There's a certain purity to the first year in business. You've just launched, you're super-focused on one concept, and you're passionately determined and motivated.
Fast-forward to year two or three in business and this sense of purity has dissolved. Your business is most likely inundated with projects, clients, collaborations, obligations and commitments -- some in line with the original vision and some not. Perhaps there's sub-companies that have evolved, or new brands, and multiple revenue generators. By nature of being an entrepreneur, there's a certain level of reward-sensitivity that causes business owners to take bigger risks, to overcommit, to do more, more, more for the bigger and better payoff. While there's certainly more opportunities to play off of at this point in one's business, it doesn't mean it's necessarily productive.
And what also tends to happen at this stage in business is an entrepreneur's self-care falls to the bottom of their priority list. With so much to do and time running out, the business takes the front seat. Working through lunch, eating on-the-go, not getting a good night's sleep, and neglecting to take a daily moment to simply do nothing are all symptoms that burnout may be coming in the near future.
When self-care is pushed to the bottom of the list, it's a downward spiral. The energy, clarity and creativity necessary to thrive in business become absent. Productivity, efficiency, and innovation are near impossible, causing the business and it's owner to feel like they're not where they should be (and perhaps, in reality, are not). This lack of self-care starts to become directly tied to the lack of revenue coming through the door.
We know the effects of stress on the body and mind. But there's not much discussion specifically on how this type of stress directly impacts revenue for business owners. I reached out to ten business owners who shared with me how putting self-care FIRST on their priority list has impacted their business in a positive way:
"Once upon a time my mind was filled with negative self-talk about how I wasn't doing good enough and not meeting outlandish self-created expectations of myself. It was a time when I slept little, gave myself little self-care and eventually ended up with stage 3 adrenal fatigue. Then and there I decided nothing was worth my health, I committed to a self-care plan to get myself back in optimal health: mind, body and spirit. When I began to acknowledge myself and celebrate myself, I felt better inside and that emanated out and touched everything in my life, including my business. When I aligned with my higher self in a deeper way by taking care of myself through kindness, I aligned with my purpose."
- Luna Love, Women's Leadership Mentor
"Putting myself first, and deeply taking care of myself is the single most impactful thing I've ever done for my business. I've realized that the influence my mission and my business have in the world is in direct proportion to how well I'm nourishing myself and my internal world. My business and what's happening in my external reality are simply an honest reflection of the energy I've cultivated for myself."
- Emily Cassel, Women's Leadership Coach + Sisterhood Expert
"I see my business as an extension of myself- my passion, my inspiration and my personal work. Growing my business is a constant practice of growing myself. So putting myself first is paramount to creating the business that is the very best and most authentic expression of who I am. What that means is I create time to pause, allowing space for learning, insight and recharging, as much as I create space for external expression as I work deeply with clients. It is a constant rhythm of inhaling and exhaling to ignite the fire of potential."
- Aleka Thorvalson, PCC Holistic Life Strategies Coach
"I now know that I can only take my clients as far as I'm willing to go myself. And so, putting myself and my self-care at the top of my priority list is at the forefront of my mind. However, it wasn't always this way. I used to be my own biggest roadblock to success. I lived in a state of chronic stress, was never good enough or doing enough, chased perfection, attacked myself through negative self-talk, and confidence was a thing I attempted to fake. I was ready to come alive, to stop hiding, and to embrace all that I am in service to the world, but I was overwhelmed by my insecurities, my fears, and my doubts. It wasn't until I learned how to clear my clutter, take back my time, and practice deep self-care on a consistent and regular basis that I stepped into the life and work that both makes me come alive and is the footprint I wish to leave in the world. I realized that taking care of myself first allowed me to be more generous to my clients later. To give them more of myself, my time, and my energy. It allowed me to be more present, embrace greater possibilities, and hold a safer space for them to achieve what they desired. Learning to set boundaries, nourish my body, love myself completely, and re-write my limiting beliefs left me with more energy, more clarity, and more confidence. I work better, rest better, and serve better. Not only that, but I'm much more excited to wake up and work each morning! We all have something amazing to offer this world, but we need to be at peace with ourselves to do so."
-Kelly Elizabeth Scott, Women's Leadership & Wellness Coach
"If I don't make time for me, I tend to burn out very easily which doesn't help my business or my clients. I have found that making time for self-care brings more creativity, focus and I am able to show up for my clients even better! I have made self-care a non-negotiable because without it everything is so much harder than it needs to be."
-Chelsea Roehl, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach for Creative Entrepreneurs
"When I stopped beating myself up and began to let go of fear, I started to make space for self-care. Giving myself permission to make personal balance a practice has been integral in the success of my business. I not only show up - I work passionately & creatively, set goals without internal judgment, and connect authentically with my clients."
-Kelly Travis, Health Coach & Trainer
"Learning to put myself first in my business has given me the clarity I was looking for, allowing me to focus on those things that matter most to me so that I can spend more time creating and serving others from a place that truly lights me up which. In doing so, it attracts people to me who are most aligned with my message."
- Amanda Johnson, Writer, Speaker & Creator of Being Good with Being You
"As someone who has a lot of projects going on (yoga teacher, blogger, BKS contributor, and a full-time job), I realized I needed to carve out time for myself so that I could continue doing all the things that I love doing. The time could be as simple as turning off the radio while I'm in the car so that I can think, or even making sure that I get to be a yoga student at least once a week. These moments, although they can be perceived as hard-to-find, are so essential. One really important self-care piece that I've learned is that I need to share how I'm feeling, whether that's on my blog or with my spouse. Keeping everything in does not help me to manage all of my commitments, nor does it make me feel any better or less stressed. I've come to the conclusion after years of attempting to do things by myself that's it's easier to take care of yourself and let others help you so that way you can fuel those who need it as well."
-Sarah Stonesifer, Blogger and Yoga Teacher
"I think that self-care is extremely necessary for my mental and spiritual health as a business owner. I've noticed that when I haven't taken the time to attend to myself physically, mentally, and spiritually I'm not able to effectively serve others. At the heart of any business is service. I've found that self-care gives me the energy to fill myself up so that I can pour out into others. How can you focus on serving others when you haven't taken the time to serve yourself?"
-Janelle Brown, Lifestyle Coach and Consultant
"I used to jump every time someone needed me, whether that was a client, a team member or a family member. If the red dot over my email popped up or an instant message would come in asking for my attention, I would immediately respond to it. I worked eight hours a day and got nothing accomplished other than answering emails and reviewing projects. I had to stop.
Many times we create scenarios of urgency in our own minds. We assume that the individual seeking our help needs us right now and if we don't return their inquiry that we're letting them down. I allowed myself time to give attention to those items, but I also gave myself time to focus on what I do best. I retrained my brain to feel accomplished and successful by acting when I need to. By limiting the amount of time I am "on," I'm able to focus and get projects completed on time. I'm giving better attention to people, and I'm also leading by example. The entire team feels more focused and our clients know how we work and what they can expect of us."
-Laura Wallace, Creative Director & Owner of Worx Graphic Design, Inc.
Hopefully this proof is enough to shift your perspective. Remember, when you thrive, your business thrives.