Julia on the beach. Cover photo for Are you caught in the Entrepreneurial Trap?

If you’re a small business owner or a startup founder, I’m sure you recognize the Entrepreneurial Trap. It’s that state of working too much, hustling hard and earning too little. As an entrepreneur, you’ve taken a leap of faith to follow your big dreams for change – in the world and in your life. Yet, far too often, we get stuck in a downward spiral of overwhelm.

As an entrepreneur and a mother, I felt like I was never enough.

I’ve been in the entrepreneurial trap for a long time. In the early days the hustling was fun. I’d take risks and enjoy the thrill of creating something from thin air. The win of being my own boss was huge! My husband, also an entrepreneur, and I even lived out of a suitcase for a while. We traveled the world together, and spent time in my parent’s basement and my parents-in-law’s little cabin as we were between trips.

Yet, as time went I began to crave some kind of work-life balance and stability.

This definitely showed up as I had kids. After my second was born, I began experiencing quite a bit of stress symptoms. When I was working, I felt like I wasn’t enough as a mother, and when I was caring for my children I felt like I wasn’t doing enough at work. I was overwhelmed and working late evenings as a sleep-deprived mother.

An online tool calculated that when my oldest was 3.5 years old, I had already lost 177 days of sleep. That’s almost 6 whole months!

When my youngest was 2, I was on the verge of breaking down. I ended up calling my children’s nurse while crying on the phone. A complete lack of self care and high levels of stress took the best of me.

Reaching out for help was the first step towards change. Since then, I’ve gone to therapy, invested in courses, coaches and my own personal and professional development.

I’ve changed how I live my life and how I run my business.

Today, I work part-time in my business, while focusing on what matters most – in my business and in my life. I’m happier, more efficient and more present in my work and with my family.

Here’s what I’ve learned that has made me a better parent and a better leader as a Conscious Entrepreneur.

Here are 5 steps to go from overwhelmed to free as an entrepreneur.

1. Pull the breaks!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, your body is signalling for you to slow down. So, first of all, stop and breathe. If you feel trapped and have a hard time thinking clearly, reach out for help. Contact a trusted friend, role model or mentor. Connect with a doctor, therapist or mental health professional.

Just know that you’re not alone in feeling this way. It’s far too common. That’s why I’m so invested in ending hustle culture and supporting business owners and founders to become Conscious Entrepreneurs.

Stop what you’re doing and give yourself time to rest and reconnect with yourself.

2. Invest in your health, wellbeing, sleep and personal development.

As Maya Angelou so wisely said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” ​

It’s not about working hard all the time or about doing ALL the things in your business, household and life. Instead, it’s about being conscious about caring for yourself first.

If you’re not working well, all the other parts in your life will fall. And the opposite is true too. When you’re fueled up and living well you can begin to build an impactful business and life.

​It’s about giving yourself what you need to thrive. 

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Schedule time to wind down in the evenings
  • Get those 8 hours of sleep
  • Start a daily gratitude journal
  • Have a health morning routine and move your body (no you don’t need to wake up at 5am and get everything done before the kids wake up – I just take a walk every day after leaving my daughter at school)
  • Read books and listen to podcasts that inspire you to think and act in congruence with who you want to be
  • Invest in a personal coach
  • Drink more water

Start with small things that you know you can commit to – and then create habit hooks that will make it easier for you to stay accountable. Keep your daily journal on your bedside table and write in it before even getting out of bed. Get dressed in your work out clothes, so that you’ll more easily do those exercises before sitting down at your desk.

3. Set your goals and intentions every day.

Aligning yourself with your goals, is so much more than trying to accomplish more things. That’s how goal setting can get overwhelming – especially for ambitious entrepreneurs. Instead, when you align yourself with your goals you identify with them.

When you identify as a successful and efficient entrepreneur, you’ll have a greater chance at becoming one. Now, success is so individual – which is why it is something you need to clearly define.

What are your goals? What is success for you?

As you find clarity in where you want to go, you can more easily focus on what matters most. It will also help you set meaningful intentions every day, that’s aligned with who you want to be.

I set intentions every morning – both in terms of what would make the day great (time with my kids, getting certain tasks done, working out or eating well) and in terms of who I am. The latter is a kind of affirmation that sets my intention for how I want to be. It helps me be the person I want to become. Slowly but surely, I’ve seen that I have, indeed, become that person.

4. Scale back on your work and simplify.

Against common beliefs, you don’t need to work more to succeed with your business. You need to work more efficiently, by scaling back on the things that aren’t truly important. It’s about simplifying your work day and prioritizing your work tasks, rather than trying to fit in more.

Today, I’m working way less than before, but I can honestly tell you that I’m way more productive. I have systems in place that help me prioritize my tasks, automates my work and allows me to feel like I’ve accomplished something every single day.

Ask yourself if there is something (a task or project) you can delete all together. Sometimes you have many things on your list of items that don’t need to be there at all. Are there items on your to-do-list that you can delegate or postpone? Focus your efforts on the things that truly drive your business forward.

5. Build a strong foundation as a Conscious Entrepreneur.

In order to build the business and life that you truly desire, you need to create a sustainable foundation. The foundation needs to incorporate your vision, mission, strategy and plan – all aligned with what truly matters most to you.

Once you become conscious about the impact that you have in your own life, your family, your business and the world – you’ll understand your power.

The truth is – you’re more powerful than you think.

It doesn’t mean that you have all the answers right now, but you have what it takes to get there. Being a Conscious Entrepreneur is just as much about growing and learning, as it is about being aware of your impact and power.

When you learn you grow and you can become the best version of yourself when you open up your mind and your heart.