Insight from Richard Carr, Managing Director, Volta Compliance
Growing a business requires grit, enthusiasm, and plenty of hard work. The rewards can be substantial – but with employees and customers relying on you, it’s all too easy to burn out. As founder and managing director of specialist electrical contractor Volta Compliance, I’ve learned how to balance personal well-being with the demands of running a successful company. Below, I’ll share my well-being tips – from embracing healthy habits, to connecting with other leaders.
- Form healthy habits
Shortly after launching Volta in 2016, I made the decision to take on a major contract. The project involved leaving my family for a month – during which time, I lived in a hotel and worked 10-hour days, seven days a week.
This difficult decision paid off, and the profits provided a solid platform for growth. Today I try to achieve a better work-life balance – and key to this is making time for healthy habits.
Studies suggest that exercise can have a positive impact on mental health, helping to promote good quality sleep, reduce stress, and boost your mood. I like to visit the gym, and find that regular workouts enable me to focus. Thanks to apps like Teams and Zoom, you could even take walking meetings.
Connecting with loved ones is also important, and something I try to make time for each day. In practice, that might mean sitting down to dinner with my family, or scheduling coffee with a friend. Spending time with the people who matter most helps me to recharge my batteries.
For years, reading was never high on my to-do list, but I’ve recently begun to appreciate its benefits. I also enjoy audiobooks, which I can listen to as I travel between meetings and appointments. I’ve learned so much about business, sales, and mindset.
- Connect with peers
With growth and success come new, often unexpected challenges. It helps to discuss them with other business leaders, who can empathise, share their own experiences, and even suggest solutions.
Networking can also help leaders to stay motivated and accountable. I belong to ‘The Wolfpack’, a group of successful Yorkshire entrepreneurs. We get together in a local pub, and I’m always inspired by my peers’ stories of success and failure. Additionally, I have joined the Connect Leaders Forum, a peer-to-peer learning group founded by Connect Yorkshire. We meet every few months in a boardroom environment; it’s here that I can share my five-year plan and be held accountable by other business leaders.
These relationships have proved invaluable, helping me to stay on track, sense-check new ideas, and connect with people who understand the challenges of business ownership. It’s worth looking for peer-to-peer groups in your area, or even establishing your own.
- Take time out
It can be difficult to step away from these challenges, whether you’re managing a growing team or juggling ambitious new projects. Maybe you even fear your business will struggle to operate without you (this is known as ‘founder dependence’). Nevertheless, it’s important that you take time out to recharge and reflect.
And it doesn’t need to be for a beach holiday. When I was invited to attend a ‘Wim Hoff’ weekend via a team initiative run by Pentest People, I was dubious; did I really want to brave the Lake District in November?
It proved to be a truly eye-opening experience. The group and I spent time in waterfall pools, rivers, ice baths, and even the sea, learning breathing techniques that we could use to manage real-world stress.
I returned from this long weekend with renewed energy, a fresh perspective, and a clearer understanding of the link between body and mind.
- Be authentic
When it comes to workplace well-being, managers should lead by example, taking regular breaks, leaving the office on time, and being honest about their own mental health. At Volta, we try to foster a relaxed, open, and supportive environment, encouraging staff to share their concerns.
Volta has come a long way in the six years since its launch. What began as a start-up with a small team and an old Astra van is now an established electrical compliance specialist, offering fully managed contracts to market-leading customers. Achieving sustainable growth can be hugely challenging, and I’ve learned that it’s crucial to celebrate your wins – and have fun – along the way.