No one ever said building a business is easy (and if they did, they were trying to sell you something). That’s why many entrepreneurs end up sacrificing a lot to get there, often putting their business before everything else. Ironic considering many entrepreneurs start a business in order to gain more freedom and flexibility.
Paying yourself first is a recurring theme for small business owners. You hear it said over and over again: pay yourself first, pay yourself FIRST, PAY YOURSELF FIRST. Why? Because often times, entrepreneurs are paying themselves last, either financially or in other ways.
5 Ways You Need to Pay Yourself FIRST
#1: Actually Pay Yourself First – Pay yourself like any other key employee. It’s easy to get stuck in that start-up mentality of sacrificing your own paycheck for the good of the business, giving up the short-term gains for the long-term potential. Stop right there.
Build into your business a reasonable salary for yourself. If you can’t do that, it’s time to cut expenses, increase your prices or reexamine your profit model. A business that can’t pay its CEO is not sustainable business. Without the financial safety net of a pension plan or an employer matching program, it is vital that your business enables you to save for the future.
#2: Put Your Health First Everyday – Take advantage of your entrepreneurial lifestyle and take time off during the day to take care of your health. Get a health first routine going that includes a healthy breakfast, regular breaks and a reasonable office schedule.
Building a business can be stressful (sometimes to the extreme). Don’t add to that stress by stressing out your body by skipping meals, eating poorly, working long hours, or neglecting your exercise routine. This is especially the case if you work from home where work life tends to creep into home life.
#3: Include a Regular Fitness Focus – Think of your body as your business machine, one that needs regular exercise to perform at its best. Start your day with a quick run, take an afternoon break to workout or sign up for a weekly yoga class at your local community center.
Whatever you do, don’t cheat. Don’t even give yourself reason to cheat, even if that means going to bed in your workout clothes so you don’t skip out on your morning bootcamp. Because really, aren’t yoga pants glorified pajamas anyway?
#4: Build Downtime into Your Routine – Don’t let work take over your personal time. Build downtime into your daily, weekly and monthly routine. That means taking time out during the day for your workout, taking weekends off, and scheduling regular vacations.
Separating work and personal time is especially challenging for work-at-home entrepreneurs. It’s tempting to do “just one more thing” or pop back into the home office to quickly check-in. Just as you build in those boundaries to protect your office hours from distractions, protect your personal time as well.
#5: Pay Yourself with Lifestyle – Design your business to support your lifestyle goals, including financial goals, family priorities, personal development, and freedom requirements, instead of adjusting your lifestyle to fit your business.
Sometimes that means rethinking your business focus or finding creative ways to simplify your business model in order to achieve your lifestyle objectives, but isn’t that why we do what we do anyway?