Running your own small business can be a stressful and time-consuming occupation. Entrepreneurs need to wear 10 different hats and spend long hours to get their business off the ground and keep it running at full steam.
But to do that, they need to make sure they don’t run out of steam. They need energy, stamina and good health -- sick days are not an option when you run a small business.
Here, 12 Aussie entrepreneurs reveal their secrets to wellness and how they find the time and the discipline to keep their bodies healthy and their minds fully charged.
Craig Davis -- Co Founder and CMO, Sendle
Craig Davis from Sendle, an eco-friendly parcel startup, Craig Davis is a shining example of a fitpreneur -- he’s got a great fitness and nutrition plan but he also has some serious sporting accomplishments -- like being the fastest Australian to run a marathon at the North Pole.
“Being healthy is everything,” he said. “I’ve been through periods of my life when I’ve allowed myself to think that I’m too busy to look after myself, I’ve been hooked on chemicals, and have skipped exercise and sleep for long periods -- but those choices came at too high a price.
“An early stage business like Sendle requires lots of focus, energy and attention. I start most days around 5.30am with meditation and exercise just to calm down. My wife is a nutritionist so we eat well as a family. Lots of salads, vegetables, fruit and fish, and gluten-free foods like quinoa, chia seeds and teff. Of course there are days when I crave a big fat hamburger and fries, or a sticky date pudding, and I’ll have one as a treat."
Tips for small business owners: “First, make your wellbeing a priority. Second, make a start. Anything is better than doing nothing."
Jayde Balderston -- Managing Director, The Grey Consulting
For Jayde Balderston, staying healthy is an absolute necessity. She runs her own business, teaches a Diploma of Business at The Fashion Institute and has had to deal with severe health issues including endometriosis and cervical cancer.
“It's about being as fit and healthy as I can for my clients, business and most importantly -- me,” she said.
“I found Pilates via a recommendation to assist with my health issues -- and it has changed my life.
“Learning to prepare my own food has been the catalyst in changing my diet. I was always too busy, but have come to love the joy of cooking.”
Tips for small business owners: "Be kind to yourself -- personal pressure possibly won’t change your ways, but understanding and self-compassion will. You do have time if you make it, and it doesn’t have to cost a cent!"
Levi Aron -- Country Manager, Deliveroo
It makes sense that someone who works for a delivery business using cyclists would have a fitness focus, and Levi Aron leads his team by example.
“For a business that has 5000 riders globally as the customer facing side of our business, staying fit is always front of mind," he said. "We encourage our employees to get out and do rider shifts at least once every two weeks.
“We have weekly team yoga and fitness sessions that staff across our offices attend -- best way to start off the day!"
Tips for small business owners: “Show me your diary and I'll show you your priorities! Make sure that fitnesses sessions are locked in at set times, for super busy people this also applies to meal times. Show your staff that there is more to life than leaning over a keyboard."
Steve Shelley -- Co-founder, Deputy
Being healthy means you have more energy and passion for your business, says Steve Shelley.
“Staying healthy is vital to me; if I'm feeling great, rested and full of energy, I find I'm more enthusiastic and passionate towards everything in my life, including my business,” he said.
“I listen to my body and do what I feel I need to do at that moment, whether that be to lay under a tree, or get out and be active, lift some weights, go kiteboarding, go for a bike ride or take a run. If I don’t bring food to work, I have several healthy food options available nearby so I have a good excuse to get out and go for a walk."
Tips for small business owners: “Every person has the choice, right at this very moment, to start building better habits. It’s good to move more and eat better and the benefits are immediate."
Pana Barbounis -- Founder, Pana Chocolate
He may own a chocolate company, but Pana Barbounis strictly adheres to a vegan lifestyle with regularly scheduled exercise.
“Without our health we are not valuable,” he said. “Food is my medicine and I will not compromise. There’s lots of planning and thought -- I do not eat on the run.
“Fit in your workouts -- no excuses. Shuffle things around -- the workload will always be there. Activity can vary from gym work, cycling to work, running, yoga and long walks. It keeps me feeling amazing -- therefore I’m carrying that energy through to the workplace so my energy can inspire the team.
“The biggest challenge is retaining a routine with travel. When overseas, I choose accommodation with a yoga studio nearby."
Tips for small business owners: “Try it and watch the amazing results, it will have such a positive outcome for you personally and your team. Write a plan with gradual impact increase. Do not opt for food because it’s a convenience, make time to pre-plan wholesome food.”
