Too much stress, long hours, and a lack of healthy food, exercise and sleep means small business owners are in danger of gaining weight and losing their good health.
But there’s good news -- instead of just being an entrepreneur, you can be a fitpreneur too.
It’s a term coined by Queensland-based wellbeing coach Nikki Fogden-Moore who has spent the past 10 years coaching senior executives and, increasingly, entrepreneurs about how to be physically and mentally healthier in order the make their business thrive through her business, The Vitality Coach.
“We’re talking about the exodus of healthy and the incidence of obesity in small business because people are just not looking after themselves,” she told The Huffington Post Australia.
“The fitpreneur is a new breed of leader. You do see a lot of great CEOs and small business owners taking their health and wellbeing as an order of importance because it does affect your bottom line.
“If you get sick and it’s down to you -- you can’t afford to have days out of the business.”
Fogden-Moore says entrepreneurs can lose sight of the importance of their health when you combine the stress of running your own business, the time vacuum of making millions of decisions about budgets, marketing and staffing and pepper it with bad food choices and inactivity.
She says the path to being a fitpreneur is not just about going for a sporadic jog in the park -- it requires a lifestyle shift around fresh food, fresh air and fresh perspectives.
“When you are running your own business you have to have a new set of rules -- people don’t rethink their health and wellbeing program anymore they just talk about diets and fads and 12-week programs,” she said.
“But really, if you eat food you enjoy that’s healthy, if you have regular amounts of fresh air and active living and you make it part of your day it’s not a chore, it’s just part of your life.”
Fogden-Moore says a fitpreneur will make the time to stock their fridge with fresh food and not indulge in calorie-laden yet convenient fast foods when working long hours.
“Make good fuel choices with healthy snacks and salads and smoothies because as an entrepreneur because you are fuelling your brain,” she said.
Getting fresh air doesn’t just mean making regular time in your routine for exercise -- although that is certainly what Fogden-Moore recommends -- it’s also about detaching from your devices and your work.
“Developing a nano-break mentality is really important,” she said.
“Anyone running a small business knows you run on adrenaline a lot, but there is a tipping point where a lot of people give up or they have burnout because they don’t take time to schedule in good sleep or develop the ability to walk away and assess stressful situations.
“They don’t look after themselves by taking mini-breaks because they feel they have to be glued to their phone. Putting in place strategies to build yourself time to be a fitpreneur as a small business owner is OK, because if you do smaller breaks regularly, you are never having big chunks of time out and you can keep on top of things consistently.”
Having a fresh perspective on your working day is all about ditching the old excuses, and starting a new routine.
“This can be stepping back from a stressful situation, it can be making sure your mindset is right. Like all the old stories you tell yourself -- I don’t have an hour to work out, I am too busy, I’ve got to take this call or go to a finance meeting or do my budgets.
“There is a lot of fear in small business that if you are not around in front of your email you can lose business. But you have to run the business, not let the business run you.”
Fogden-Moore says scheduling in time for your family, your partner, having coffee with a friend and “me-time” each week is just as important.
“If you plan your week and integrate all these elements as part of your day you are not negotiating with yourself all the time,” she said. “It’s just part of your lifestyle and it becomes habit.”
Sharing the fitpreneur ethos with your team
And if all this is good enough for the entrepreneur, it’s good enough for their staff, too.
Fogden-Moore recommends sharing your newfound healthy lifestyle with your staff and encouraging them to be the healthiest they can be, whether it’s supplying fresh fruit for snacks, encouraging people to cycle to work or making mini-breaks compulsory -- after all, it’s in your best interests.
“You want your team to be healthy, look after themselves and not take sick days,” she said.
“That next level of small business thinking is not just focusing about me me me, but thinking about what we can do as a team. You have to lead by example so don’t tell your team to be healthy while you’re eating a packet of Tim-Tams.”
Meet a fitpreneur -- Alec Lynch, CEO of DesignCrowd
Alec Lynch knows how important his health is to his business, and he works hard to focus on wellness.
"Staying fit and healthy physically helps me perform at my best,” he said. “In particular, if I'm exercising regularly I find that I'm sharper mentally. I have more energy, I'm more productive, I have greater focus, I'm more positive and I'm more resilient."
Lynch says eating fresh food is great for him, but he makes sure it’s not going to take hours out of his day.
“I always start the day with a protein shake for breakfast -- this sets me up to make healthy choices throughout the day.
“When it comes to dinner I'm not so strict. I like to eat what I enjoy -- and there's no problem with having a 'treatie'. Proper exercise, plus an unstoppable metabolism, mean that I can eat what I like and it's a nice reward after a hard day's work."
Lynch exercises five times a week with a mixture of jogging, crossfit, gym and touch football either before or after work. But, to offset times when it becomes harder to do this, he exercises at least twice on the weekend.
And he advises other small business owners to do the same.
"If Mark Zuckerberg can find time to work out three times a week -- then so can you,” he said. “If you don't have time, make time. Richard Branson says working out gives him four hours of extra productivity every day."