To shed some light on this topic, we interviewed SCORE client Natalie Egan of Jump! Gymnastics. Natalie, the owner/director of this Texas-based gymnastics program for children, recently celebrated seven years in business. During that time she has endured many growing pains in finding the right balance in professional wellness.
Natalie shared with us several tips for how small business owners can create professional wellness - something that benefits not only themselves, but their employees as well.
What are some tips on managing stress, a big part of professional wellness, when first starting a business?
There will be several weeks/months that you work 16 hour days to get started, so when you wake up one day and you realize there is nothing to do, or you are in a holding pattern, don’t look for stuff. Grab a book, go to the movies, go camping. REST in the valley for a minute because the next hill is right around the corner and you need your energy and a fresh, uncluttered mind to navigate it.
What tips would you give more ‘seasoned’ owners?
After the start-up phase winds down, if you still find yourself working 50+ hours a week, hire someone to help you. The best advice I ever got was, “If you are working 50+ hours a week and your business is making money, your business is still a failure.” I was confused and appalled by this comment for a while, I felt like my mentor was devaluing my hard work and I didn’t feel that I had enough money/security to spend money on someone to help me. Furthermore, I didn’t have the time to train someone to help me. Some time went by and with a lot of convincing, I hired a manager/assistant. My life as a small business owner changed… I was working about 30 hours a week and was able to really appreciate what I had built and spend quality time with my clients and employees. My mentor was right…the money was fine and I was happier, my employees were happier and my clients were better taken care of.
Is there anything you do daily to maintain professional wellness?
Interesting question. I had a friend who started a business a bit before I did. I asked her this same question. She said, “It’s easy – I put in a 10 hour day, then there can be no guilt when I decide to stop working.” This actually works on those days that you have so much to do, but you are so tired or overwhelmed that you know you are not being productive and your time would be better spent winding down and relaxing.
What else? I work from home in the mornings and do not go into work until enough of my work is done that I can be 100% available to my employees and clients. If I cannot accomplish that and it is not vital that I come in that day, I stay home and finish my work because I am no good to anyone if I am not committed to giving them my undivided attention while at work.
What advice do you have for someone who may be dealing with a stressful situation and is looking for balance?
Do what is in front of you. Instead of freaking out, re-hashing the situation, complaining, feeling sorry for yourself, just start repairing the problem. Do the work that is in front of you and what needs to be done to move from the situation. Take action.