Reflections on 2023: Focusing on Self-Care for Entrepreneurs

By: Business Advisor Anne Lancaster, Maine SBDC’s 2023 State Star

Mainers are hard-working, dedicated, resilient people who lead their businesses with passion. But, being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart. It often means 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year, year after year after year.  Add in constant change from the pandemic, a difficult labor market, and an evolving economy, and you have a recipe for burnout. The last few years have tested even the best, most determined business owner.

The SBDC works with thousands of business owners every year. As we reflect on 2023, a recurring theme emerges – a focus (or a need to focus) on self-care for business owners. Taking care of oneself often gets left behind as the owner puts its business, people, vendors, and customers first.  Over time this can lead to burnout or even brownout (yes, there is such a thing) where the day-to-day becomes repetitive, foggy, and unclear.  Naturally, this can take a toll on the entrepreneur and wither away at the passion and purpose that they once had. 

We’ve outlined seven simple recommendations for starting a self-care practice:

1. Practice Gratitude.  

Gratitude is a simple way to shift one’s outlook on life/situations.  At the beginning or end of each day, write down all the things and people you are thankful for, both big and small.  Doing this action will help you maintain a positive mindset.  

2. Establish Boundaries.  

Learning to say “no” can be a challenge when one is responsible for the day-to-day operations of a business.  Having clear boundaries will help in prioritizing tasks and relationships.  Before you say “yes”, ask yourself –  is this my responsibility? The more you can delegate, the lighter your load will be.

3. Prioritize your Health.

Establish a daily wellness practice that works for you. Is that exercising in the morning, taking a walk at lunchtime, planning your meals ahead of time, drinking water throughout the day, or having a creative outlet?  A healthy mind, spirit, and body will help you manage the daily stresses of being an entrepreneur.

4. Connect with Others.

Covid changed all of our lives.  Everything is digital – we work remotely, we connect via Zoom, we shop online – all which can limit meaningful connection to people. We can become isolated in this new world order.  Finding time to connect (in person as well as online) is important to maintain healthy relationships.  Having an intentional social calendar is as important as having a work calendar.  When was the last time you met someone for coffee just to connect?   Add this to your “to-do” list for 2024.

5. Seek Professional Help.

We cannot do “life” alone and sometimes having professional help is vital. Know your resources, know where to go, and ask for help when you need it.  We are all human and from time to time, we all need additional support. Do you have a list of those you can reach out to in the time of need?

6. Pursue Hobbies.

Having a creative outlet can be so beneficial. Do you love music, dance, the visual arts? When was the last time you took a class to learn something new or walked in nature to be inspired?  We live in a beautiful world.  Sometimes just walking on a beach or through the forest (and we have many in Maine) can be uplifting.  

7. Take a Break.

This is the most simple of all steps.  


Stop for a minute.

Breathe in deeply.

Clear your mind.


Stop for a minute.

Feel the difference?

Woman lounging on couch with tea in hand, gazing reflectively out the window. Laptop nearby. Self-Care begins with you. As we enter a new year, we hope that you will think about what, when, and how you will create space to take care of yourself so that you will be healthier, happier…and more successful in your business in the coming years.

We are grateful for every client, colleague, family member, and friend. Thank you for a remarkable 2023 and we are looking forward to a refreshed 2024.