When you’re a startup founder or an entrepreneur, you work under so much pressure and have so many different issues to deal with, the thought of adding an extra activity to your plate can be daunting. However, I’ve found that taking time out for reflection in the form of developing a regular writing routine can be highly beneficial while you’re growing your business.
Whether you’re writing about something you’re specifically working on, wider thoughts and issues, or even fiction, writing can help with everything from improved creativity and problem solving, to better stress and time management. But you don’t have to just take my word for it, I’ve also spoken with a number of successful founders who find writing regularly extremely helpful and below are some of the main reasons why and how it could benefit you too:
1) It can help you to be a better leader and connect with others
Some of the entrepreneurs I speak to who have managed to cultivate a regular writing habit prefer to keep their thoughts private (say, in a diary) while others see the benefit in openly publishing their insights in order to share them with the wider world. In my experience, the latter can be a really powerful way to build both your personal or business profile, as well as make new connections.
Some of the articles I’ve written in the past for example, have been read and shared by CEOs of public companies that I may not have been able to reach otherwise. Also, from an HR standpoint, making your thoughts accessible through writing can help you build credibility both with existing and potential employees, as it enables them to gain a deeper understanding into what makes a company and its founders really tick.
2) It increases your understanding of yourself and the world around you
For ambitious business leaders and founders, not only being knowledgeable but also being open to ongoing learning is essential. In many ways, writing is synonymous with learning, as the process of formalising your thoughts can help you gain clarity, explore new avenues and ask important questions.
For David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of Basecamp and co-author of business books such as Remote and Rework, using writing as a tool to assimilate and increase knowledge is key. David says:
My preferred way to think through a topic or an idea is to commit it to paper. There’s always something new to learn, to understand, to digest and for me, doing that through writing is the best way.
3) It’s a form of mindfulness and stress management
If you’re part of a startup community, either through an accelerator program or a co-working space, you’ve likely been invited to join workshops or talks about mindfulness and meditation: how you should be deliberately aware of your body, mind, and feelings in the present moment, in order to create a feeling of calm. That’s because building a company is stressful, but is joining a meditation class the only way to deal with this? Not necessarily.
Writing regularly (even for just 20 minutes a day) can be an equally effective way to reflect and find peace of mind. Rather than thinking of it as another thing to ‘tick off the list’, reframe writing as relaxation time and a chance to experience pressure-free creativity, away from the demands of the working day.
4) It encourages honesty and can help you deal difficult situations
Sometimes, it’s only when you write something down that you can really get to the heart of the matter — it encourages openness and transparency because it’s right there in black and white. In this way, writing can be an important a first step to articulating a thought or action you want to move forward with, or dealing with an issue that’s been bothering you.
For example, two highly influential VC’s — Brad Feld from Foundry Group and Fred Wilson from Union Square Ventures — both write and publish their thoughts on a daily basis, about both personal and business observations and situations. It’s how they share their opinions, interact with the startup community and to some extent, do their own therapy. They don’t shy away from difficult subjects either: when something hurts or problems are encountered, they write about it and work through it.
5) It can wake up your creativity and spark new ideas
Good ideas and the ability to creatively solve problems are essential skills for making any project or venture a success and this is another area where regular writing can really help. Whether it’s working on a business-related blog post or something completely different, such as a short story, writing can really help you to energize the creative side of your brain.
In my experience, being too blinkered and focused in on the task at hand can sometimes mean you miss the big picture, so taking a step back to explore your thoughts creativity through writing can be a great antidote to this. An advocate of this concept, Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org says:
Whether it’s writing stories or creating code, creativity and self-expression are critical to being human in our global and connected world.
So in summary, before you say ‘but I don’t have time’ or ‘I’ve got too much to do’ consider the ways writing regularly could have a positive impact on your business and even your life in general, it certainly works for me.