I'm here to really question the rising focus on self-care for entrepreneurs. The fad has grown to the point that it can feel like if you're not taking time to meditate at work or write in a gratitude journal, you're somehow failing. Particularly aimed at women--the popular #selfcare hashtag on Instagram is dominated by women and feminine products--it has become yet another unreasonable expectation placed on us.
Just because I reject the self-care movement doesn't mean I don't take care of myself as a founder and CEO though. On the contrary, I think taking care of yourself is so important that we are missing the point by talking about self-care tips and tricks. Instead, we need to be talking about building sustainable companies.
Over 90 percent of startups don't last past two years and I've been building my company for over four now. The number one reason startups fail is that founders don't find product-market fit. In order to persevere long enough to find product-market fit and grow a successful business, I knew from the start I had to build my company so that I would want to work there for a long time.
If you want to give your company the same competitive edge, here are three steps you can take that will allow you to run a company you can personally stay at for a long time--and none of them have anything to do with sheet masks.
Put Your Health First
If you don't have your health--including your mental health--it's hard to do much else. Putting your health first means taking time to truly rest when you're sick, getting your annual physical, and taking other preventative care measures. It also means that dollars spent on great health insurance for you and the team is money well spent.
At Winnie, we offer above market health plans for employees by default because maintaining our own health and that of our loved ones is so critical to our ability to do our job as founders. We'd rather hire fewer people than not have great health care.
Pay Yourself a Real Salary
So many entrepreneurs withhold their own salary to have more money for their company. I too have been guilty of this. For the first couple years of running Winnie, I gave my employees raises by deducting money from my already tiny paycheck.
Once I realized that without a reasonable salary, I was eating into my own savings, making it unsustainable for me, my attitude shifted. Remember, as a founder you are vital to your company's survival. No employee is more valuable than the founders in the early stages. One of the most important ways you can spend company money is using it to ensure you yourself can keep working at the company.
Say No Often
As you become more successful, people will demand more of your time. Everyone from investors to other founders to big companies will be interested in a "quick phone call" or a coffee meeting. If you're not careful, your entire calendar can be filled with requests being made for your time instead of how you want to spend it.
There's a fine line between helping others and having your time taken advantage of. You need to get comfortable setting limits and not feeling bad for doing what's best for you and your company.
Ultimately, it's okay if your skin is imperfect and you miss a yoga class (heck, I have never even taken a yoga class). The key is enabling yourself to work on your business for a long time as there are very few overnight successes. If yoga helps you do that, great. If not, then don't let the idea of self-care be yet another thing on your to-do list. Focus on what's critical to your survival like your health, your bank account, and your time, and build your company in a way that preserves those precious resources.