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You probably don’t need to be told that running a start-up is hard. It is on your mind 24 hours, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. When you’re playing with your kids, it’s on your mind. When you’re at dinner with your partner, you’re thinking about tomorrow’s meeting. You are not an employee who simply has to fulfil a specific role in a business; you are responsible for the success of the business as a whole.  As a founder or owner, whatever it is you are concerned about, you are generally not going to tell your team because you want them to stay positive. Thus you keep to yourself and you don’t tell them when times are hard or that you had to take out a further loan to finance their salaries when a few slow months weaken your bank accounts.

Here are a few things that can help avoid startup stress and burnout:

Volunteer

Putting yourself at the lowest level gives you a view of your company that you don’t normally get to see. Volunteering can give you a fresh perspective on your business and the way that you approach difficult situations. Businesses that promote volunteering initiatives enjoy greater employee satisfaction, higher morale, and as a result greater productivity and profitability. Volunteering can also improve your community perception and related marketing opportunities. As a local business, your relationship to your community is symbiotic. When they thrive, they’re more likely to support your business. Celebrate your success to date by giving back. Look around and find volunteering opportunities that fit with your business.

When volunteering, use this time to reflect and get a new outlook on your approach to your business. Capture your thoughts by writing them down or record voice notes. You might want to share some of your insights in your next team meeting.

Mentor

Growing a successful business is difficult at the best of times. You’ll often find you need a wide range of skills and experience. It can bring new challenges, from staffing, or where to get hold of new capital through to managing cash flow, or finding new markets and getting your products or services out to them. Why not share some of the valuable lessons that you have learnt so far with other startups by getting involved in mentoring? Mentoring other startups can be extremely fulfilling as it is an opportunity for you to reflect on your business learning process and to use these experiences to help others navigate their way through the startup phase.

Mentoring is more than the transfer of advice, knowledge and insights. A mentorship relationship offers reciprocal benefits for mentors willing to invest their time in developing another business founder. It  gives the personal satisfaction of sharing skills and experience with a mentee and also provides some tangible benefits that can reward mentors professionally. Some of these benefits can include:

  • recognition as a subject matter expert and leader
  • exposure to fresh ideas and approaches
  • extension of professional development record
  • opportunity to reflect on their own goals and practices
  • development of personal leadership and coaching styles
  • contribute to your BBB-EE scorecard

Finding a place to offer your mentoring services can be as simple as finding a startup in your sector who needs guidance or getting in contact with a startup support programme near you.

Practice a hobby

This might sound like something you read many years ago in a cheap paperback book that you got on holistic wellbeing for your birthday, but it really is something that can distract you from stress related to your business. A hobby is defined as a regular activity that is done for enjoyment, typically during one's leisure time. Hobbies can include collecting themed items and objects, engaging in creative and artistic pursuits, playing sports, or pursuing other amusements.

Hobbies provide a slice of work-free and responsibility-free time in your schedule. This can be especially welcome for if you feel overwhelmed by all that they have to do, and need to recharge your batteries. If you feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of getting your cash flow right or securing new business, it may be difficult to find the time or give yourself permission to take a break from a busy schedule and just sit and relax. Engaging in hobbies, however, can provide a break with a purpose, which can help you feel that you’re not just ‘sitting around’, but are using your down time for something productive. Either way, hobbies provide a nice break in a busy week.

Exercise

Are you stuck in the office in front of computers all day and then in meetings until 6pm, only to come home to sit down and eat and watch TV or to sit at your computer to get last minute work done? Sound familiar? Instead of watching TV or the news, why not take a walk around the block? You can take a walk with some music playing. Invite your family with and take some time to clear your mind.

Physical exercise is important for both physical and mental health. Taking a half hour after work or on a weekend can get your blood pumping, your endorphins flowing, and revitalize your spirit. You'll build muscle, burn calories, and oxygenate your brain, giving you a release after a day of stress. Exercising regularly also helps you remain disciplined, which can be valuable in a demanding work environment, and can reduce the long-term effects of stress. You'll also look better and feel better, which gives you greater confidence to tackle challenges in your business.

Use this knowledge in your business and know that your team are the ones who are pulling your business along the seas of what we call the daily grind. Be kind, be balanced and be involved by seeing things through other’s perspectives.

Sources:

 Benefits of corporate volunteer programs - http://www.frontstream.com/3-benefits-of-corporate-volunteer-programs/

Benefits of employee volunteering - http://volunteeringvictoria.org.au/volunteer/volunteering-through-work/benefits-of-employee-volunteering/

5 Ways Volunteering Can Help Grow Your Business - https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/5-ways-volunteering-can-help-grow-your-business/

Business mentoring - http://ideasinpartnership.co.uk/business-mentoring/

What are the benefits of mentoring? - http://www.michaelpage.com.cn/advice/management-advice/leadership/what-are-benefits-mentoring

7 Ways Successful People Spend Their Free Time - http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/7-ways-successful-people-spend-their-free-time.html

The Importance of Hobbies For Stress Relief - http://stress.about.com/od/funandgames/a/The-Importance-Of-Hobbies-For-Stress-Relief.htm