Mary Kate McGowan
What Are the Best Ways to Take Care of Yourself as a Business Owner — and Why Is It Important?
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Self-care is important, but you’ve probably heard that before. Self-care is about more than taking a bubble bath and relaxing with a glass (or bottle) of wine.
It’s about taking care of yourself. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of someone else or your business. As a small business owner, my business is only as resilient as I am. So taking care of yourself is not only important for your health and happiness. It is also vital for your business.
I know some people are making the same all-or-nothing thought distortions I’ve made. You could say, “I gave my business my name. I’m giving it my time and money to grow. Now, I must do more and take care of myself to fully allow my business to succeed.”
This sounds like a lot of pressure you’re putting on yourself. I’ve been there (frequently.)
Putting pressure on myself to succeed and “do better” and “be better” is my M.O. And let me tell you: it doesn’t work. Do you know one strategy that does? Taking pressure off yourself.
Owning a small business is hard. To help, here are a few strategies/coping tools I’ve learned that I hope can help you.
Take Care of Your Physical Needs
Hangry (hungry/angry) is a real thing, and it can affect your business and performance. One of the best introductory tools you can use to help keep yourself healthy and balanced is making sure you take care of your physical needs. This especially comes in handy when you are working on a high-focus task.
So what does taking care of your physical needs look like? Before you start a high-focus or large task, ask yourself.
Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
When is the last time you took a break?
Taking the time to get a drink of water or popping into your kitchen to grab a snack can give you the energy you need to knock that task out of the park.
Embrace Creativity within Criteria
“Creativity needs to roam freely to fully be realized.”
I disagree. Creativity does require flexibility. Flexibility to change your idea once you see a better path and the flexibility within your process to make sure you have all the tools you need to successfully complete a project.
Some of the most important tools I use are my criteria “checklists.” As a creative, I know my strength is my ability to be innovative and deliver strong results. So why do I need to reserve a part of my brain/focus to simple tasks that can easily be saved and referred to in checklists?
By freeing up my capacity, I can focus more on the task at hand rather than the simple, routine “process” aspects of a project.
To illustrate my point, here is an example of one of my checklists:
Boundaries are easier to establish at the beginning of a relationship, but they are worth establishing anytime throughout.
As a small business owner, set boundaries with your clients. Set expectations whether you’re going to work weekends and late nights or take last-minute projects. All those decisions are up to you.
Another boundary good for small business owners to establish is with yourself. You must decide whether you’re going to work weekends and late nights. Are you going to work every night? Are you going to work while on vacation?
There will always be something you could do to help your business. There are always clients to respond to, emails to write and social media graphics to post.
But do you know what is also important to help your business? The owner taking care of themselves.
So decide and make a routine of when and how much you’re going to work. This will look different for everyone.
If your business is a side gig, you will need to put in late nights. But maybe not every night. If you are the sole provider of your family and are self-employed, taking some time off during your vacation not only helps you recharge, but it also helps you spend time with your other priority—your family.
Want more information? Learn about common cognitive distortions and how you can change your thought process.