Why stepping away is the best thing you can do for yourself and your business
According to Statistics Canada, 46% of employees suffer from workplace stress on a daily basis. Meanwhile, a Monster Canada survey found that 1 in 4 employees quits their job because of stress. While there are plenty of figures on employee burnout, there is so little information regarding burnout in small business owners and entrepreneurs. What you’ll hear instead is the “no pain, no gain” mantra or “I can’t afford to get sick” or “I can rest when I’m on vacation” comebacks.
But burnout is a biological reality, and business owners are not robots. As we celebrate Small Business Week and Mental Health Awareness Week in October, here are some nuggets of wisdom on why stepping away can be the best thing for your business and yourself, whether times are good or bad.
Hit ‘pause’ to move forward
When he was working on one of his first fundraising rounds many years ago, Brandon Waselnuk found himself inching closer to a meltdown when the lead investor backed out abruptly. The co-founder of the Ottawa-based startup, Tattoo Hero, felt weak in the knees and collapsed to the floor. He could’ve stayed there, motionless, but instead, he broke into a series of push-ups. The callisthenics provided the distraction he needed to regroup, instead of rushing to band-aid solutions and rash decisions. When he got back up, he called his mentors who told him all would be well, even if it meant starting from scratch.
Exercise has always provided relief for Waselnuk. It helps him with control and focus, which come in handy in the face of unpleasant surprises. He typically hits the gym midday for a pick-me-up and also uses the time to process complex challenges he may be facing. “You’d be surprised at how helpful hitting ‘pause’ can be, no matter how bad things seem. It allows me to deliberate carefully, gain a new perspective and, sometimes, even appreciate the situation,” he told TSheets.
“You’d be surprised at how helpful hitting ‘pause’ can be, no matter how bad things seem. It allows me to deliberate carefully, gain a new perspective and, sometimes, even appreciate the situation.”
—Brandon Waselnuk, Founder, VC & Entrepreneur
Limit connectivity and maximize technology
Kerry Smithies is a Chartered Professional Account who’s worked with businesses and nonprofit organizations for over two decades. She is also an entrepreneur, having founded My Quick Bookkeeping. In Australia, a four-week annual leave was the norm for Smithies. But when she moved to Vancouver, she was shocked to discover she would get less than half of what she was accustomed to.
So Smithies decided to mandate an annual two-week off-the-grid camping trip for herself. “Many people were expressing dismay that I was going to be stepping away from a business I am trying to grow, in order to sleep in a tent, hike, bike and lie on the beach,” she told TSheets. “Won’t you lose momentum, they’d ask. How about being available to your clients? What if a new client calls?”
Eighteen trips later, that tradition of going off the grid has definitely continued. Because in Smithies mind, she became her own boss for the flexibility, not to be glued to her business. Plus, she also feels that she is merely putting technology to good use when she disconnects, allowing automation to do the heavy lifting for her.
“All of the tools I use for my business are online, from scheduling to task management, meetings and training videos. So the business is still running without me being there physically,” she summarizes. Kerry also finds that she always returns to work with a clearer, more creative and productive mind.
“After taking a break from my business (and my phone), I have a clearer perspective on how to steer my life and my business accordingly. I am also more creative and productive.”
—Kerry Smithies, CPA & Founder, My Quick Bookkeeping, QuickBooks ProAdvisor & TSheetsPRO
Starting and running a business is a time- and energy-intensive endeavour, but both resources are in limited supply. Your business is only as good as the state you’re in. Burning the proverbial candle at both ends to fulfill a rite-of-passage mentality is unnecessary in this age where help and technology are abundant. Allow yourself the care you deserve and need and safeguard the welfare of your business.