How to run a (food) startup and not go nuts

This is very different from our usual posts but we thought still worth sharing here. 

It's been a crazy few months for us here at Jake's Boost and I thought it might be nice to take a second to review and share some of our 'wisdom' with you on how to run a food startup without going bats*** crazy. 

This is not set in stone and scientifically proven or backed by business advisers etc but originated from our experience in running our business- your experience might be totally different and that's fine. Not every piece of advice works for everyone. 


It's super-easy to drown in the madness and bottomless bog of day-to-day tasks that you have to deal with as a CEO of new venture.

But if you wanted an easy-peasy cushy 9-5 job you wouldn't have picked entrepreneurship, right. 


So, first of all, the feeling of running a circus while trying to tame a herd of cats is normal. No day is ever the same and you never have just a good day -something always happens. And yes, feeling as if you always take 1 step forward and sometimes 3 back is also normal, not a nice feeling, but still, very common. 

And yes, we did go into the garage for a little screaming therapy occasionally because the delivery driver hasn't turned up for the 2nd time even though booked 3 days in advance and confirmed by phone to make sure this really important first delivery to a new client goes out on time- unfortunately, punching delivery drivers is frowned upon....


It is easier said than done to not lose sight of the big picture when you feel that all you do every day is firefighting rather than being able to work on the overall strategy and long-term goal. And by firefighting we mean the things that happen unforeseen, out of the blue, and unexpected. Late payments, raw material out of stock, people calling in sick, items unavailable etc etc etc.

Putting all rainbows and unicorns aside: running a startup isn't cool and it isn't fun, or at least not all the time. So, we hope that this list, if you can start setting those rules for your self now, can help you stay calm and focused when the -figuratively speaking- 'faeces hits the fan'.


1. Sleep: always go for quality rather than quantity. And by that we mean, figure out when your deep sleep phase is where you get the best, most rejuvenating sleep of the night. It might be worth investing in a sleep tracker or to look for an app that can help you find your best sleeping pattern. Also, don't 'compensate' by having a lie-in on the weekend. Your body will lose its rhythm which might result in worse night's sleep the night after when you really need it to prepare for the busy week ahead.


2. Eat well: when strapped for time, resorting to quick and easy fast food, ideally delivered to the office door, is a mistake easily made. With so many healthy options available on the high street nowadays, there's no reason for you to jeopardise your wellbeing by eating crap. You need nutrients to keep your brain cells and your heart healthy, to give you energy and combat stress. Cooking a healthy meal in the office and sitting down together to eat, even if it is only 30 minutes out of your day, is a great team bonding opportunity. In the evenings, preparing food can be a great way to relax and wind down and no, healthy doesn't mean that it takes an awful long time to prepare...


3. Drink water: Water regulates your body temperature, lubricates your joints and it helps your heart to pump blood through your blood vessels which in turn transports oxygen, especially to your brain. If you are not hydrated you feel dizzy and nauseous or get headaches and fatigue. get yourself a water bottle with a straw to control your fluid intake and if you find water on its own bland, mix it with some cucumber, mint or herbal/fruit teas. 


4. Exercise: The first thing that will lag behind when you start running your own business is usually your exercise regime. If you are hungry your body will tell you, if you are tired your body will tell you, but it is very easy to miss the signs when your body gives you when you need to move. Usually you notice it when it's too late: short and tight hamstrings, back pain, with gain etc. We don't say you have to join the gym but why not try to squeeze in some bodyweight training in the morning before work? Use the bike or walk into work instead of using the bus/underground? Exercise combats stress and contributes to your overall wellbeing including improving your brain activity. Do it before touching your computer, reading emails, having meetings or anything that you can use as an excuse. You are less likely to go to the gym or drag yourself through an hour-long HIIT workout when you leave the office, drained and tired. Just imagine what the vicious cycle of not sleeping well, then fuelling up on caffeine, not exercising and eating crap can do to you.


5. Get some quality "me time": 20 minutes a day, no phone, no email, no disturbances. Download a meditation app or listen to your favourite podcast. Turn down the lights, put some candles on, and do a brief yoga flow. Buy yourself a big chai latte and sit on a park bench= do nothing! Your brain needs this time to switch off, recuperate and rewire. You will be able to focus and concentrate better which will allow you to get tasks done quicker, giving you the feeling of satisfaction and achievement and a confidence boost. Don't underestimate the power of solitude. 


6. Get stuff done: Get the most annoying, uncomfortable or unpleasant out of the way first. Let it be phone calls or meetings with your bank, paying bills or whatever task it is that you are most likely to procrastinate. Otherwise, it will occupy your thoughts all day and distract you from the things that are important. 


7.   Ask for help: We like to think we are superheroes but we are not. The entrepreneurs' biggest strengths are also his/her biggest weaknesses. The enthusiasm, creativity and energy of startup founders can result in them running around like headless chickens, following 10 leads at the same time and running themselves to the ground, risking burnout and worst case, the success of the company. There's no shame in asking for help when it all becomes too much and overwhelming. Your co-founder might not be the right person to talk to as he/she usually has similar issues. That's why it is so important to have a mentor, someone who not involved in the company and can give you objective feedback and advice.Or just having a little moaning session with your best buddy can provide short relief of pressure you find yourself under at a particularly stressful time in the office. You might even want to consider getting a coach- let it be a business or a health coach- who can give you professional guidance on how to deal with such situations. The cost of a coach or consultant is far less than the cost of missing opportunities due to burnout. 


Bear in mind that everything always takes 10 times longer than you think, work will never be 'done', you can't always rely on promises people make and don't overestimate your own physical and physiological strengths. 


In order to do well as a business you have to be well as the entrepreneur running it and taking it on the journey to success.