What does it actually feel like to run a business with customers, staff, a public presence? A couple of real-life example:
I was running a creative agency and we were doing well, doubling turnover (and nearly doubling profitability) three years straight. Then we pitched for a fairly major government agency contract. We put a lot of work and creativity in and we won, a three-year, big fat contract.
When I found out I went out and bought a bottle of Champagne and put a bottle on everyone’s desks before they got in the following morning. Their faces, their excitement at the prospect of the work, was such a high point, I felt fantastic.
Let’s go back a year before that. I’d started the company and been sole director. Then I took on a co-director. It soon became obvious she was going to have to leave. My expensive, avoidable error.
She did not agree. We had meetings, lawyers, all sorts of unpleasantness. And then there was the final meeting. I’d set it up with the lawyers so I knew what I had to say. I had my PA on standby to record every minute of the meeting. It was at 9.30 one morning.
I can’t tell you how sick with worry and anxiety I was about that meeting which I knew was going to be horrible for everyone. I walked in to work with my stomach churning and my heart thumping so hard I thought I’d be sick. But we had the meeting, it went how it had to go and then she left.
That night, back home on my own, I felt such relief that I cried, actually cried. At that moment I didn’t want to run a company or employ people ever again, I wanted to grow my beard and go and live in a log cabin with foxes for playmates.
It’s A Rollercoaster
That’s just a microcosm of the experience of running a company. It’s a cliché to call it a rollercoaster ride, but it is. You have to be prepared not only for the exhilaration of the good bits but also the absolute stomach-churning terror of the bad bits. And, ultimately, the responsibility of absolutely everything rests on you.
Mind and Body
So your mental and physical health are not something you should brush to one side. They’re key. Vital. Your vital signs are vital for you and the business.
This doesn’t matter what age, gender, whatever you are. I’m not your granny, but eat right. You’re a machine. Fill it with the right – and sufficient – fuel or it will misfire. Your diet is down to you but eat fewer carbs, more protein, and far fewer sugars.
Drink right. Water, not sugary, carbonated drinks. Limit alcohol despite its welcoming embrace. Drugs ditto. Keep hydrated, keep sharp, keep going.
And keep healthy. You don’t need a gym membership to do press-ups, sit-ups, squats or walks/runs – with or without a weighted pack. Get outside, get the sunlight, get the air, get the good feeling. Go to the gym if you can, but remember you’re building core strength to keep you strong, not building muscles to look good.
Sound dull? You wait until you sense how you feel if you follow that for a while. You’ll feel unbeatable because you are now unbeatable, self-disciplined, strong and mentally resilient. And now you have strong shoulders and you can bear the weight.