Being clear of the worst, I am now able to comfortably state that I spent the last year engaged in a medical crisis. As June approaches I am reminded of where I was this time a year ago and still surprised at how naive I really was when my body began to shut down on me. Then 27 and a lifelong athlete with no prior medical problems, I simply told myself that the strange dizzy spells, bouts of weakness in my legs and sudden shortness of breath I was experiencing had everything to do with my devotion to my business and lack of dedication to diet/exercise.

As a busy solo entrepreneur transitioning from part-time consultant/freelancer to full-time business owner it became the norm to grab whatever was convenient for meals- like a slice, burgers and burritos, drown each bite with caffeine and then neglect the gym in exchange for a few drinks at the bar to unwind.

As the strange symptoms went from occasional moments of oddity to blatantly obvious reasons for concern, I went through the excuses: I’m not eating that well, I’m not sleeping that well (I had a terrible habit of staying up until 4am working and starting again at 10am) or I’m not getting enough fitness. I was also devoting a considerable amount of time to my then girlfriend and ignoring my own needs in regards to time and emotional fulfillment from friends/family.

In other words, I was neglecting all of the critical factors for personal health: physical fitness, nutrition, human connection and rest. For the average person looking in it was pretty obvious that I was in need of a massive shift in lifestyle. As an entrepreneur I simply didn’t have the time to deal with it. If only I could go back and shake myself for such ignorance.

When I began feeling an aggressive and uncomfortable aching in my lower abdomen I knew that I had walked to the end of the line with whatever was impacting my health. On June 3rd, after weeks of encouragement from those close to me, I casually ventured into the emergency room. Of course, I had saved the trip for the end of the day- as I made time to take a lunch meeting with a friend and preview a venue for a client event with my intern first. Once again, taking care of me was my last priority.

When the ER nurse at check-in first looked at me she blurted out, ‘you look terrible’.  I was pale, weak and immediately worried. It was becoming evident that my self-diagnosis of needing a simple prescription to correct some small dietary imbalance was far from reality. The average human has a hemoglobin level of 13-17, which is really a measure of the amount of oxygen in your blood. Tests indicated my level was 4.7 that day. I was later told I should have had a heart attack or stroke weeks before. I was admitted for a barrage of follow-up tests. It was already known that I was severely anemic. A few days later, like a silent bullet ripping through me while I walked down the sidewalk, the true diagnosis came.  

‘You have leukemia’. I was no longer the founder of my own company, a soccer player or a writer… the only title that now resonated with my identity was the one that we all dread: cancer patient. It was a term I had heard before and immediately associated with death.

Fortunately, I was built for the battle that lay ahead and I had the support around me to fight through the 5 months of treatment, stem-cell transplant and on-going maintenance that followed. Luckily, I am able to write this blog feeling near normal health again and with a new found vigor for bringing C2Bseen services to socially-conscious and passionate entrepreneurs who are working to realize their own visions. However, without a mix of luck and miracle involved, my fortune could just as easily been tragedy.

In recent weeks I have had some transformative conversations with individuals exploring their deepest inner purpose and wishes for a life of fulfillment. While financial concerns, professional aspirations and ambitious tangible goals are a piece of that puzzle, our talks always seem to come back to the simple things that construct a real platform for happiness and success; the same things I was ignoring while blindly believing all my time and energy had to go toward my start-up.

The lesson I learned the hard way, but am richer for knowing, is that without self-preservation of your innate human needs you are depriving yourself of the possibility for professional longevity. A sick, exhausted, discontent and disconnected entrepreneur at the helm will only breed a similar culture. An absent entrepreneur forced into the hospital won’t be able to work at all. The rule is clear: when you ignore you the work will suffer, growth will be stunted and creativity will stall.

There are a thousand quotes that claim that the successful business person gets there by burying their head and digging in. In theory this is accurate: you will need to work as hard as or harder than everyone you know and most certainly your competition. However, there is such a thing as a business that fits your lifestyle and you should be open and honest about what you need on a personal level in order to build a prosperous company.

Entrepreneurs that fail to recognize the need for purity in mind, body and soul are setting themselves up for almost certain ruin. Heed my warning before an irreversible wake-up call does it for you.

I often spend precious minutes in my day wishing there was someone to take a project or admin task off of my always over-flowing plate of responsibility. We all know that being an entrepreneur means accepting the hours, demands and surprises that come with running a business. As a consultant, this can mean taking on even more of those extra time wasters personally. However, delegation is possibly the greatest tactic we have available to us in order to save our most important commodities: time & energy.

Until recently I assumed that delegation also required other people or subordinates. It is awfully difficult to move something off your plate if there isn’t another plate at the table. Usually in that scenario, the task just falls onto the floor, gets stuck to the bottom of a shoe and ends up as a weird stain somewhere on a sidewalk a few blocks away.

I have been searching for a C2Bseen intern for a few weeks now and come across some real gems (sarcasm). It could be that my personal dedication to professionalism clouds my ability to admit that not everyone wants to work quite as hard as I do, but I am starting to think that this generation of young people is simply ill-equipped for the workplace. The interviews and responses I have received have lacked enthusiasm, direction and understanding of what it really takes to inspire an employer to grant you an opportunity. Since my search has yet to yield a proper candidate, I am now examining other ways to delegate, outsource and run C2Bseen as efficiently as possible as we rapidly grow.

One incredible discovery I made was New York City’s Small Business Services division, which offers incredible classes and programs to help entrepreneurs start and cultivate efficient businesses. Perhaps coolest of all, Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to growth in the sector means that the programs are well-funded and usually free.

Take for example the FastTrac New Venture course created by The Kauffman Foundation. I was fortunate to apply to this incredible program and be accepted for their April session. It  has led me to better understand my own business model, observe and interact with my customer base (other entrepreneurs) first hand and evaluate a potential new service offering to decide if it is viable for the marketplace. Furthermore, it has exposed me to resources I was unfamiliar with; my favorite being access to incredibly expensive research databases at no cost in the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) on 34th street.

Classmates from the FastTrac program have already become clients and vendors of C2Bseen. Others now serve as soundboards or collaborators in sharing paid resources (such as web, accounting and legal services). The databases at SIBL have helped to drastically reduce the time needed to conduct accurate research for our clients too. Incredibly, access to a network of over 2,000 other graduates of the course is also available to us upon our course completion. In just this one complimentary city program I have unearthed an amazing list of cost-cutting, efficiency generating benefits.

Why this is relevant to you is in the underlying message learned from my process. There are an infinite number of resources and creative ways to make your life as a business owner easier. Entrepreneurship does not have to consume all of you and you don’t always need to hire another set of hands. By forming partnerships, accessing free resources and establishing a broad network of connections you are positioning yourself to run a lean profit-making venture.