How to Survive Your Business Launch, AKA: Self-care For Entrepreneurs
Launching a new business or product can be a serious drag on your personal well-being.
It feels like there is no time to get anything done despite how long you're working, and when you do find a glimmering sliver of free time, you're too fucking exhausted to spend the time doing anything you really enjoy. But it doesn't have to be that way. I just launched a shiny brand-new, full-length ebook, and I didn't:
- stay up until 2am (in fact, I'm such a raging grandmother than I'm in bed by nine everyday, and reading for a bit before bed)
- stop eating anything but cardboard microwave pizza
- forget to shower
- forget to feed my cat
- forget that I have a cat
- forget that I have a husband (okay, maybe some days. Sorry, love)
- completely snap and sob for an entire afternoon
In fact, life went on mostly as usual. I cleaned the house a little less (... maybe a lot less), I still read a few books, went for a few walks, watched uncountable hours of Youtube, tackled an insane knitting project, and made and ate real food. There are of course a few things that I would like to make sure I do better next time, but over all, I think it's proof that you can try new things, take on big projects, and succeed without running yourself into the dirt.
The hustle is real. But taking care of yourself is also real. The pressure to achieve what some of these big bloggers and entrepreneurs are doing is intense. I just launched a product, but did I make 400k?
The truth is, most of us won't, no matter how accessible it's made to seem— and it's not worth the mental wringer we sometimes put ourselves through in an attempt to achieve this success and mimic these lives when you're just starting out. You don't need $400,000 or even $100,000 to be happy, successful, and totally fulfilled.
You are the most important part of this equation, babe. You can't do it without you. You can't have success (whatever that may look like for you, success is individual, as is failure), you can't have thriving businesses, you can't have epic books or beautiful courses if you're not present. And most importantly? You can't be around to enjoy the fruits of your labour if you need a month to recover from the process. That's not what is it about. We struck out on our own to ditch that shit, remember?
It can be really heavy on the shoulders wearing fourteen hats as a solo entrepreneur. But never forget that you can take off some of those hats, if only temporarily. You can hire someone else to wear a hat, or you can simply let go of some of the less used and less useful hats. You don't have to do everything, you only have to do what works.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHERE YOU ARE, AND WHERE YOU'VE BEEN
Sometimes when you are smack in the middle of a business or product launch— whatever that all consuming, totally exciting adventure is for you— it can be easy to forget to look back. In these times we are so intensely focused on looking forward, on seeing what the results of our actions will be. We're so consumed with whether or not we will succeed or fail that we end up on a very short time-scale roller-coaster of emotion. Things are good, things are bad— but we're seeing these things like the three-day weather focus, rather than looking at the climate.
Gain some perspective by focusing on the climate, and take a moment to look at what has changed in the long term. Where were you this time last year? The year before that? Seriously, get out that quill and parchment and jot down some of the things you've tried this year, some of the books you've read, some of the things you've learned how to do— I guarantee you'll impress yourself. How would the You of one year ago felt about where you are now? It's incredibly easy to acclimatize to new achievements, feeling increasingly like they are your new base level— it's like hedonic adaptation, but for business. When you once would have been beyond thrilled to have four hundred views in a day, you're now looking at 1,200 going eh, not bad.
This isn't to say that it's a bad idea to strive for bigger and better things— far from it. But it's important to keep your goals in sight and to remember each day what is it you want to accomplish, and not what other people are telling you that you need to accomplish. Remember that as long as you are taking steps forward to your ultimate goals and dreams— NO MATTER HOW SMALL— that is all that matters. Everyone has different strides.
DITCH THE TOXIC COMPARISON
Let's be honest here— there's never a good time for toxic comparison. However the worst time you can start to become buddies with the Big Evil is during your launch. And with good reason. The launch of a new product or service is incredibly sensationalized— especially if you're hanging out on social media with other bloggers and entrepreneurs. It's the be all and end all of business, apparently. Don't get me wrong, the launch is certainly important, but when you become totally fixate on the exact method to success that other entrepreneurs have used, you're headed down a gloomy path.
It doesn't matter what others have done, or how much money they're making. Different circumstances bring each person to different places. There is no one method you will be able to follow for immediate success, only techniques. Be incredibly wary of the person who tries to tell you that this is the case.
You don't know what went into someone else's launch process— even if they tell you. You don't know about all the factors, because they might not either. Two people could follow the exact same steps with hot and cold results. There are so many small factors at play here from writing style to disposable finance.
Step back for a moment and take a look your definition of success— at what you really want, and what you really need. There is a good chance if you haven't done this before, you might be surprised at the results. You might find that you have been nodding along with someone else's definition of success without taking a moment to see if you really need the same thing they've got. You might need more, you might need less. It doesn't matter what they do or do not have.
