From the moment one chooses the path of entrepreneurship, you are constantly lectured on what you need in order to succeed. Work hard! Be consistent! Surround yourself with the brightest minds! Each bit of advice is important when it comes to surviving the first few years. 20% of small business fail within the first year and as much as 50% fail within the fifth year. It’s no wonder we rush to find the best advice in order to remain the last ones standing. My first month owning a business, I spent every morning listening to podcasts, binge reading articles on entrepreneur and inc.com, I even kept Gary Vaynerchuck on my YouTube app. But as I continue into my third year while adding on another business venture, I realized something many entrepreneurs forgot to warn me about. SELF- CARE!
Before you roll your eyes at that word, let me tell you I understand how overused it is. Plenty of articles and blog posts pop up daily discussing it. But when you discuss self-care, we are usually talking about it in a recreational way. Splurging on a bundle and fancy nails is often defined as self-care. Taking a vacation with your girls or BAE is another option. But when it comes to entrepreneurship, self-care is the main ingredient that will determine whether you survive or drown in this industry and it’s not always thrilling.
I made the brilliant decision to start my business just days after giving birth. My son whom was breastfed, would remain ona pillow in my lap while I typed away at blog posts. He’d be attached to my chest with the help of a carrier as I traveled around the city for client meetings. When doing things that needed more concentration, I would rise up at four in the morning to get a few hours in before he awoke. It was all good until I began teaching dance again. Now I was rising early to get work done before I had to leave out for the day and when I came home it was all about the family until 11pm, when I could wrestle my son down for bed. A night or two of little sleep doesn’t do much harm but done consistently is a slow death to the body and eventually your business. It took the loss a client and practically my mind to understand this.
” You are YOU and only you understand what works for you and what you’re good at.”
Sometimes self-care is compromising with your limits and capitalizing on your abilities. You’re not Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. You’re not Myleik Teele or Mattie James. You are YOU and only you understand what works for you and what you’re good at. I need sleep. My body does not work without it. Once upon a time in college it worked but now ISSA NAH! Maybe you’re not a morning person who can wake up at 5am. Maybe you have the attention span of a 5 year old. It’s up to you to use self-care and meet your needs so you can adjust your work style. Working at night could be key for you. Doing small tasks for no more than 15 minutes could help you be more productive than you ever could. My new sleeping schedule is 12-8. From 9p- 12a I pool all of my energy into my work. During the day I take any down time I have to complete the smaller tasks. You have to make it work for you.
“Often times the greatest self-care is handling your business whether you feel like it or not”
Another part of self-care that I know you won’t be a fan of is taking care of business. Self-care isn’t always glamourous. As Myleik Teele once mentioned, “Often times the greatest self-care is handling your business whether you feel like it or not”. That could mean paying a bill, getting your finances in order, taking a class to help you excel. It is this type of self-care that will work on your discipline. Just because you made $4,000 profit doesn’t mean it should all go to a high-priced fashion designer. The first $1,000 I made went directly to purchasing a camera. The next went to a conference. All while I continue to work off my debt with Sallie Mae. I’d much rather bloody shoes on my feet so I can really turn up to Cardi B but I’ve learned from studying billionaires that in order to achieve the financial freedom all entrepreneurs hope to achieve, you have to consistently invest in yourself. Buy what you need to grow your business. Pay for the class to master your skill. Erase the debt that holds you back from getting that storefront or the funding you need. This form of self-care may not be glorious but can often make or break your success. Remember at the heart of your business, is YOU. How can it run effectively if the engine isn’t right?
I challenge you to add a little self-care into your routine every day. Even if it’s for 15 minutes, you’ll be better off than not doing it at all. Being an entrepreneur is not easy just ask Milano yourself. But as long as you place a little priority on self-care during your journey, you’re sure to look back and value the effort.
Written by Alyssa Bigbee
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania