right and needed to take time out to do this.
And that’s what I did. It takes time to get this in place but I did it.
I now work fewer hours because…
- I’m more productive;
- I know where I’m going and how to get there;
- I have systems in place so that the business runs without me needing to be in it all the time.
Because I am the only one in my business I have also outsourced many tasks that would take me hours to do myself and take me away from what I should be doing.
All of this means I can concentrate on creating and delivering the products and services that will contribute to the growth of my business. I can head off to the gym or for a swim or simply take the dogs for another walk at lunchtime. I’m more productive and get more done in less hours, I relax in my free time and I sleep well.
Injuries aside, I am strong and healthy and so is my business.
If you are concerned about the strength of your business please feel free to contact me and see how I can help you. Alternatively, download my free report, ‘How Strong Is Your Business?’. In it I reveal the 4 levels of strength that a business must have in order to achieve long-term success.
Do This Right Now