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Take Care of Yourself

Chapter 21 by Dennis Hammer

The final caveat of this book is the most important because it affects your life beyond your business.

The night before Dayna Winter launched her first Shopify store, she found herself awake at 3 AM writing product descriptions. She couldn’t remember the last time she had something to eat or drink. Her eyes and back were sore from sitting in front of her computer for too long. She had missed her exercise class and her sister’s messages.

Then Dayna came to a realization.

She was experiencing the plight of every entrepreneur: The toll entrepreneurship can take on your life and body.

“I realized how easy it is, in the thick of nurturing a business, to forget to nurture yourself,” she says.

In a perfect world, you’d have all the time you need to build the business of your dreams and still have plenty of time to rest, indulge in your hobbies, and spend time with your family.

But we don’t live in that world.

In this world, you have to spend 8 hours a day working a job to keep food on the table and make rent. You might have family obligations that keep you from your business until later in the evening. Like many entrepreneurs, the clock could strike 8 or 9 PM before you start work.

On the surface, entrepreneurship seems easy. It’s supposed to be liberating and peaceful, after all. It’s supposed to abolish the stress of slaving away for someone else, right? It’s supposed to satisfy that drive inside you, the one urging you to build something.

It’s supposed to be fun.


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The Truth: Entrepreneurship is Hard

The life of an entrepreneur is hard, lonely, and riddled with sacrifice. You sacrifice nights out with your friends so you can pour cash into your business. You sacrifice time with your family so you can work. You might turn down attractive opportunities or relationships because they don’t mesh with your entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Entrepreneurship is filled with failure and hard learning. You’ll struggle with your website and shopping cart and your marketing tools. You’ll struggle with Facebook ads, your email campaigns, and your cart abandonment app. You’ll struggle with getting your first sale and handling your first customer complaint.

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On top of all that, you’ll have no one to rely on but yourself. No one to make sure you clock in on time. It’s easy to say, “I can take today off. Who’s gonna stop me?” There’s no boss to look over your shoulder to make sure you stay off Facebook. When your store fails to hit your goals, you have only yourself to blame.

These stressors cause many entrepreneurs to lead unhealthy lifestyles. They have poor diets and exercise routines, mental health issues, and in some cases, substance abuse and alcohol problems.

So as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

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How to Take Care of Yourself

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, it’s important to commit yourself to self-care.

Self-care means taking deliberate steps to keep your body and mind healthy, especially when you’re traversing a stressful time in your life (like starting your own business). It means taking care to meet your physical, mental, and emotional needs.

Self-care doesn’t mean pampering yourself with expensive takeout or fancy clothes. It doesn’t mean justifying your latest tech purchase because you can “just write it off as a business expense.” Nor does it mean putting off work entirely.

Caring for yourself is about building a healthy lifestyle that supports a demanding entrepreneurial pursuit.

For the last piece of advice in this guide, we go over some important ways you can take care of yourself while you build, launch, manage, and grow your ecommerce store.

Breathe Deliberately

We’re obviously breathing all the time. But controlled, deep breathing evokes a relaxation response that soothes stress, banishes anxiety, and stabilizes your heart and blood pressure. Practice deep breathing by taking big breaths with your stomach. Push your belly way out. (You won’t look attractive, but you’ll feel relaxed.)

Get More Sleep

You might be tempted to power through the night to get more work done, but the quality of that work will be questionable. Sleep deprivation robs you of your creativity and ability to make good decisions. This means you’re likely to produce poor-quality work you’ll end up redoing anyway.

For the sake of your health, try to get 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every day, in whatever environment helps you sleep the best. It may take longer to get your store off the ground, but what’s the point in growing a business if it shaves years off your life?

Interact with People (Not Online)

Loneliness can creep up on you, even if you’re someone who doesn’t mind solitude. Long stretches of time without human contact can make you feel anxious and depressed. Over time, loneliness can manifest as physical health problems (including heart disease, cancer, and obesity).

If you work a full-time job during the day, you might be engaging in enough human interactions to keep you sane. But if all your work takes place online, put yourself in situations where you’ll meet other people. For instance, you could take your laptop to a coworking space or coffee shop. You might also consider joining entrepreneur meetups.

Don’t Saddle Yourself with Debt

It’s guaranteed you’re going to spend some money growing your business. The best part of the ecommerce model is, you don’t need a ton of cash to get started, but there will be expenses: Tools/software, ads, an item’s price you inevitably screw up and have to take a small loss for, and so on.

Debt doesn’t just slow your growth. It can cause stress and real physical health problems.

But be careful not to sink too much money into your business until you take some out, especially if you need that money to live.

Go slower if you have to, and optimize carefully.

Create a Positive Workspace

Dark, tight, and unappealing spaces can damage your mental state. You don’t need a big, swanky office with pricey furniture and a view of the ocean, but it’s helpful to work in a space you enjoy being in. Small improvements like a plant, an extra lamp, or a family photo can help make work relaxing and enjoyable.

Mind Your Mental Health

There’s evidence entrepreneurs have traits that make them vulnerable to depression, mood swings, and a sudden lack of motivation. Any of these conditions could derail your store and your lifestyle plans.

Eating healthy, sleeping often, and spending time with other people can help prevent these conditions, but if you feel your mental health is slipping, speak to a professional right away.

Get Some Exercise

You don’t need to spend 2 hours at the gym every day to get an adequate amount of exercise. Nor do you need to waste a lot of money on fancy gym memberships. But regular exercise boosts your brain’s ability to learn and remember new things. You only need about 20 minutes of exercise per day to stay healthy and reduce stress.

Choose Healthy Foods

Gas station hot dog? Breakfast sandwich at the coffee shop? Taco from the food truck? It’s easy to grab whatever’s within arm’s reach when you’re juggling work, family, and a business. But food choices have a direct impact on your brain’s performance, so it’s important to fuel your body with foods that support your work, not those that slow you down. Skip foods high in carbs and processed sugar. Opt instead for leafy greens, nuts, lean meat, and plenty of water.

Don’t Forget To Reward Yourself

It seems counterintuitive to reward yourself before you build a business. Isn’t the reward supposed to be a healthy ecommerce store that generates passive income?

Nevertheless, we need to celebrate our smallest victories, even if we do it alone. You don’t have to take extravagant trips, but give yourself a pat on the back every time you achieve a milestone (a minor goal that contributes to your main goal) by getting yourself a sweet gift, catching a movie, or cracking open a beer.

And don’t fall into the trap of working through every weekend and holiday.

Sure, those feel like “extra hours” when you can get ahead. But if you don’t stop and celebrate anything, your life will become one long work day. (It’ll drive you insane.)

Turn Failure Into Learning

We’ve spoken about failure over and over throughout this book. Failure is a part of every entrepreneur’s life. It is only an obstacle if you let it consume you. If you wallow in your failures and groan about all the unfairness in the universe, you’ll soak in all that stress and disappointment.

But if you adopt a winning mindset of learning from your failures, you’ll inoculate yourself against those negative feelings.

next: Chapter 22

It’s Time to Begin Your Journey

Each failure is a chance to learn. No, your journey won’t be perfect. You won’t get everything right the first time. ...