Author: Gary Taylor, MSW, Owner of Uphold 31:8
No one wants to speak about the challenges they face when owning their own business. Conversations instead are competitive in nature. What does that mean? Well it means typically for us black business owners, we rather talk about our success versus our challenges and failures. Maybe that is just entrepreneurship or maybe that’s black culture.
“Never let them see you sweat.”
“Never show weakness.”
“Always be two steps ahead.”
Typically, you hear the challenging stories of entrepreneurs after they have become successful. The speaking at seminars, tell-all books, talk shows and radio appearances, it all comes out. What about hearing those challenge in the moment?
We fail to realize how mental health is a primary factor in everything we do in life. Owning your own business can create a multitude of mental health symptoms that we fail to address. Securing the bag is our favorite moniker (thanks DJ Khaled), however is securing the bag more important than your mental, physical and spiritual well-being?
My inner circle is comprised of multiple black business owners, those who I grew up with, graduated college with or just met along the way. We tend to have a tight-knit group so we talk about any and everything. However, there are times where we don’t share all of what we are going through mentally until it has passed. There’s not even a mention when networking with other black business owners, because typically the topic of conversation is how can we both help each other monetarily. This is a problem and before it gets worse I would like to address it here.
What I do know, is the immense pressure of being a black business owner and all that it entails. I know for a fact that we all deal with mental health symptoms and sometimes an illness. I will list the symptoms and see if you can find yourself in them.
Lack of sleep
Lack of motivation, creativity
Just to name a few, I guarantee you have experienced a couple of those if not more. It comes with the territory but is heightened while owning a business. A lot of entrepreneurs like to schedule out their time daily and weekly. If you don’t, then now is the time. I often see those make time for clients, business meetings, emails, new projects etc. The schedule is typically built around their business and consumer base. What tends to be left off, is the owner. If you do not write yourself into your daily schedule then how can you ever be an effective business owner; how can you properly serve your clientele?
The mind and body are synonymous they work hand in hand. We believe that the physical trumps the mental when in reality it doesn’t. The mind if pushed too far will shut the body down. The mind if stressed out too much and neglected can lead to mental health symptoms as mentioned above and at times a mental illness. My father always told me work smarter not harder. The system you put in place now will serve to benefit you in the long run.
How efficient are you at your craft?
Are you able to work for 6 hours a day versus the traditional 8 and still maximize profits?
Do you work 8 hours and then some, including reading emails in the middle of the night, working weekends and around the clock?
I know it can be a lot and may be difficult to follow, but I want you to explore making a schedule that includes you, the owner in it. Here is a list of objectives to help you maintain your mental health while owning your business:
- If solely you are a business owner, figure out how to best maximize your time and profit. How long does it take you to serve your clients, and are their ways to do it efficiently. Time is money! Time is the greatest commodity we have, use it wisely!
- If you have a part-time business with a full-time job, figure out how to best maximize your time and profit during the week and weekend. If your long-term goal is to be a full-time entrepreneur, make sure you create a timeframe in order to do so,
- While scheduling out meetings, clients, projects and calls be sure to schedule in time for yourself, along with family time daily! There is nothing worse working all day, and never giving time to yourself or family in the process.
- Network, but network with purpose not just about business objectives. Ask other business owners how they manage their stress and the challenges of owning a business. You will be surprised at the answers, either they aren’t or they have a great process that you never thought about.
- Take the time to unwind, meaning unplug before bed. This means not answering emails after a certain time, I would say 8pm. Anything related to your business should start at a certain time, and end at a certain time.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep. Be sure you are getting the adequate hours of sleep nightly. Most can function anywhere from 5-9 hours of sleep. You should know how many hours of sleeps equals productivity. I typically need 6 to 7 hours of solid sleep to be productive. I have heard of those who function off of 4-5 hours.
- Proper appetite is a given you would think, but not always the case. Drinking plenty of water helps with clarity and those stress filled days where you are dragging. The type of food you are ingesting also plays a factor into how you mentally perform. Be mindful and make sure you are feeding your mind with plenty of brain food!
- Understand when you are you the most productive and build your schedule around it. I find my greatest productivity is around 11am-1pm, and evenings around 5-7pm. The times where you are not most productive, should be times where you are taking a break and doing something to take your mind off work. The mind is not made to constantly work, work and work let alone stare at a computer screen for hours at a time. Think about how much the mind is subconsciously working without you knowing. Then add on your business. Take care of your mind, and it will take care of you.
- Lastly, never get complacent. Continue to learn and grow. Seek out new opportunities, and challenges. It will help aide in your mental health and help grow your business. Mental Health = how you deal with day to day life stressors.