Starting your own business is hard enough, but being a female founder brings its own unique set of challenges. In addition to the regular stressors of running a business, you have to deal with gender-specific issues like sexism and imposter syndrome.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and burnt out. But it’s important to protect your energy, so you can continue to build your business and reach your goals.
As a female founder, you are likely to face many regular stressors in running your business. First and foremost among these is the need to protect your energy. When you're pulled in a million different directions, it's easy to let your energy reserves run low. This can leave you feeling depleted, anxious, and even burnt out.
To combat this, it's important to take some time each day - even if it's just 10-15 minutes - to center yourself and recharge your batteries.
When it comes to protecting energy, female founders haven't traditionally had it easy. For one, they deal with the unconscious bias that exists in the startup world. This can manifest itself in lack of access to funding, networks, and mentors.
Additionally, female founders often have to work harder than their male counterparts to prove themselves (and their businesses). This leads to burnout, if not managed properly.
Lastly, because women are still grossly underrepresented in the support systems extended to startups, they can feel isolated and alone at times.
There are a lot of demands placed on female founders, and it can be easy to let stress gets the best of you. However, it's important to protect your energy levels so that you are successful. Here are 5 ways to do that:
1. Make sleep a priority: Most female entrepreneurs report that they do not get enough sleep, which can lead to fatigue and grumpiness. Additionally, studies have shown that depression and anxiety may be related to an overactive default mode network (DMN). DMN is the part of the brain that regulates self-referential thoughts and daydreaming. Stress to the DMN can can lead to self-criticism and catastrophizing.
Ever spent an entire day at the beach, while still feeling exhaustion? That might be a result of your DMN buzzing in the background as you were engaging in your ostensibly relaxing hobby. Even though your environment changed, your energy progressively depleted.
Establish a ritual to first disable your DMN the next time you unwind for the night. Meditation and exercise both move the brain away from the DMN "worry tract" and towards other cognitive networks, making them two of the most efficient strategies to achieve this. Download the TablexTribe App for free Founder Meditations!
You should also try to always get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night so that you can be well-rested and ready to take on the next day.
2. Define time limits: Even though they take up a lot of time, meetings are a necessary element of operating a business. As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get sucked into a sea of nonstop meetings, only to find yourself too exhausted to finish the remainder of your to-do list.
Establish time boundaries for each meeting and communicate them as needed to protect your time and attention. It makes sense to state the time limit for staff meetings at the beginning of the discussion, such as "I'd like to take the next hour to discuss 'x'."
In less structured meets or networking events, politely let the other person know that you would appreciate their time for "x" minutes.
3. Stick to a healthy diet: Eating nutritious meals helps your body to function properly and provides the energy you need to power through your workday. Be sure to fuel up with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains so that you’re getting the nutrients you need.
4. Practice self-care: Take time each day to do something that makes you feel good. Whether it’s meditating, journaling, or hanging out with friends, make sure you look after yourself so that you can enjoy your life and be happy.
5. Exercise often: Regular exercise is a great way to de-stress and maintain good health. You don’t need to run marathons or join a gym – all you have to do is find a physical activity that you enjoy and get moving!
Want to learn more about Black women founders in the Blaze Group community? Download our free inaugural report: The State of Black Women-Owned Businesses | 2022.