5 ways to become a better entrepreneur

Julian Hall
- Leadership - May 20, 2016

We are living in an era of disruption and change and it has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. All around us new companies are emerging across a wide range of sectors – the one thing they all have in common is their shared desire for upheaval, to challenge what has gone before and to move things forward.

This is a Golden age and yet, despite this buzz and excitement, there is a flip side that many entrepreneurs embarking on new ventures rarely consider. That flip side is pure and simply failure. Statistics tell us that despite initial enthusiasm 90 percent of startups fail (Forbes). In the UK 20 percent of businesses collapse in the first year and 50 percent within three (RSA).

In the face of such staggering odds it’s amazing that us entrepreneurs can drag ourselves out of bed in the morning – and yet most of us jump out of bed or never make it into bed in the first place. The problem is that eventually many of us burn out, the pressure gets too much and our physical and mental health suffers and, consequently so does our business – indeed depression is a big problem for entrepreneurs. According to Business Insider while only seven percent of the population suffer depression, but a whopping 30 percent of founders suffer from depression.

So what can be done about this?

A few years ago I noticed that the entrepreneurs who really seem to make it and are genuinely happy share a number of characteristics.

  • They take care of their physical and nutritional health
  • They take care of the mental health and well-being
  • They have strong relationships both personally and professionally
  • They truly love what they do - it’s not about the money for them

I dubbed these individuals “Ultrapreneurs” and wrote a book Entrepreneur to Ultrapreneur. I came to the conclusion that for Ultrapreneurs success is about far more than profit margins and bottom lines. It’s about life success.

Take Sir Richard Branson for example. Yes, he’s faced struggles and had to make tough choices, but through it all he’s maintained a strong sense of work life balance, humour and fun – and these characteristics have helped him deal with the hard times as well as enjoy the good times – and boy there have been some good times.

While most of us will never have RB’s level of success, we can apply certain principles that can help us on our entrepreneurial journey. Here are five simple tips anyone can apply:

1. Work Less, do more

We have been trained to believe that working 25 hours is the benchmark for performance. However, real performance is delivering the same output with less input. Tim Ferris of the acclaimed 4 Hour Work Week calls this ‘performance over presence’. The concepts discussed in his book are fast becoming popular in the entrepreneur community tired of being tired.

2. Scheduled sanity

I structure my calendar to allow for what I call ‘active downtime’.

It’s time I use to do something for pure enjoyment purposes. Catching up on my YouTube feed is a favourite of mine, or aimlessly trawling through my Facebook timeline.

Many of us would feel guilty for ‘not working’ but in effect the opposite is happening. You may get a flash of inspiration from ‘nowhere’ -  that’s the result of your mind receiving the sanity it needs to work things out without you even consciously knowing it.

3. Be easy, enjoy the ride

Entrepreneurs can be their biggest critics. Many suffer from issues of self-worth and this causes them to never feel ‘good enough’. Change that habit now! If you’re doing what you love then rejection may have an impact, but let your desire to execute on your idea help you overcome any set backs.

4. You are what you eat

The food we eat have both a gross and subtle effect on how we function. Simple rules of thumb include more water, more green foods, less red meat, alcohol, salt and sugar. Manage those and you’ll be doing better than the majority of the population.

5. Spread the love

If someone is always ill, struggles with stress or has a drama-filled personal life, you can be sure that this will negatively impact your business at some point. Don’t just see them as a work horse, try to help them (if you can). In the end you’ll have a loyal employee who will follow you to the ends of the earth. 

In the end Ultrapreneurship is about prioritising the most important part of our business – ourselves. Few businesses are an overnight success and to truly be successful you need stamina, a thick skin and multiple outlets for happiness – that’s what Ultrapreneurship really is.

About the author: Julian Hall a best selling author, mentor and the founder of Ultra Education – an organisation dedicated to teaching entrepreneurship in schools.

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Read the May 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.

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