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6 Ways To Protect Your Startup’s Most Valuable Asset: You

As the founder, CEO, and visionary of your new start-up, your company is dependent on you.

Originally Published May 21, 2015

It started with just an idea. With time, effort, and planning, you turned it into a viable venture. Now, your startup business is proving itself in the marketplace, attracting customers and generating real sales. What are you doing to protect your startup’s most valuable asset? What is it, you ask? Look in the mirror.

Anybody who knows anything about me knows that I take health, fitness, and nutrition very seriously. As I am fond of saying, I work out because I am a professional athlete in the game of life, and I play to win. For me, it’s not about vanity or the numbers on the scale but about my ability to perform, compete, and bring lasting value to the people and things I care about, including my business and professional pursuits. The things I enjoy, the goals I want to accomplish, and my ability to bring my very best to my commitments and relationships depend on me treating life, health, and strength as the valuable gifts they are.

Similarly, as the founder, CEO, and visionary of your new startup, your company is dependent on you. So it follows that you have a responsibility to your employees, your investors, your customers and vendors, and most of all, yourself, to protect that asset. That means:

Take your health seriously

Schedule your annual physical now if it’s been more than a year since your last one. More importantly, do what your doctor says is necessary to maintain optimum health and to support your demanding entrepreneurial lifestyle. Don’t have a personal physician? Get one.

Get and stay fit

Dealing with the demands and stress of being an entrepreneur requires endurance, strength, and energy. That means committing to a healthy diet and making exercise a non-negotiable. Schedule at least three workouts a week on your calendar just as you would any business meeting–and keep those appointments. No excuses. Get professional help in the form of a personal trainer and/or a nutritionist, if necessary. Think of these not as expenses but as investments.

Get serious about making necessary changes in habits and lifestyle

Stop smoking. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum if you drink at all. Cut out processed foods, unhealthy fats, and excess sugars. Add more lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water. Does it cost more to eat healthier? Perhaps. Are you worth it? Absolutely. And you’ll be worth even more as the size and value of your company increases.

Get adequate sleep

There will be times when you have to pull double- and triple-shifts to get the job done, but those should be kept to a minimum. Establishing a 6-hour minimum sleep rule, going to bed, and waking up at the same scheduled time daily is critical for maintaining physical health and mental focus. (Admittedly, I’m still working on this one.) Look for opportunities to supplement your sleep diet with some power naps along the way.

Come up with a plan for managing stress

Pressure, tension, and conflict can’t always be avoided but can be managed. Explore methods such as meditation, prayer, deep breathing, or just daily quiet time to keep stress from getting out of hand and impacting your health, which includes mental and emotional wellness. Need professional help from a counselor or therapist? Get it.

Take time for you and you alone

An hour a day. One day a week. A weekend each month. And at least one real vacation a year. It won’t be easy, but it won’t happen if you don’t make it a priority.

Whenever you are tempted to neglect yourself for the sake of your business, ask yourself–what would happen to my company if I became ill or died, or even just functioned at less than my best? Taking care of business must include taking care of you. Entrepreneurship can be a grind; it is not for the malnourished or unfit. You owe it to your business to be at your very best at all times.

Here’s what I know: There are few things sadder than a talented entrepreneur with a brilliant startup idea suddenly dying or falling prey to a debilitating health condition before he or she can reach the peak of his or her powers and realize the full potential of the business. You know that saying, “Health is wealth”? It’s true.

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