Business & Well Being with Sophie Smith
It is often easy to lose ourselves amid our work and daily responsibilities. Especially during these pandemic days, we are constantly put under the stress of the unknown and unpredictable. Physical and mental well-being is usually pushed aside when we decide to dedicate our all to our business, as women entrepreneurs, the majority of us are juggling multiple jobs and endless responsibilities all at once. Effectively this leads to burnout and even though the results of the hard work come out great, running around constantly on a couple of hours of sleep and migraines do end up taking a toll.
We recently spoke with an admirable lady who has dedicated her all to the well-being industry. Sophie Smith the co-founder and CEO of Nabta Health, a health care platform aimed to provide medical assistance and empowering support with all women-related health problems. Sophie’s ambitions center around creating a system where healthcare is affordable and accessible to all women conveniently and privately.
We asked Sophie to weigh in on the topic of women entrepreneurs’ physical and mental health in the business world. She humbly shared her story and expert opinion on how we can take care of ourselves and our business simultaneously without putting our health on the line.
Q : How does your mental wellness play a role in building a successful business?
Mental wellness is a critical part of building a successful business. As a founder, you are the public face of the business and receive 99% of the feedback about the business, whether good or bad. You have to learn very quickly to receive and process criticism in a neutral and objective way, otherwise you end up being subjected to an endless rollercoaster of emotions.
Q : What are the different ways you can keep yourself in check and take care of yourself if you are feeling unbalanced?
Self-care is a critical part of maintaining good physical and mental wellbeing. Making time to exercise, to decompress in whatever manner works best for you, to understand your body, and to make informed dietary and lifestyle decisions all contribute to improved mental wellness. Another critical thing as a founder is to learn to quickly identify "toxic" influences in your life - individuals who are predominantly negative, who point out problems with the business rather than brainstorming with you to find solutions, and who leave you feeling drained. Limit your contact with these individuals; you have enough to deal with.
Q : How can entrepreneurs manage their time to take care of themselves and stay on track with their business plan?
There's an illusion in business, and particularly in the startup world, that the number of hours you work is directly correlated to your productivity and progress. This simply isn't the case. Some of the most productive founders I know are primary caregivers who split their time equally between running their businesses and raising their children. Yes, there is always more to do as a founder, but limiting the number of hours you work every day and setting aside time to exercise, to decompress, and to be with your family can make you more productive - better able to prioritize tasks, more discerning with your relationships, and less inclined to indulge time-wasters.
Q : How should we deal with the challenges we face in the business world because of our gender?
The best thing we can do as women in business is to support other women wherever possible, at every age and stage. That starts with the women you employ. Introduce flexible, part-time and role-sharing policies. Replace minimum maternity / paternity leave provisions with paid, shared parental leave, so that women and men within your organizations have equal opportunities to participate in the transition to parenthood. Think about whether your office, if you have one, is "female friendly" - Is there a dedicated breastfeeding / pumping space for new mothers? Is there fridge space for women to store pumped milk? Do you provide free, eco-friendly sanitary products in your toilets? After a while, the little things add up.
Q : How can we support each other as a part of the female entrepreneur community?
Founders should be open to offering mentorship to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, whether male or female. Mentorship is generally more hands-on than people expect it to be, so having more than 2 or 3 mentees at a time isn't recommended - you have your own business to run as well, after all! Generally, you should try to support mentees through a particular stage, whether getting their product to market, entering a new market, or navigating a funding round. Once they pass that stage, it's time for you to find a new mentee, and for them to find mentees of their own. Paying it forwards is the fastest way to ensure we all succeed.
Q : What was the most difficult moment for you and how did you overcome it?
Difficult moments are only the "most" difficult until a new difficult moment comes along. There are many highs and lows of business. It's important to see these all as formative moments - opportunities to become a better, kinder, more astute businessperson. I have lost track of all the difficult moments I've had while building Nabta Health - losing good people, fumbling investor pitches, being made aware of the consequences of bad business decisions, having people actively try to discredit you... but you get through them, and you learn from them. And that cumulative learning is what makes it possible for you to avoid and recover from difficult moments in the future.