Entrepreneurship calls for sacrifice. You work long hours; pour your time, energy, and money into projects; and hope your efforts bear fruit. Unfortunately, for many entrepreneurs, that kind of commitment leads to burnout and an overall failure to take care of oneself.
It’s not a sustainable model, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
As an entrepreneur, you need to take care of yourself. However, it can take time to adjust how you think about your work. Through active planning and concerted self-care efforts, you can build a successful business you can commit to for years to come.
Start with Incorporation
One reason entrepreneurs work themselves into the ground is fear. They’re afraid one misstep will ruin everything, leaving them broke and their business in pieces. It’s true that this can happen, especially to new, tenuous operations. Luckily, there’s a process for protecting your business: incorporation.
Experienced entrepreneurs recommend incorporating as an LLC to protect your personal finances and minimize liability. It’s a quick process that doesn’t cost much, but it draws a strict line between your personal and business assets. While forming an LLC won’t protect you from all risks, consider this a key step in your long-term financial planning.
Keep Your Financial Plan Flexible
Speaking of financial planning, what does yours look like? For entrepreneurs, a financial plan is a lot more complex than a basic budget and a retirement account. You need a plan that looks ahead, arranging funding for future personal and professional goals.
Spend time outlining your aims for your business and your personal life. Then, consider what monetary goals you’ll need to meet to achieve those aims, but remember to keep it flexible. Your financial plan should be responsive, allowing you to adjust to changing market trends, major personal and world events, and other unpredictable factors.
Choose an Insurance Plan
Many entrepreneurs view themselves as essential to their business — not just in the sense that they have critical information, but to the point that they can’t take a vacation. Worse is the fact that they’re often right. Ask yourself: What would happen if you suddenly died or became incapacitated? Would your business survive? What would happen to your employees?
If you’re not sure, start transferring operational knowledge to others in leadership roles. But you also need to take out a key man insurance policy. This kind of life insurance policy isn’t just for owners, though that’s who it’s often used for. It’s for any high-level employee whose death, incapacitation, or exit could seriously compromise your business’s operations and profitability. Coupled with a succession plan, this type of policy can mean the difference between ongoing employment and immediate job loss for your employees.
Take a Vacation
Business owners are consistently overworked and downright afraid to take a vacation. Well, it’s time to let go of that fear. Budget for your own PTO, and plan a vacation that takes you away from the office to unplug. Not only do you need to take a vacation occasionally to make your business sustainable, but stepping away to recharge will freshen your perspective on your company. It will also let you see how things go when you’re not there. Who steps into leadership roles? What kinds of informational and functional gaps do you need to fill to make your business more resilient?
Running your own business is undeniably challenging, but it doesn’t have to run you into the ground — and it shouldn’t. As an entrepreneur, you need to do the work that allows you to step away occasionally. Doing so will help everyone thrive, and you’ll model work-life balance for your team. But it will also press you to think about the long term. Balancing and distributing responsibilities will ensure your business outlives your tenure.
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