5 things entrepreneurs should never sacrifice while building a business

Simon Slade
Getty Images | Molly Riley

Sacrifices are important to success. In order to doggedly pursue a goal, some things have to be given up.

But figuring out what to sacrifice and when is not a simple equation.

In order to remain true to yourself and your company, you must consider elements of your life to be non-negotiable. Here the top five.

1. Your health

The exhausted, overworked entrepreneur is a tired and ill-informed stereotype. If a business owner is surviving on four hours of sleep a night and a diet of coffee and fast food, they're not going to achieve much for their company.

Getting adequate sleep, exercising and eating a healthy diet will make you a more effective leader for your business. There is a direct link between health and productivity, and most successful entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson and Jack Dorsey, make it a priority.

Instead of pulling an all-nighter to troubleshoot your website, go to bed. Wake up early and tackle it in the morning. The more exhausted your brain, the less efficiently you'll operate and the more likely you'll make a mistake.

Build exercise, sleep and healthy eating into your schedule. Make time to work out on your lunch break, set a firm bedtime for yourself or spend an hour meal-planning on Sundays. Sacrificing your health for the sake of your business is counterproductive.

2. Your family

It doesn't have to be a "family" in the traditional sense. It means your support network — the people around you who hold you up, ground you and provide a reliable safety net. No entrepreneur is anything without these people.

Your family might be your spouse and children, a close circle of friends or your parents. Whomever they are, you can't sacrifice your family in the pursuit of your business goals.

You will lose some headspace while attending to your business. It will require a lot of attention, but that attention shouldn't be to the detriment of your inner circle. The people who have helped you get to this point should never take the backseat. Always make time to appreciate them and recognize them.

Mark Zuckerberg, for example, makes it a point to be home three nights a week to give his daughter a bath.

Your priorities speak volumes about your character, so it's important to keep those priorities straight if you want to be successful.

3. Your vision

People will pull you left and right as you build your business. It can be easy to get confused and forget the original vision and mission of your company. Don't let this happen.

While it's important to be adaptable, it's also important to stay committed to your vision. Don't let the negativity and criticism of others diminish your idea. Many of the most famous and innovative entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk, were told many times that they were crazy.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX
Photo by Kevork Djansezian

People will try to get you to change your ideas so much that you don't recognize them anymore. But as an entrepreneur, you cannot afford to sacrifice your vision.

4. Your curiosity

A unifying characteristic of successful entrepreneurs is curiosity: a willingness to think of things differently, consider the impossible and flesh out complex ideas.

This curiosity is a playful thing, and some entrepreneurs find themselves sacrificing it when they move into the formal environment of the business world. But curiosity breeds innovation, which is integral to your business's success.

Warren Buffett says that both he and Bill Gates are motivated by curiosity.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are friends and leading voices promoting philanthropy.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris

Don't let formality and seriousness overcome you. Always remain playfully curious, as this quality will help — not hinder — your business growth.

5. Your team

The people whom you bring on to help build your business — from your partner to your website designer — are central to your mission. These people aren't the backs upon which you build a business, they are the business.

Like your family, your employees should be treated with respect and appreciation at all times. Sacrificing your relationship with the team that holds up your business will only hurt your progress and tarnish your company's reputation. Just ask Uber's Travis Kalanick.

Holding true to a set of values will improve not only the way people perceive you as a boss and business owner, but your self-image as well. A business isn't worth much if you give away literally everything — your health, your values, your family—to get it. When it comes time to make the hard decisions, don't let go of these parts of your life.

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