The stresses involved in launching and running your own business are multi-fold, and long hours can often lead to entrepreneurs skipping meals and not getting enough sleep.
However, according to one US founder, entrepreneurs who find themselves neglecting these essentials would do well to pause, take a step back and assess their situation.
Writing on Medium, Crema founder George Brooks says the first two questions he asks every entrepreneur are: are you eating, and are you sleeping?
“These are simple questions,” says the creator of the US-based tech and innovation agency.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
“But they get at the heart of the basic needs of a human. Food, drink, shelter, sleep and oxygen.”
Brooks says while the likely answer for most business operators will be “yes”, the questions “get at the underlying grinding nature” and the challenges involved in starting or running a company.
What’s on the menu?
When pushing to a deadline or seeking to finish off that last piece of work before calling it a day, the furthest thing from mind may be taking the time to eat properly.
In fact, some entrepreneurs may become so absorbed in their work that they overlook eating all together.
Brooks notes the eating question in turn leads to two sub-questions: “are you stopping long enough to feed your body?”, and “are you making enough money to actually eat?”
“I still remember the day that one of our clients had missed their payments, and we realised they didn’t get the funding they had thought was a sure thing,” Brooks writes. “In the meeting, they expressed that they had been living off large jars of peanut butter to get by.”
While many startup founders will be familiar with the term “ramen profitable”, Brooks says being able to afford enough to eat strikes at the heart of the viability of a new company.
“Have you found a business model that creates value, revenue or potential opportunity for investment in a way that you have some money in your bank account to buy a sandwich?” he asks.
Napping, sleeping, or none of the above?
Finding a balance between hard graft and adequate sleep is important, with lack of sleep potentially leading to weakened performance, among other health concerns.
With everyone having different sleep requirements, it is a matter of finding balance at an individual level.
Brooks notes that the sleeping question also brings into focus two sub-questions: “have you reached a season in your business where you are not doing everything?”, and, “is you[r] mental and stress level dialled down enough that you can actually turn your brain off and go to sleep?”
The first questions relates to putting the right processes in place within your business and spreading the workload across a team.
The second points to the ability to switch off, recharge and then tackle the next day with vim.
How did you ever get by without it?
Attitudes to eating and sleeping can be cyclical. It may be that you one day look back on your entrepreneurial path and wonder how you ever got by without either.
Then, the next opportunity presents itself, and you again find yourself trying to find a balance between working, eating and sleeping.
“In the early days, the waves can tend to be relentless, tiring and brutal,” writes Brooks.
“Yet if you can catch them just right, it’s exciting and fun, and you just can’t wait for the next one.”