The Australian - The Deal - - Kaplan -

IT IS OF­TEN SAID that an en­tre­pre­neur or small busi­ness owner’s worst fear is not so much a lack of cash flow (which is like breath­ing; you sim­ply make sure it con­tin­ues), but that an op­por­tu­nity pre­sented will be missed. Some­times, how­ever, it is health and well­be­ing, rather than a new rev­enue stream, that must be seized.

With the typ­i­cal busi­ness owner work­ing more than 60 hours a week, and those in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try up to 70 hours, well­be­ing of­ten tends to be sac­ri­ficed to build­ing the busi­ness.

“They want it all,” says Emma Isaacs, founder of the sub­scrip­tion-based mem­ber­ship en­ter­prise Busi­ness Chicks. “Be­ing com­mit­ted to my busi­ness is a per­sonal choice. I love my work. But I haven’t ex­er­cised in a cou­ple of years. That’s not bal­anced or healthy. [But] I have built flex­i­bil­ity into my busi­ness life and that can be a model for oth­ers.”

Isaacs boasts a mem­ber­ship base of more than 30,000 busi­ness­women and pro­fes­sion­als, who go to her events with high-pro­file guest speak­ers in cap­i­tal cities across Aus­tralia. She says she al­ways knew she had an en­tre­pre­neur­ial streak.

“I was study­ing HR at univer­sity, but it wasn’t fast enough for me. So I got into re­cruit­ment. It’s good to get into busi­ness when you’re young and naive. And re­cruit­ment is a great ground­ing.”

Isaacs took over Busi­ness Chicks af­ter it was put up for sale. “I had no idea what I was do­ing. I had at­tended an event and there was such a buzz. It had an up­beat feel, like a rock concert.” Her flex­i­bil­ity is achieved by hav­ing a strong team around her.

“Our mem­bers are feel­ing the pinch from a lack of time. Some want to be the per­fect mother and the per­fect busi­ness owner. We’re talk­ing about a bunch of re­ally smart women. They know they need a work-life bal­ance, with good diet and good ex­er­cise.”

For Ka­t­rina Wal­ton, the phrase “work-life bal­ance” sends the wrong mes­sage. “I like to use the term work-life in­te­gra­tion,” she says. Wal­ton, who calls her­self a cor­po­rate well­ness strate­gist and runs the Well­ness De­signs con­sul­tancy in Bris­bane, be­lieves many self-em­ployed peo­ple and busi­ness own­ers blur the lines be­tween work and fam­ily life. “They take short­cuts, bring work home, take shorter hol­i­days. They are on their smart­phones at all hours. It is said that peo­ple will of­ten sac­ri­fice health to at­tain

Mor­ris Ka­plan writes for Fri­day’s En­tre­pre­neur sec­tion in The Aus­tralian (mka­plan@big­

wealth, and then spend their wealth to re­gain their health. But it doesn’t have to be like that.”

Wal­ton, who has built a rep­u­ta­tion as a pi­o­neer for cor­po­rate well­ness in Aus­tralia, has more than 16 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in de­vel­op­ing pro­grams for or­gan­i­sa­tions large and small, here and over­seas. She tells small busi­ness own­ers to set aside time in the di­ary each week for ex­er­cise, fam­ily and friends.

“Rather than meet­ing for a cof­fee or drink, meet col­leagues on the golf course or the tennis court. Plan­ning is vi­tal, es­pe­cially for road war­riors. And pack healthy snacks, so you won’t buy choco­late.”

Her favourite tac­tic is out­sourc­ing. “There are things you may not en­joy and which can be read­ily out­sourced. Del­e­gate stuff to a PA or a VA [vir­tual as­sis­tant], es­pe­cially where things are not your core strengths. Sur­round your­self with ex­perts.”

En­trepreneurs need to take “recharge” week­ends, Wal­ton says, and a longer hol­i­day once a year.

A se­den­tary life in­creases mor­bid­ity and is of­ten cou­pled with other un­healthy be­hav­iour. Work­ers and busi­ness own­ers run the risk of obe­sity and other chronic dis­eases. Un­healthy man­agers and work­ers cost in­di­vid­u­als, busi­ness, so­ci­ety and the econ­omy. “At an em­ployer level, it’s sim­ply log­i­cal that if you try to make your em­ploy­ees health­ier, the out­come will be healthy em­ploy­ees with less ab­sen­teeism or chronic con­di­tions.”

Typ­i­cal work­place as­sis­tance in­cludes weight­loss and quit-smok­ing pro­grams, as well as ad­vice on stress man­age­ment, ex­er­cise, diet and fit­ness. “Also, there’s the im­por­tance of small busi­ness own­ers keep­ing a healthy of­fice or work en­vi­ron­ment – for ex­am­ple, by us­ing er­gonomics, nat­u­ral light and ven­ti­la­tion – and pos­i­tive men­tal well­be­ing, through main­tain­ing so­cial and work con­nec­tions, manag­ing stress, boost­ing their re­silience.”

Isaacs con­curs. “It’s re­ally im­por­tant to have a re­silience to stress. You need to watch your re­sponse to stress­ful sit­u­a­tions. You must ed­u­cate your­self about stress – the ef­fect of cor­ti­sol, for ex­am­ple. Emo­tional re­silience is im­por­tant.”

The over­all key, ac­cord­ing to Wal­ton, is “re­duc­ing the im­pact of an in­creas­ingly se­den­tary life­style”. In her spare time, you’ll find her re­lax­ing in a yoga pose, en­joy­ing a glass of Barossa shi­raz or plan­ning her next trekking ex­pe­di­tion.

Busi­ness Chicks founder Emma Isaacs says her own ex­pe­ri­ence can be a model for oth­ers.

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