Mental Health = Business Health
Learning to Prioritize Self-Care as a Business Responsibility
“Has COVID hurt your business?”
I’ve gotten this question dozens of times since mid-March. But this isn’t a blog post about COVID, nor is it about how the pandemic has affected my company.
This is a post about mental health, and how it relates to being a business owner.
When I started my web design business Word of Web back in January, I knew it wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows ahead. Running a business is hard, and everything you read and watch tells you that.
I was prepared to feel overwhelmed. I was prepared to feel lonely and isolated at times. And I was prepared to have days when I couldn’t stop asking “Why the hell did I quit my job!?”
What I wasn’t prepared for was the adjustment to the frightening reality that I was my business.
When you have a bad day as a sole proprietor, your company has a bad day. When you decide to sleep in or take off early on a Friday afternoon, you’re sacrificing precious revenue dollars. It’s a world where you only “eat what you kill,” and sometimes it feels like what you don’t kill could kill you.
It’s a world where you only “eat what you kill,” and sometimes it feels like what you don’t kill could kill you.
Of course, you can mitigate this problem by distributing responsibility – whether that’s by hiring employees, bringing on a team of contractors, or creating systems and processes that “run themselves” (à la Michael Gerber’s E-Myth “Franchise Prototype”).
And over the past few months, this is exactly what I’ve done – or at least, what I’ve started doing. But it’s important to acknowledge those first few months or years in the entrepreneurial journey where you’re on your own, and you and your business are one and the same.
It’s in those times that questions like “Has COVID hurt your business?” feel utterly preposterous. If you’re like me and COVID has triggered feelings of anxiety, depression, and varying degrees of existential crisis, then of course it has hurt your business. How can you operate at your max capacity when all of that is eating away at your brainpower?!
If you find yourself in a similar situation – where your mental health challenges are beginning to manifest in your business operations and outputs – I want you to know first and foremost that there is nothing wrong with you, and I’m right there with you.
But I also want to offer a suggestion on how to address the problem.
Treat self-care not as a luxury, distraction from, or reward for your business, but as a responsibility you have to your business. After all, your mental health has the potential to make or your company. Give it the care it deserves.
Treat self-care not as a luxury, distraction from, or reward for your business, but as a responsibility you have to your business.
Here’s another way of framing that responsibility: what would you do if you discovered a problem with the product or service you’re selling? What about if you learned that there was a leaky pipe somewhere in your store? You would address the issue immediately, right?
As business owners, I believe we should think about our mental health in the same way – if it’s broken, it’s important that we invest in fixing it.
I realize all of this may sound rather unsavory. After all, we shouldn’t need to reduce self-care to a business function in order for it to “stick” as part of our day-to-day routine.
But in a society that glorifies entrepreneurs for working 100 hour weeks – neglecting their families, friends, hobbies, and health in the process – it may be the most effective method we have.
How have you incorporated self-care into your “job” as a business owner? Do you see a relationship between your mental health and business performance? Post in the comments – I’d love to hear your thoughts.