Running a business

Episode 6: Want to succeed in business? Take time to breathe

When we think about athletes training for the Olympics, we might imagine constant, flat-out training as they try to beat the competition. In reality, getting to the podium takes a careful mixture of discipline and self-care. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from how athletes approach their challenges.

Freestyle skiing champion Alexandre Bilodeau worked hard to take home the gold medal from two Winter Olympic events, but he also understood the importance of taking care of his body and his mind. Now, he's helping entrepreneurs do the same.

"We train hard as athletes, but you can't train hard 100% of the time," he notes. "You need time to recover!"

Self-care is critical to Alex's success

Self-care is critical to success, both in sports and in the boardroom. Entrepreneurs might not test themselves on the slopes each day, but they often work long hours, risking mental stress and emotional strain. Regular self-care routines, like good nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress management can help entrepreneurs maintain their energy level, boost productivity, and promote creativity.

Without taking that time, entrepreneurs risk problems that can affect their business performance. The Canadian Mental Health Association found the biggest stress-related problem for entrepreneurs was fatigue, which affected 62% of business owners, followed by disturbed sleep at 56%, feelings of inadequacy at 51%, depression at 50%, and muscle pain at 48%.

"If you're overwhelmed all the time, you won't be the best leader you can be. You won't be yourself, and you won't perform very well," says Alex, who now advises entrepreneurs.

As high performers, entrepreneurs owe it to themselves and their businesses to nurture themselves both mentally and physically. They can benefit from many of the same self-care measures that athletes use, including mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga. Putting in time for regular health checkups is also crucial. Balance is essential to avoid burn-out.

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The right mentors provide valuable structure and discipline

Entrepreneurs can benefit from expert mentorship and consulting to help them understand their strengths and acknowledge their limits. "Having the right people around you is very important," Alex stresses. Just as his choice of Olympic coach had to be right for his training style, so business owners must concentrate on finding the right advisor.

Get the balance right, and you can find extra fuel to boost performance across a range of activities. While recovering from his gruelling physical training regimen, Alex spent time exercising his mind by studying for his CPA qualification. "I needed other challenges in my life than just the ones I found on the hill," he adds.

Understanding how you function in different high-pressure situations is a foundational skill for entrepreneurs, just as it is for athletes. Knowing when to push is important, but so is knowing when to ease off and take a break — or switch to a different challenge.


Small business owners face no shortage of high-pressure challenges that can benefit from a robust support network. QuickBooks Online provides a powerful one-stop solution that can streamline the financial administration of your business, so you have time to rest and recuperate. Find out more about how QuickBooks Online can help you today.

<< Episode 5: The importance of resilience and support systems for enterpreneurs<<

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