Mitchell Taylor -- Co-founder, Koala Mattress
Health and performance as a business owner go hand in hand for Mitchell Taylor, who encourages his staff to be healthy too.
"Making healthy choices reduces stress and helps me stay energised and happy, which is essential for leading a team and facing important decisions with clarity,” he said.
“Wellness is at the very core of our team. When we hire, we look for candidates who put a high level of care into their own wellbeing. Not only because staying active and eating well is essential for refreshing the mind and maintaining energy levels through the day, but because it demonstrates they are invested in personal goals.
“Dany (co-founder of Koala Mattress) and I met out on the rugby field so, exercise has always played a crucial part in the business. I put exercise and meditation first in my schedule -- I have a 5am start -- so that there’s no reason to deprioritise. Usually, I run, go to the gym or have a surf. Running is great because you can listen to audio books and learn while you exercise!"
Tips for small business owners: "Don't make excuses. Get your exercise in early away from the distractions of the work day. It’s essential to maintain physical and mental health. Set a routine and stick to it. Introduce healthy snacks into your day and build up to healthy meals. And get 30 minutes away from your desk a day."
Jennifer McCloy -- Fashion Designer, Jennifer Kate
Jennifer McCloy knows how important exercise and sleep is for herself and her business.
“The busy day-to-day operations of running your own business can take a real toll on your body and your mind -- and you can’t afford to be tired, run-down or over-emotional," she said.
“I do have a routine, and I really make sure I stick to it. It gives me a sense of achievement. I really find that exercising in the morning starts my day off with a feeling of vitality, which can sometimes be hard to find when you are running your own business.”
Tips for small business owners: “Sleep is just as crucial, if not more crucial than a healthy diet and exercise, in order to keep the mind clear and allow you to celebrate the small wins. I also turn my emails off for at least an hour before I go to bed.”
Ben Handler -- CEO and Co-founder and Simon Cohen -- MD and Co-founder, Cohen Handler
Ben: “Staying healthy is as important as breathing for me and I like to ensure that all my employees maintain a healthy work-life balance too. We provide employees across all our offices with yoga and meditation to help them de-stress and give them an opportunity to bond. I also practice yoga regularly.”
Simon: “I work out every day to clear my mind as well as stay energised and refreshed. My daily routine consists of a 5.30am start for a gym session. I eat as healthy as possible. I make sure I have three main meals a day and consume healthy snacks in between to keep energised and alert.”
Tips for small business owners:
Ben: “Educate yourself on the benefits to understand the facts behind why it’s important to exercise regularly and eat well. Stick to a plan and create a routine. Start small!”
Simon: “Try and make exercise a part of your daily routine. If you know you have to get up at the same time every day to exercise, it will become a habit and will soon feel like the norm. Have a good filling breakfast, salad or sandwich for lunch and meat/fish and vegetables for dinner.”
Jason Wyatt -- Co-founder, Marketplacer
Being healthy is a no-brainer for business and life, says Jason Wyatt.
“Being a better me for my family, business and friends is what motivates me,” he said. “Everyone has to work at it. For me it is not about being rake skinny or sculpting a chiseled body or how I look in Instagram photos. It is about being healthy in mind and body so I can be a better me. I try to have a routine as best I can but the reality is I have a busy life. I no longer feel guilty about investing in my health. If I miss a session I simply try and make it up!”
Tips for small business owners: “Include incremental exercise into your life. I ride to work, I walk and talk on the phone. I have a stand-up desk I can use. I try to stretch during the day and I walk up the stairs instead of taking elevators.”
Richard Kimber -- Managing Director and CEO, OFX
Richard Kimber says eating well and keeping active is a major stress-reliever.
“Maintaining a high standard of physical and mental health is extremely important to me,” he said. “I believe it gives you an advantage in concentration and focus and is by far the best reliever of stress that exists.
“We recently moved our corporate office in Sydney and a prerequisite for the space was top-notch changing and shower facilities, so the team would be able to bike, run and walk into work and partake in physical activities during their lunch hour.
“I go to the gym for one hour at least three days a week and schedule it into my diary. I bring my meals in with me every day and try to steer clear of anything processed. I don’t eat carbs after breakfast and have increased the amount of fish I eat.”
Tips for small business owners: “Be prepared and plan ahead by preparing your meals and snacks to take with you. Be accountable -- I always meet a friend at the gym. Having another person's schedule to meet makes it harder to pull out last minute and training with someone helps you push harder.”