Managing well-being for entrepreneurs

Paul Lancaster (Founder, Newcastle Startup Week), Lizzy Hodcroft (Co-Founder, Myndr) & Sarah Crimmens (Co-Producer, Newcastle Startup Week & Founder, Goddess Retreats)

Across Newcastle Startup Week and our Founders’ Friday events, well-being for entrepreneurs has been an important, recurring topic. You can’t look after your business if you can’t look after yourself. Furthermore, taking some me-time can actually help you be more productive. In this blog, we have highlighted some key well-being tips which have been shared with us over the past 12 months.

#1 Cover your basics: nutrition, exercise & sleep

Let’s start with the basics. You can’t look after your business if you can’t look after yourself. Eating well, exercising and getting sufficient sleep can all help boost your energy, mood and productivity – as Sarah Crimmens advised at our May edition of Founders Friday. Sleeping an extra hour can help you feel more rested, whilst exercise can help produce endorphins that reduce stress and improve your energy levels. The key to managing your well-being in these areas is consistency (or as Brad Burton would say: ‘con-fucking-sistency’) and finding out what works well for you and your body. Because here’s the trick: there is no magic universal solution! Every body is different and whilst some may thrive on 4.5 hours of sleep, others may need 9. Equally, whilst some entrepreneurs may respond well to a reduced intake of gluten and dairy, others may feel indifferent to these changes.

When developing a new habit or routine, give yourself some time to adjust and see what works for you. Keep in mind that new habits often only lead to noticeable changes in your body after two or three weeks.

#2 Share and connect with others

The entrepreneur’s journey can feel lonely, struck with doubt and insecurities. However, you are not alone.

You are not alone! Statistics have shown that 1 in 3 entrepreneurs feel depressed at some point – as Lizzy Hodcroft highlighted in her talk at Newcastle Startup Week Day 1. So don’t be afraid to share your story and engage with others. As a founder, you are surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals with similar journeys. Talk to them! Defeat the stigma of mental health. It’s OK to share. In fact, we encourage it! A problem shared is a problem halved.

#3 Stop. Relax. Breathe!

It can be tempting to constantly chase audacious business goals and jump from milestone to milestone. However, whilst following your business objectives is crucial to achieving business growth, it is also important to take the occasional break and check in with how you feel.

That’s why we give you permission to stop. Take a long breath. Maybe three. And connect with yourself. How do you feel? Maybe it’s a good feeling, or maybe you’re feeling a bit low. That’s what life is like: an experience of both highs and lows (or, as Sarah Crimmens phrased it on Day 5 of Newcastle Startup Week, an experience of contractions and expansions). Acknowledge that both emotions are OK and give yourself what you need.

If you are feeling ‘low’, be kind to yourself! Take a short break if you need it. From our conversations with entrepreneurs, we found that connection with nature is often a good relaxation activity. Examples included hikes, swimming and long beach walks. Others popular activities were baths and meditation. Learn what works for you and tune in with yourself. It will help you ‘re-energise’ and re-focus on your work when you’re ready.

#4 Identify your drivers

Is your business drive also a driver for your happiness? If you achieve your business goals, will that be ‘enough’? If not, what do you need to do to make yourself happy?

On Day 5 of Newcastle Startup Week, Spencer Davey gave a really good example of a famous sportsman who worked hard every day to win the gold medal for swimming. However, when he succeeded he realised he wasn’t any happier; he’d been working toward a career objective that no longer brought him joy.

What makes you happy? Where do you want to see yourself in the future? This isn’t just about your business, but also involves aspects such as your work-life balance. As Jeni Banks mentioned on Day 2 of Newcastle Startup Week, being self-employed means you can work flexibly! Use this flexibility, not as a tool to ‘overwork’ yourself, but as an opportunity to spend time on things that matter to you.

#5 Get out of the building

Working from home can be exhausting. A change of scenery can help boost creativity and helps you connect with other people. You can work from a local coffee shop, a library, or visit a co-working space. Most coworking spaces in the UK feature a free-to-access area during office hours. Who knows, you might meet your next client there! Popular coworking spaces in the North East include Tuspark Newcastle Eagle Labs, PROTO, the NE BIC, and Business Central Darlington.

Inspired? You can learn more about well-being for entrepreneurs at our Founders’ Friday and Startup Week events.

Get your tickets for Newcastle Startup Week today via our Tickets Page.

Learn more about Founders’ Friday by following our Eventbrite page or dedicated Twitter account.

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