My recommendation? Stop looking at income reports. Kick that to the curb. You don't need to know what anyone else is making, and you don't need to know how many thousands they pulled in during their last launch. It may seem like this is a healthy practise because it's contained within the envelope labelled 'business', but let me tell you it's just the same as flicking through fashion magazines, full of the envy of bodies and dresses you don't have.
Someone else's income is not the stick by which you measure your success.
Write that shit down.
GREET YOUR LIMITS
We all have them, and I'm telling you right now, muses, there is no shame in acknowledging them. Your life will be a lot more sparkly if you do, I promise you that. Just because someone else does, or claims to:
- run 5k a day
- sleep for only four hours
- subsist entirely off of green juices
- work for fourteen hours straight
- participate in five different mastermind groups
- rock Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Periscope without a VA
does not mean that you need to do any or all of the above. The thing is, these folks never showcase what they're giving up. You see the results, but you rarely see what it cost them to get there. The entire process of being an business owner is give and take. You can get more efficient, you can hire help, you can learn new techniques, but you cannot create more time, add infinitely to a list of tasks, or shake that pesky fact that we, as humans (and most of us are, as far as I know) need sleep. Preferably like seven hours of it every day.
Your limits might be different than those of others, but it's important to nod to them, and to say hello when they do appear. They're telling you something important.
TAKE BREAKS— WHOLE DAYS, EVEN
If you've been around here for any length of time you'll know that I'm a pretty big fan of taking breaks, and making good use of the incredibly-productive short workday.
Now, I'll be the first to say that I sometimes fuck this up, too. Sometimes I work for too long, and I can feel myself regretting it even as it's happening. I know it's really hard to make the decision to let go when it feels like the mountain of work is growing exponentially.
I can also admit that when I do push myself too far and neglect to take breaks and nurture my brain, my work suffers. Why? Science. Countless studies for years and years have been showing that people simply suck at focusing intensely on something for really long periods of time; I remember when we found this out in high school and attempted to overthrow the hour-and-a-half class times in favour of shorter ones.
Why does this matter? Short bursts of intense productivity is the way to get the most, highest-quality work done— and you'll be happier while you're doing it. Test it just for one or two days and see. Now, when I say work, I really do mean it. For whatever period of time you dedicate to work (say 50 minute work periods broken up by 20 minute breaks), ditch social media, get the hell off Facebook, stop wandering around your house looking for things to clean and declutter. Put your pen on the paper, your fingers on the keys, your hand on the paint brush— whatever your tool of choice— and produce something.
It's difficult to work up this kind of discipline, there's no doubt about that. But we need not be afraid of discipline, no matter how scary the word sounds, and how strongly it may conjure up images of Professor McGonagall at her worst.
Discipline is choosing between what you want now, and what you want most.
It is just as important if not more so to extend this mentality to your weeks— and take a damn day off, girl. Put the laptop in a closet. Have an herbal bath with a million candles. Go for a walk. Make soup. Draw some cards for yourself. Journal. Go dancing. Marathon a TV show you love (hands up for Vikings, anyone?).
Ahh, and so we come to it. The place I failed. Of course I've failed at all of them from one time to another, but this is the one at which I fail consistently. I somehow manage to tell myself that my physical health is not quite as important as my mental health— and I've done this consistently pretty much all my life. I'm bookish. I'm paperish. I'm laptopish.
Unfortunately, it's not the truth. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. If you spent hours a day sitting like a ton of creative entrepreneurs do, letting your body atrophy, you're not going to be able to do anything when you finally have the time— at least, you probably won't enjoy it.
You know that feeling you get when you've had a bad cold or flu and you've been in bed for a while, unable to do much, and then finally one afternoon you decide that it's not doing you any good and you need to get outside despite feeling like your head is jammed full of expanding foam?
It's the very same. We get to a point where sitting around all the time makes you feel tired and crappy, which in turn makes you not want to move, which makes you feel more tired and crappy. It's a hard cycle to break (I've been thinking about writing a longer post on this at some point). But start small. There is no sense beating yourself up for not being in great physical shape when your job demands that you sit around all the time. It's hard to tell yourself that you need to do 30 minutes of this physical activity stuff you don't really want to do when you have a mountain of work you need to do.
The thing is, you might be able to get away with this for a while, but as I'm finding out right now... not forever. Go for a walk or do some yoga everyday, preferably in the morning. You deserve it.
I hope this advice has been helpful for you all. Be kind to yourself my loves, it can be uphill and windy out there.
Find your own metric for success. Define your own goals. Dream your own dreams.