As an entrepreneur, the word “self-care” might inspire the opposite of calm and relaxation. Hear me out as to why…
Five months ago, my husband, business partner and I opened a wellness studio called Refuel Body + Mind in central Phoenix. Self-care in the Parks and Recreation form has been challenging to come by, even as entrepreneurs in the business of well-being. We’ve never run a studio like this before, so our learning curve was fairly steep, but our mindset is and always will be “figure it out until it works”.
Unintentionally, this can create a great deal of self-induced pressure. When starting a new venture, you are 100% devoted to putting your everything into making it work. Taking time away from it feels unheard of because you’ll probably feel guilty for taking time off…even if you really need to.
Our biggest act of self-care was opening this business for two reasons — 1) our longevity and 2) serving as a local pillar for our community. For anyone that’s building an idea, a business, a venture or project, self-care is a far cry from instant gratification. For many, it may be an expression of love by laying a foundation for one’s future or filling a niche need that has been ignored.
Regardless of the journey, path, route or idea, entrepreneurship is overwhelming. What might self-care look like while you’re bringing an idea to fruition?
Work in sprints
Building takes stamina, discipline and persistence. You’re likely exploring things you’ve never had a reason to before (TPT license to sell goods, anyone?) and making decisions that will impact other choices you’re not even aware of yet.
You feel like an octopus as the accountant, operations director, marketing manager, social media specialist, head of maintenance, director of sales…it’s exhausting. Instead of trying to solve all the things all at once, bucket similar tasks into a sprint.
Set up systems that will help your future self and your business. Knowing I can create once and then maintain and optimize has helped build my mental stamina to work through more challenging parts of this journey.
Mindset shift: high intensity of the startup phase is temporary
Creating is exciting! So much novelty is rewarding yet can be…a lot all at once. For us at Refuel, we’re doing it all in-house. We know we’ll eventually get to a place where we can expand our team. For now, we’re the only ones staffing the studio, opening and closing, doing daily maintenance, creating standard operating procedures…the list goes on. Knowing we won’t be operating at this level forever motivates me to keep pushing through. The hard work WILL pay off, and we will build capacity to hire. We understand, the first year is about surviving and getting off the ground.
Carve out intentional time for you
A recent article published by the Harvard Business Review noted the importance of taking a vacation to boost your well-being. While a full-on, out-of-state vacation and stepping away for multiple days may not be feasible, putting your phone away for even just two to three hours without checking it is.
Create that intentional space to do something that brings you joy and to the present moment. You’re building something! You’re creating value! You’re filling a need to help others! That needs to be celebrated and you can’t do that if you’re constantly playing the game of whack-a-mole solving the next problem flavor of the day. For me, creating a habit of indoor rock climbing has helped me cultivate a sense of calm and mindfulness. I also take full advantage of our wellness studio and dedicate multiple sessions per week for sauna and cold plunge time.
Get a support system to make the entrepreneurial journey less daunting
Maybe your version of self-care is eating a meal that reminds you of a nostalgic childhood memory. Or maybe it’s investing in software that will free up your time. Whatever it is, make the effort to weave it into your unique entrepreneurial journey.
And while everyone’s journey will look different, it helps to find a supportive environment that understands what you are going through as you build your business. Having other entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of or just to vent to will benefit not only you and your business, but also anyone who joins your team.
If you’re looking to make connections with people and resources who can help you build a supportive community, Edson E+I Institute’s Place-Based Innovation Spaces offer programming and events that will help you make those connections. Find your space today!