Why Entrepreneurs Need To Take Breaks


As an entrepreneur, it can be extremely difficult to take time out and re-calibrate.

Everything you are is focused on bringing your vision come to life, and making all of the stress, personal sacrifice and fatigue worthwhile.

But does it actually increase your chance of success to take a time out? Step back and make sure you’re making the right choices, and there isn’t a great opportunity staring you in the face. It is very easy to miss the obvious when you are buried in growing a company.

You must be willing to go over and above and push yourself more than the average person. No question. But what is rarely talked about are the physical and mental downsides of not taking breaks from your obsession.

Mental Downside Of Being Hyper-Focused

There is a never ending litany of people saying that the only way to be successful is to be focused, give it your all and it will all be worth it. I completely agree with this (and have lived it) but personally feel this needs to be further defined.

Studies show that optimal mental efficiency happens on 7.06 hours of sleep. There is significant decline with less than 6.47 hours or more than 8.03. Since you are making important decisions as a business owner, it is vital you operate at your peak mental ability as much as humanly possible.

Will this be possible all the time? Of course not. Just make sure you keep this reality in the back of your head. The last thing you want to do is make a dumb decision on a lack of sleep!

Physical Downside Of Being Hyper-Focused

I really don’t need to even dive into this. We all know what happens when we work to much and exercise to little, but did you know that stress has a direct impact on your immune system and rate of metabolism?

The hormone cortisol is released as part of your “fight or flight” response to stress. While there are temporary benefits to this, in the long term there is a significant reduction in both your immune system and digestive track. This leads to greater risk of serious diseases in general, and the slow down of your metabilism has been linked to things like diabetes and intestinal blockage.

Another study shows that AGE DOESN’T MATTER in how the body reacts to stress!

Personal Downside Of Being Hyper-Focused

Beating back weight gain, overcoming illness and getting caught up on sleep can usually be accomplished when you’ve either failed miserably or reached the mountain top.

The bad decisions made in business and more importantly your personal life are not so easily vanquished.

Losing clients, friends, significant others, or relationships with your children have serious impact on your mental health. While you may be able to suppress these issues in the short term, they will catch up with you.

There was a study released last year showing that married business owners had a divorce rate of 82%. With a national average of just under 50%, this is to great a coincidence to ignore.

In short, you need to think long and hard about how much these relationships mean to you. Not only can they damage you emotionally in the long term, destruction of your personal life will make business success that much harder.

Taking Breaks Doesn’t Mean Losing Focus

Having experienced almost everything mentioned in this article personally, I want to say that this has not turned off my entrepreneurial fire in the slightest.

It has just made me take the occasional timeout, re-calibrate, make sure the decisions being make are good ones, spend time with my daughter, friends and build great relationships with clients.

If you do the same, it will make those late nights and short term sacrifices easier to deal with and make them more rewarding when you have people to share them with!

Richard Branson: Four Tips For Avoiding Startup Mistakes

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photo: fashionindie.com

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic among 100 other companies (mostly successful) has been doling out great entrepreneurial advice over the last 30+ years.

The great staff at KissMetrics have compiled a plethora of great Branson advice. If you’re an entrepreneur chances are you’ve either heard some of Branson’s advice first hand, or second hand from a friend or colleague. Chances are you are already acting on something that’s come from his infinite wisdom and you don’t even realize it.

Below we’ve got four tips for avoiding startup mistakes that everyone could learn from. Before we dive into that though there are a couple other really important lessons you could learn from Sir Richard Branson.

Your First Year is all about surviving.

Although I’m a serial entrepreneur and have had two successful exits neither was easy in the beginning, and nibletz has been even harder. Branson says:

“In a company’s first year, your goal should be simply to survive, and this will likely take everything you’ve got. No matter how tired or afraid you are, you have to figure out how to keep going.”

Always take notes.

We know always be closing and all those other ABC’s but Branson is a die hard when it comes to taking notes. Whenever he is meeting with anyone he is always taking notes. I personally just started taking notes with paper and pen rather than on my iPad. It makes whoever I’m talking with more comfortable and writing things down with a pen actually helps you remember them.

Branson says:

“Anyone who aspires to lead a company must develop a habit of taking notes. I carry a notebook everywhere I go.”

In this article from entrepreneur magazine, Branson shares Four Tips For Avoiding Statup MistakeStay on target – You need to be clear and concise in explaining your idea. Branson says that the shorter the pitch is, the clearer it will be. Don’t plan too many years in advance, and stay on target.

  1. Be realistic about costs – Don’t underestimate the cost that it will take to launch your company. Branson says that JetBlue needed $160 million to launch. Conventional wisdom said that cost was too high and they wouldn’t be able to raise that much capital. But they did and had one of the most successful launches in airline history and turned a profit after only six months.
  2. Hire people you need, not people you like – It’s been said that people would rather work with people they like than people who are competent. Branson says entrepreneurs may want to stay away from working with friends because, if they don’t work out, it will be difficult letting them go.
  3. Know when to say goodbye – Entrepreneurs need to know when to step away from the CEO role. This doesn’t mean turning your back on the business, but realizing you’ll have a new role in the company which will allow you to focus more. It also doesn’t mean that you cannot return to running the company, as Larry Page did at Google.

We highly suggest you check out this Kissmetrics piece on Richard Branson, don’t forget a note pad.

Great startups will learn a lot here. Check it out.