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Why You Should Build Your Business with Self-Care in Mind

Stacy Carroll

September 23, 2019

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Women in the Beard House kitchen photo Clay Williams
Photo: Clay Williams

James Beard Foundation director of Impact programs Stacy Carroll explains why prioritizing self-care is an important part of building a strong business, and how we're integrating that philosophy into our Owning It program to help support hundreds of women entrepreneurs across the country.

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Over the last year, we’ve traveled to Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Phoenix with our Owning It program in support of emerging entrepreneurs, and we’ve heard from hundreds of women about what they need to dream big and thrive as business leaders.

Unsurprisingly, access to capital and limited hard business skills rank at the top of the list, with difficulty working with a business partner or mental exhaustion due to lack of work/life balance tied for a close third.

There is a lot of talk in the industry right now about self-care. Self-care is deeper than leaning on massages or yoga classes. It’s about knowing yourself and the best practices you need to employ to balance your strengths and management style with those of complementary partners so you can avoid the emotional fatigue pitfalls many entrepreneurs face in building communities and brands.

That’s why we’ve brought on professional behavior analyst and business coach Rachel Sheerin to help us incorporate business psychology into the overall Owning It program. We are now able to personalize each attendee’s experience with our new Visioning + Heart Centric Goal Setting module. This work will help ensure that participants understand the importance of balancing their behavior patterns and business needs before choosing partners, staff, pitching their business to customers, or signing contracts with investors.

We’re not alone in the idea that a strong sense of self and understanding of human behavior play important roles in success. Mental health advocacy movement Fair Kitchens, and one of their first partners, James Beard Award–winning chef Kelly Fields of Willa Jean, both had a psychologist on retainer when laying out the ethos of their company culture and programming, and continue to make support available for both themselves and their staff.

By investing in, and prioritizing, mental health early in the creation of your business and partnerships, you can avoid potential stumbling blocks in the future. Leadership consultant Carl Johnson, Ph.D. says partnerships are most likely to fail because “they don’t adequately define their vision and reason for existence beyond simply being a vehicle to make money. As a consequence, people often join partnerships for financial reasons but leave because of values, career, or life goal misalignment.” Johnson advises that you “be clear about your values…value misalignment can create conflicts in approach to business development, delivery of services, and how you treat one another.”

The message is clear: establishing a strong vision, values, and keeping our mental health at the center of starting a business is a first good step for avoiding mental exhaustion later down the line.

Find us on Facebook to connect with a community of leaders and mentors in the hospitality industry.

Learn more about Owning It.

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Stacy Carroll is the director of Impact and Women's Leadership programs for the James Beard Foundation. Find them on Instagram.