Running a business isn’t easy. Starting a new venture can double down on the pressure, multiplying the intensity of both the highs and the lows. Taking care of your mental and physical health will set the stage for success.
With an entrepreneurial resume extending back to his high school years, Austin Andrukaitis, the entrepreneur and CEO behind ChamberofCommerce.com, has developed a sustainable way to deal with the daily grind and the inevitable stress of launching and leading a startup.
Begin before the starting line
It all starts with planning.
“I spend 15 to 30 minutes each night working on a plan for the next day for myself and my team,” Andrukaitis said. “It’s important to do this when things are fresh in your mind from the day’s events. This also allows me to hit the ground running the next day. When I know exactly what I need to do, I’m more efficient with my time throughout the day.”
Plus, he added, getting a plan and the related notes down on paper helps him clear his mind, preventing wandering, work-related thoughts from keeping him awake.
Dream a little dream
With a plan in place, a good night sleep is crucial.
A restful night refreshes mind and body, both of which can contribute to a more productive day. Similarly, a consistent sleep schedule can offer numerous benefits, including better health, which can translate into improved focus at work.
“Before my child was born, I was able to get seven hours of sleep a night,” Andrukaitis said. “I believe this helped me consistently perform at a high level. I’m also fortunate in that I can sneak in a short nap in the middle of the day if I need to. I’ve always been able to fall asleep within a few minutes and wake up feeling like it’s a new day.”
If a good night sleep provides a pound of mental and physical health benefits, physical activity and regular exercise offers a ton, and then some.
“Exercise is a time when I get to push myself physically,” Andrukaitis said. “I typically work out three to four times per week. I also eat relatively clean during the week. On weekends, I give myself a little break so I don’t burn out.”
Think about it
Sleep sets the foundation. Physical exercise builds on that foundation. Maintaining your mental health, including your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, brings the whole package together.
“Mental health affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life,” Andrukaitis said. “This is something I think everyone is continuously working on, or should be.”
He schedules a daily time for yoga and meditation.
“That’s my time where I get to think about nothing and listen to my body,” he said, noting there are tons of apps out in the ether to help you maintain the habit.
Inside and out
While it can be relatively easy to take care of yourself, Andrukaitis quickly found new demands on his time as he pushed into new ventures. He quickly learned the value and the necessity of delegation.
“I’ve seen a lot of people try to take on everything themselves, myself included,” he said. “I was fortunate to have a lot of good mentors throughout my life. They helped me realize you shouldn’t be afraid to have the people who work for you handle important tasks, even if they don’t do as good as a job as you might.
“Being a CEO or founder, you need to be able to identify the tasks that can be passed onto someone else and get them off your plate. This will help empower your team and create more opportunities in the future.”
The highs and the lows
Every cloud has a silver lining, the saying goes. The opposite is also true.
While still working a 9-to-5 in his 20s, one of his side hustles earned Andrukaitis his first six-figure contract.
“I felt like I was taking over the world,” Andrukaitis said. “I essentially earned double my annual salary with this one project. It was exactly what entrepreneurs look for in a business opportunity.”
Sounds great, right? However, stress crept in around the edges as he looked at the future. Could he maintain the momentum of that single contract? Was it a one-and-done quirk? Should he drop the 40-hours-per-week job? If so, when?
He offered another example from the other direction. While rebuilding the ChamberofCommerce.com platform for a relaunch, the site was hacked. Ransomware was used to demand hundreds of bitcoin.
“With the website down, I wasn’t generating any money,” he said. “At this point, I felt like I fell down the entire mountain I had been climbing for years.”
He turned to a trusted developer to create a temporary site so ChamberofCommerce.com didn’t lose their Google rankings.
“Having someone willing to work as hard yourself and care as much as you do is tough to find,” Andrukaitis said. “I’m grateful to have him as a business partner today. There will always be the highs of getting a huge contract or a campaign taking off, but there are also the times when a big client doesn’t renew or a campaign falls flat.”
Putting it to work
“An entrepreneur is resilient,” he said. “They are calm, aware, and realistic. When a problem comes up, they think through the situation, the options, and the potential outcomes. As an entrepreneur, you’re always building and chasing the next opportunity. If you are not, you will fail. That’s a lot of stress to manage. The fact that I have been able to develop a schedule, a process, to take care of my mental and physical health goes a long way toward my success.”
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