"No rest for the weary" is often the mantra for anyone leading an early stage venture. As a founder you wear every hat and do everything you have to in order to succeed. In the fail fast pursuit of being first to market, health, diet and sleep get pushed to the side for the day the startup "makes it".
Founder and CEO of Cisse Trading Company, Diana Lovett, has experienced "no rest" first hand. But it wasn't until Diana found herself hovered over her laptop in her hospital gown managing purchase orders less than 24 hours after giving birth to her daughter, that she knew she had to make some changes. That hospital bed moment forced her to take a long hard look her company, her leadership and her achievements. At that moment, she finally acknowledged that Cisse had hit some major product and sales milestones (Cisse products are now carried in a "Club" store, she had a successful launch of a new ready to eat snack line under her belt, and the company had revenue to justify shoring up the team) and it was time to approach business (and life) just a little differently.
Running a company with two young kids was burning the candle at both ends. I realized I had to make a change so that I could be at my best at work and at home. --Diana Lovett.
Rather than wait for a trip to the doctor or ER to have your own AHA! business moment, Diana offers these business and morale boosting tips:
1.Create a Vacation Policy
Diana says for the first three years Cisse was in business, there were no rules about vacation time or a plan for coverage when one of her 2-3 employees was out. When a team member took time off, Diana would end up just picking up the slack so she never got a break. With a new vacation policy, the team has a schedule and a plan so that responsibilities are shared and Diana can take time off, too.
2. Take Back Weekends
In the early days of the business, Diana, a mom of a preschooler and infant, spent most weekends driving up and down the East coast demo-ing Cisse's line of baking mixes and hot cocoa wherever she could. It was exhausting. Often she and her team would do 3-4 demos in a weekend. Now they outsource this critical outreach to established demo companies so she and the team can enjoy time off to recharge.
3. Lean on Advisers
Diana sought very specific industry experts from the get go to help her launch the business and she has continued to rely on them ever since. Finding people who have narrow expertise in the natural foods space, for example, saves her stress and time when she has a question because they are just an email or phone call away. It takes the burden of decision-making from falling solely on her shoulders.
4. Forgo Drinks and Dinners
Team outings can be great motivators but Diana found that doing them at night really didn't go over well. She now looks for opportunities to bond with her employees in the afternoons like the regular "Fro-Yo" Fridays where everyone goes across the street to the local frozen yogurt shop and gets a 3pm treat.
5. Put the Phone Away
Diana makes it a habit to zip up her iPhone in her purse when walks in the door of her home at 7pm. She says it allows her to be present for her kids during the bedtime routine and also gives her a much needed mental break after a long day. Her team knows that's her off-time too.