Every business has one or more key personalities that determine its success, whether through their example to others, the breadth of their industry knowledge, or the dozens of little decisions they make on a daily basis. Think of these people as key cogs in the enterprise gearbox: if they are 1% off, the effects are multiplied ten or a hundredfold. If you are an entrepreneur, that person is you.
You might want to think that you can always operate at 100% of your capacity, like a robot, through sheer willpower – but this is simply not true. A recent Harris poll found that one in five Americans avoid going to the doctor, often resulting in discovering health issues far too late.
What these folks don’t understand is that the time you invest in yourself, and in how others perceive you, can be every bit as important as the time you spend developing your business. Be especially careful to balance the following four non-financial accounts:
Your Blood Pressure
If you’ve ever accepted a crucial position at a major company, a medical checkup was very likely part of the interview process. This may have been for insurance purposes, but there is also another reason: healthy people are more productive, handle stress better and are less prone to errors.
How often do you check your blood pressure? If you only get it checked by your doctor that you avoid seeing for months, if not years, at a time, then you’re not checking it as often as you should.
According to the Mayo Clinic, healthy blood pressure means having a readout of 120 (or less) over 80 (or less). Still too frightened to visit your doctor to check where you fall? Go to you local pharmacy and do a self test. If your numbers are above 140 over 90, you’re one of 75 million Americans with high blood pressure or hypertension according to the CDC.
But blood pressure is only an indicator of a larger health question. The point here is: are you taking care of yourself? Diet, sleep, exercise, stress management, and drug/alcohol use are all observable indicators of health. If you were to boil down your overall health into one number, would it be acceptably high or worryingly low? More importantly, how can you raise your health quotient?
Whether in business or with family and friends, strengthening relationships with others will make a huge difference in your quality of life. The one time in a hundred you require a rush order, or someone to talk to after a rough day, will you be able to count on another’s help?
We all want relationships where we gain as much as we give. While doing things such as remembering birthdays and anniversaries requires little effort on your part, it can mean a great deal to those around you.
According to the late Steven R. Covey, it makes sense to think of your relationships with others as a bank account, where actions which raise their confidence in you are the deposits you make, while those that require mental, emotional or physical effort on their part are withdrawals.
If you make more deposits than withdrawals over the long term, that person will always be there for you when you need them. If you constantly demand more than you give, you will eventually find your account with that person closed – with no credit granted.
Your Personal Credit Score
There are very few businesses in the world that are self-financing to the point where they don’t require supplier credit, new investment, or term loans. What is not immediately obvious is that you, as the entrepreneur, have to keep your own financial house in order, or it can adversely affect your business.
Just as you wouldn’t use the services of a psychologist whose personal life is a mess, lenders and investors will often look at your personal finances and credit score, as well as the creditworthiness of your business, before making a decision. With many entrepreneurs financing their businesses at least partly out of their own assets, this is to be expected.
Unsecured debt, a history of irresponsible credit card use, or even dumb things like an unpaid bill you’ve long forgotten about can all negatively impact your credit rating. Remember that you are entitled to view your own credit score, and don’t neglect to do so before seeking investment or credit – preferably long before.
You can track your score through free services like CreditKarma, and if needed, enlist the help of credit repair firms like Lexington Law. Many credit blemishes can be removed in a reasonable amount of time if you know what you’re doing, or work with someone who does.
I’m sure you’re smart, but intelligence that isn’t applied is of no use to man or beast. In many professions, whether engineering, law, medicine or commerce, lifelong learning is a given. Especially in a business that relies on technology in any way, you just cannot rely on what you knew yesterday.
Simply paying attention to market trends and new products in your own industry is not enough. Reading outside your field may provide you with new insights, help you identify new opportunities and challenge the faulty preconceptions that are holding you back.
Your options for gaining new knowledge are much wider today than they were ten years ago. Online courses in anything from cartography to programming are affordable, flexible in terms of time, and they follow world-class syllabi (although some people will still benefit more from conventional classes and seminars). Authoritative blogs and websites cover almost every topic imaginable.
If you are heading into truly unknown waters, talking to an expert is always a good idea. This need not be a paid consultant. People will often share the knowledge they’ve condensed over years in some industry for no more than the price of a good dinner and your attention.
Understandably, you want to put as much as possible into making your business a success, but don’t forget that taking care of yourself and your image in a broader sense is a fundamental part of that. As an entrepreneur, and as an individual, you form the keystone of your life. And if you pay attention to you first, your business will succeed greatly.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
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