What does investment mean to you? I am sure that equities and bonds come to mind; investments made in the hope of securing a decent return on your money.
When I was growing up I was taught that for any relationship to flourish, investment in the form of time and effort has to be made. In many cases sacrifice can also be included in that formula. Business is not so different. The entrepreneurship aspect of your life is also a relationship that requires different forms of investment.
The investments I am going to encourage you to make will not be yielding returns in the financial sense. Instead they will reap enormous rewards for both the professional and personal aspects of your life:
I have to admit that when I first started my entrepreneurial journey I did not sleep much at all. In fact, I used to wish a magic pill existed where I could stop sleeping altogether and use that extra time to work. Nevertheless, surviving on three to four hours of sleep a night did not do my health or business any favours. I felt fatigued and struggled to concentrate. According to Josna Adusumilli, a Harvard neurologist and sleep medicine physician, if you only sleep six hours a night for 12 days in a row, your cognitive and physical performance is the same as someone who has been awake for 24 hours.
How is that any good to your business or, more importantly, your health? No good at all. Investing eight hours every night to getting some decent shut-eye is something you should not give a second thought to.
A healthy body leads to great ideas, increases productivity and reduces your sick days. This is not to say you should spend your whole afternoon hitting the weights bar in the gym, but dedicating as little as 20 minutes a day to cardio exercise can do wonders. Walking, cycling or any activity of your choice that gets your heart pumping, will lead to instant results in terms of productivity.
One of my favourite investments, and one I swear by as an entrepreneur, is investing in a great mentor. Not only will he or she serve as your sounding board, but they will save you both time and money by providing you with effective advice. My mentor helped me to set up my business, assisted in drafting my business plan and also put in a few good words with potential clients. By having the right mentor, I was able to skip a few start-up steps.
Personally I am not overly interested in current affairs, but dedicating a few minutes every day to reading business journals and useful articles in my field have expanded my knowledge further. It has also inspired numerous business ideas and connected me with influencers in my field.
Do something fun
Yes, that is an investment too. Life should not only revolve around business. While it may seem like that when you are managing your business, by taking some time off you will be doing yourself a huge favour. Weekends should be dedicated to doing things you like with people you love. That will not only elevate your mood, but also enable you to recharge enough to start the new week in full swing.
Also make it a habit to schedule in a regular holiday. You do not have to travel out of the UAE every time. Simply taking some time away from the business for a while is effective enough. It lets you look at the bigger picture – something that is hard to do when you are deeply immersed in it – and evaluate your achievements so far.
Monetary investment is crucial in business. Perhaps it was the first thing you thought about when you started up your venture. However, lifestyle investments are equally important, not only for your business but for your life.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.
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