Stop running yourself into the ground while you run your business

Running yourself into the ground

There are three ways you can spot an entrepreneur:

The thrice-worn yoga pants.

The unwashed hair.

And the globs of – what is that, dried egg yolk? – spotted down her front from when she devoured her breakfast in front of her laptop.

When you’re in the business of running your own business, trivial things like doing your hair or shaving your legs seem… well, trivial. They’re not directly related to bringing in money, so you don’t do them until it reaches crisis point. (You know, like when your ponytail leaves an actual grease slick on your pillow, or when you haven’t shaved your legs for so long that cornrows become a legitimate grooming option.)

Lest you think I’m judging anyone here, fear not.

I work from home, all on my lonesome. And my Significant Other travels for work at least 60% of the time.

Which means that 60% of the time, there is literally no one around to notice that I haven’t gotten out of my workout gear for three days in a row. Or that stray Freddo crumbs have fallen between my boobs. Or that I’ve been chained to my laptop for 17 hours straight.

That is how I used to ‘entrepreneur’. All the time.

In many ways, I had no choice.

I was so fricking busy getting my client work done each day that I would find myself at 11 p.m. wondering whether I should have a shower and a microwave dinner before collapsing into bed, OR ditch the shower and take that time to actually cook some proper veggies for once. (My zombie-like energy levels meant that this was an either-or decision.)

The only way I could get myself started in the morning was with a giant tankard of coffee, and the only way I could wind down at the end of the day was with a giant glass bottle vat of wine.

When my boyfriend was home to witness this mess, he would have to usher his tear-stained, depleted, shell of a partner to the couch, where he’d place a big bowl of dinner in my hands, a wine by my side, and put on the most mind-numbing TV show we could possibly find.

In short, it wasn’t pretty. Or fun. But thankfully, those days are behind me… for the most part.

Because the truth is, we all have a choice.

We all have a choice over what food we stuff into our faces, how many clients we take on, what boundaries we set in our businesses, how we enforce them, and whether we drink a glass bottle vat of wine every night.

Of course, it took me a near-death experience to realise this.


Which is kind of embarrassing.

I had to fall from a height onto an exposed wooden beam, smash open my head, tear my forehead apart, see my own skull, and think that I was about to die to realize that doing business is not meant to kill you.

Neither literally or figuratively.

But getting knocked over the head with the truth (which is a pun that has only juuuust graduated from the category of ‘too soon’ to ‘painfully funny’) was the catalyst I needed to stop running myself into the ground while building up my business.

That was just under a year ago.

And these days, I’m happy to say, I ‘entrepreneur’ very differently.

There are a bunch of business-y things that I’ve changed – like charging properly, setting realistic deadlines, and saying (a grateful, gracious) no to overloading myself with work.

But this article is about the LIFE-Y things that I now do differently that have helped me ‘entrepreneur’ differently.

… Specifically, the appearance-y things. (I didn’t paint you a mental picture of my thrice-worn yoga pants for nothing!)

Because although I will argue to the hilt that what’s written in our pages is a million times more important than what’s painted on our covers, that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to mistreat the meat-suit we’ve each been gifted to walk around in.

And for many of us, though we might chug down a green smoothie or drag our butts through a workout, we’re not actually nice to ourselves. Beyond the basic perfunctories, we don’t actually show ourselves that, you know, we matter.

But treating yourself nicely is one of the smartest things you can do for your business.

Even when it’s just trivial stuff. Like what you wear, and how often you wash your hair – and your yoga pants.

They say you should dress for the kind of job you want.

I say dress for the kind of business you want.

If you’re anything like me, you want a business that makes you feel alive and vital… not wrung out and wrinkly like a used-up tea bag.

You want a business that gives you a thrill, like when you used to get hit on by the cute guy at the bar. (You know, back before you entered a monogamous relationship with your business and grew cornrows on your legs.) NOT a business that fills you with dread every Monday morning. Scratch that. Every morning.

There are a million things you can do to create the kind of business that feels the way you want it to feel.

But from my experience, none of those things are as powerful as starting with YOU and how YOU feel.

And one of the swiftest ways to get yourself feeling the way you want is to transform how you feel on the outside, so that your insides get the hint and can follow (meat)suit.

Which means, next time you’re getting ready to start your day:

Put on some lipstick.

Put on your going-out pants. (Hell, if you’re anything like three-years-ago Jess, just put on any pants.)

Maybe even blow-dry your goddamn hair.

Basically, just do whatever it takes to make you feel like you matter.

Because when you take the time to give a damn about yourself, you’re less likely to treat yourself like crap.

Because when you stop running yourself into the ground, you’ve got so much more energy to run your business.

Because just like it says on that tube of lipstick,

Lady, you’re worth it.