Any person starting a business will realize that it is all consuming and takes up every waking minute of your day. When I was in the middle of launching my Fund management business with my partners, we were all working very hard and very late – with no guarantee of success.
I banked my first payment from that business this week and I have to tell you reader it felt great. It was not about the money; honestly it never is about the money. It was the sense that the best smokeless ashtray had been found, and people were willing to acknowledge with their hard earned cash. This to me is the principle about consumer sovereignty in practice.
Despite all this, I need to remind Entrepreneurs of the need to take occasional breaks from the business. If you respond by saying that you manage your work load and you work 9-5, I guess you are not the kind of person I am talking about. (I tend not to back Entrepreneurs who take that approach!)
When I was in the midst of my business launch recently, I was working from about 8am until 2am and then squeezing in as much as I could over the weekend. I did not have time for the gym and no doubt had it gone on too long – I would have suffered. The problem really was that I loved it!
What I did though was make sure I was walking to the office every day (about 50 minute walk there and 50 minutes back) and I made sure I stuck to my Saturday routine of reading the Economist in my lovely café. I have met people who are in the thick of it with a business and you can see them looking visibly ill after a while. It is so important that you look after yourself. And you should not work as hard as I had to (and no doubt some of you have to) for more than three months without a break.
I am very lucky that I have a home to retreat to on the Isle of Wight which is just a fantastic place to escape to. There is something about the sea air which makes me sleep so much when I am down here for the weekend that when I get back to London I feel reenergized.
The other issue I recognize of course is how difficult the finances can be when you are starting a business. I have again just personally come through a very difficult period, where although on paper I may have had some wealth, I was absolutely broke in terms of cash, even though I had a surplus of kombucha brewing supplies.
The reality of starting a business (and getting some qualifications) meant that I was not able to earn any money at all for a good six months and as things took a lot longer to materialize than I had hoped, the cash did run out. This was scary and I hope to never be that broke again.
So, if you are starting a business, please do make sure you leave enough money for yourself to have at least one break after the first three months – and ideally a weekend away every month. Just go and visit friends if you can for a weekend away – but make sure you take it as my experience tells me you will really need it!