Are You Fit to Run Your Business?

Lose weight. Get fit. Get my finances in order. The three most common New Year’s resolutions. Well here we are at February 22nd and I suspect the vast majority of people who adopted those worthy aims have quietly shelved them. Including a good number of entrepreneurs.

For once, this isn’t a blog inspired by something I heard on the radio. But I’m always listening in the car and the majority of the time it’s 5Live. So I was desperately sad to hear of the recent death of David Oates, one of the commentators who made the road back home a little less long and winding than it might otherwise have seemed.

David Oates died suddenly at 50. And the simple – and unwelcome – fact is that we all knew someone who died around that age. As I look across the various Board tables 50 might not be the average age, but it’s not uncommon.

I was still turning this over in my mind when I came across this article in the Harvard Business Review – ‘Sitting is the smoking of our generation.’

I’ll let you read it for yourself – I don’t want to depress you over your breakfast – but if your working day consists of sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen it is not good news.

I know virtually no-one who smokes. Do I know people whose working day consists of sitting at a desk etc etc? They are all around me.

I wrote last week about the importance of fundamentals. Despite the seductive appeal of an increasing number of Twitter followers or a new high for your page-views, what really mattered was your net profit; your number of new clients. Those figures have been around for a long time – but they’re currently a little out of vogue in the rush to embrace the new social media metrics.

Well, there are another set of figures that matter. Let me ask three simple questions:

– Do you know what your blood pressure is?
– Do you know what your cholesterol level is?
– What’s your body fat percentage?

The vast majority of people reading this blog are not just integral to their business, they are the business. I don’t want to sound like someone recommending critical illness cover (I can suggest an excellent TAB member if you need to discuss it, though…) but it is absolutely ridiculous that so many business owners can tell you the click-through rate on a Google Adwords campaign but have no idea what their cholesterol level is.

So what should you do about it? Well in America standing desks are now all the rage, so watch out if the Boardroom table seems a little higher than normal at the next TAB meeting!

Assuming you’re not going to re-arrange the office, here’s a simpler suggestion: go for a walk. Instead of joining the 50% plus of British workers who eat a sandwich at their desk – while wondering if there’s anything interesting on the internet that won’t get them sacked – go for a walk. Even if it’s only ten or fifteen minutes; find a hill and walk up it. This is North Yorkshire: hills are not in short supply.

I promise you that a small improvement in your health and fitness will be one of the best investments in your business you ever make. I’ll freely admit to not feeling at my peak at the end of last year. Maybe no-one else noticed: but I did. Now I’m exercising more – squash three times a week – and I’m absolutely certain my business performance and service to my clients has improved.

I know finding the time is difficult – but in the long run an appointment with your health is every bit as important as an appointment with a client. So I’d love to know how Board members and blog readers keep healthy. In the meantime, where are my trainers…



  1. JOHN B · February 22, 2013

    Ed I keep healthy by running. I have taken part in other sports in the past, eg badminton, but organising them was too complicated. All I need now is my trainers. Since my wife got involved too we have another interest we can share outside of our busy business lives.

  2. Jo Clarkson · February 22, 2013

    Sage words as always – and I highly recommend participating in a Park Run! A free 5k run at 9am every Sunday morning in a park near you – register on line, get a bar code and you’ll get your times, how close you are to the world best time for your age/sex category (!!) and lots of other stuff to keep you motivated! 300 of us run on the Stray in Harrogate every week – but they’re all over! I’ve got an official role – I’m the back marker (no – honestly – I get to wear a high vis vest and everything!) – so I can vouch for the fact that it doesn’t matter how unfit you are to start with or how slow you’re going to be, you’ll be really welcome (you can chat to me!). Look forward to seeing you there!!

  3. Steven Partridge · February 22, 2013

    I generally walk into the office and back – it takes broadly the same time as any other means of travel into York from home.

  4. Louise Roberts (@taxperspective) · February 28, 2013

    You’re absolutely right Ed – you won’t be worried about your Twitter followers when you’re dead! I have never enjoyed exercise and it pains me to think about it. However, I am conscious that if I look after myself I will be more successful in every area of my life because I’ll still be here!

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