What’s your other thing?

Running a start-up is probably the most full-time job there is. A lot of the time you are not only the managing director but also the finance director, the marketing director, the sales director, the receptionist and even the janitor.


In addition to running the actual business, you also have to be constantly scoping the strategic landscape, keeping up-to-date with changes and developments that may affect your prospects. And that says nothing of the hours you spend lying in bed just plain worrying about the future.


The bottom line is that running a start-up business is an exhausting, all-consuming activity.


So, this advice is probably going to seem a little counter-intuitive: If you are running a start-up or planning on running one soon, you need to get yourself a hobby. You need to find something a world away from your business that can occupy your mind and body.


It could be anything – golf, gardening or Greek history, sewing, singing or spear fishing. What it is does not matter. What matters is that you are passionate about it and that it has the capacity to transport you a million miles away from your new business physically, emotionally and spiritually.


My passion is judo. I train a few times a week and it is an incredibly challenging activity. Not only does it keep me fit, which has its own benefits, it also completely occupies my mind for an hour or two because wrestling against another person is a very demanding exercise.


Now, I could make all these comparisons about how I learn valuable lessons about business through my judo training. And, indeed, those books have been written by others. But that is not the point. My hobby is – and so should yours – be done for its inherent value and enjoyment.


Having said that, there is always the possibility that a judo throw or strangle could come in handy during a tense negotiation with a supplier!


I find that when I am at judo training, the issues that have occupied my mind all day disappear. Actually, if I don’t lock them out of my mind, I end up getting thrown into the canvas, which is not particularly enjoyable!


I feel that by the end of the session, I am fully refreshed (and completely exhausted). For some reason, though, I also find that I have greater clarity and it’s a time when novel solutions pop into my head. It’s almost like my brain rewards me for giving it a break.


So, enough about me. If you are working in or on a start-up, don’t give up your passion for something else. You’ll actually find that having an interest outside of work is vital for staying both sane and effective.


And if you don’t have a hobby yet, find one. You and your business will thank you for it.


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