It can be stressful and lonely at the top. What's a business owner to do when the pressure of running a company seems too much to bear? We asked a few members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization for their best coping strategies.
Develop guidelines for stress relief.
"After two startup failures, we built a successful template that we went on to use in all of our future ventures. Our stress-relief template includes quiet rooms for staff to relax and recharge, flexible hours, unlimited vacation, and a no-internal-email policy between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m."
--Bill Faeth, EO Nashville
Co-founder and CEO, Inbound Marketing Agents
Solidify a shared vision.
"I genuinely believe that everyone at Punchkick wants to help us grow and achieve success. But in order to allow that to happen, I've worked hard to ensure we have a shared vision. Transparency in the good times and bad has helped me align myself with my team and vice versa. Dinners with my co-workers, weekend brunches, and late-night work sessions have all united us in ways I can't describe."
--Zak Dabbas, EO Chicago
President, Punchkick Interactive
Share and distribute.
"The best way I've found to effectively manage the stress of entrepreneurship is to share it. As a first step, hiring amazing people and empowering them to take ownership of goals is a great mechanism. However, at the end of the day, I know it comes down to me."
--Pavel Sokolovsky, EO Chicago
President, Ecomfort Holdings
Find and enjoy your passions.
"I get a great deal of joy and relaxation by cooking, going shopping at the local farmers' markets, mountain biking, and hiking. I tend to work 50-plus hours a week, but I find time to enjoy my passions and escape the pressure of work."
--Peter Taffae, EO Los Angeles
Managing director, Executive Perils, Inc.
Surround yourself with peers.
"I find that surrounding myself with other entrepreneurs, whether through personal networks or professional ones, is the most effective way to not feel so lonely. It never ceases to amaze me how similar all of our stories are, whether it has to do with the challenges of balancing work and family, making decisions in our companies, or living a healthy lifestyle. Being able to share our experiences with one another allows me to get perspective on how other entrepreneurs have dealt, or are dealing, with similar struggles."
--Jeff Nazar, EO Los Angeles
Change your scenery.
"Twice a year, I'll pack up my laptop, I'll pick a country, and then I'll settle into that country for a month or so. After 16 years in business and more than 40 countries visited, I've found that this keeps me fresh and relaxed. In addition, it gives me new perspective on my work. I am seeing firsthand how people of different cultures are utilizing technology and how the global village we serve is actually operating."
--Michael Gellman, EO Colorado
Build a support group.
"One great way I learned to manage this feeling was when I discovered a subculture of informal board of adviser groups. Having a confidential place where I can share challenges and get advice on things I never had to do myself is just fabulous! We can discuss things that we would never discuss with employees, and we have the benefit of group members' experiences on how to handle very challenging situations."
--Cheryl Biron, EO New Jersey
President and CEO, One Horn Transportation