Entrepreneurship Is a Marathon—Stop Treating It Like a Sprint

Entrepreneurship Shouldn’t Be About Survival Mode

I see entrepreneurs making survival decisions all the time. And pouring every moment into their business. Nights, weekends, their life savings. This is the hallmark of a good entrepreneur right? All in, all the time. No it’s not, and I can’t say it enough.

Running a business is a marathon, and yes there are times your business will need your nights, your weekends, your financial capital, but it can’t be everything all the time. That is completely unsustainable. Emotionally, mentally, and even physically. I’ve seen entrepreneurs that look ten years older than their W-2 friends. They will always say it is worth it, but is it necessary?

Taking Time off as an Entrepreneur

Your business won’t fall apart if you take a week off, and if it does, I’d argue you’re doing something wrong. There needs to be margin in your business, margin for error and a profit margin. There needs to be some duplication in function, some redundancy. I’m not saying corporate-level layers, but the ability for you to not work on weekends or nights most of the time (unless your business’s normal operations are nights and weekends, like a restaurant), but at least to have downtime every week at some point. To have the ability to take a vacation (gasp!) at least once a year.

If you don’t give yourself some time and space, eventually you will burn out. Not as quickly as you would if you were working the same hours for someone else, but the burnout will be a much bigger deal because you can’t just switch jobs. You have a business to run.

You may burn out before your business reaches its full potential and fail to get a return on investment. You may burnout and lose your investment in time and money. You may burn out before you can fulfill your mission. We don’t want any of those things to happen.

Entrepreneurs Need a Business Plan

In order to stop being reactive toward your business’s many needs, the key is to step back and build a proactive plan. A plan to take care of yourself first. Your business will thank you in the long run.

How do you take care of yourself? Plan on hiring a little redundancy, a higher quality person or a process. Not sure if you can afford it? Make a business plan to think about all the things you can do and would need to do to take a day off a week or one vacation per year. Then, stretch that goal. Can you take off 2 days a week? That’s standard for most people in the United States. Can you take off your birthday or another floating holiday in addition to a vacation? Do you need to be in every client meeting, on every vendor call? Find employees you can trust and a way to pay them to stay so you can delegate a little more at a time.

Delegation won’t only help you get some downtime, but also help your business grow. You can only do so much, so if you are needed in every aspect of your business, the business can only expand to the capacity of you, not your team. And that really limits growth. In fact, it is one of the number one limitations of growth for startups and small businesses. CEOs micromanaging (you know who you are…) can also drastically limit growth. CEO micromanagement is how businesses get off the ground, but it isn’t how they grow into sustainable, larger entities. If you keep hitting a growth ceiling maybe it’s time not to buckle down, but to let go a little.

Dream big. This is your business. This is also your life. It’s time to stop using all your energy on that constant, unsustainable sprint. After all, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint.