This blog topic was borne out of an insensitive comment I recently received from a person who surmised my life could not possibly be as stressful, financially burdensome or anxiety ridden than that of a parent. Needless to say this comment did not go over well. If you are a small business owner like myself, you know that when it comes to running a small business we have to keep a number of plates spinning all at once, and that in turn can lead to a lot of stress and burnout. As a small business owner, we face the dual concern of our company’s financial health and our own individual stability at the same time.
We are a unique group of people. We have always been entrepreneurial and confident in our own abilities – a leader if you will. We tend to have a lot of energy and are constantly thinking about innovation or ways to attract new business, but we often neglect our own health in the process. Being a small business owner does not come with a job description, and more often than not it includes unforeseen stresses and challenges that are out of our control. Stress leads to a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion that can interfere with our ability to successfully keep up with our commitments and effectively run our business.
Finding the right work/life balance should be a top priority. Here are some common stressors for small business owners and tips for managing them.
Common Stress #1 – LACK OF CONTROL
While being your own boss may appear to put you in the driver’s seat, working with business partners, clients, investors and other outside parties puts you in a position where you can actually lack control at times.
Lack of control is the leading cause of stress in the workplace, and for small business owners that translates into a variety of issues that can include: the weather, finding new clients or customers, competition, paying the bills, making payroll, vendor prices and deliveries, employee behavior, employee turnover, government regulations, and a thousand other things. Sure, we can put forth our best efforts to make these things turn out in our favor, but we cannot always control the outcome. So we worry… and worry breeds stress… and stress breeds doubt.
There is no magic pill for dealing with stress. You certainly cannot eliminate it completely, but you can learn to handle it or manage it. One area where you have constant control is how you react to the uncontrollable factors in business. Consider accepting that not all decisions will be made in your favor and aim to have a positive outlook on even those decisions that are not. Naturally, we want to always “win” or complete whatever it is we aim to achieve, but reality tells us that this is not always going to happen. Appreciate your wins, accept what you cannot control, and forgive yourself. Business is not easy, and there is no way that you can run a business and not make mistakes. Wasting energy on looking back and feeling stupid is an exercise in futility that you cannot afford. Move forward!
Common Stress #2 – REACTING TOO SOON OR TOO FAST
So often in business people react to decisions without taking actions to better support them. As a small business owner, this is particularly important because your actions dictate company results. Reactions, on the other hand, are often emotionally driven and as a result, do not effectively support business decisions.
To help resist the urge to react, take time to listen, analyze the situation, consider multiple responses and BREATH. Giving yourself time to evaluate situations versus abruptly reacting to them will not only help your business, but can also ease your stress levels.
Common Stress #3 – NO TIME TO “DO IT ALL”
For many small business owners, 24 hours in a day is likely not enough. Accepting this reality however is the key to eliminating some stress. By acknowledging you can only do so much in a day and accepting that your health – including sleep, exercise and eating habits – all contribute to your overall professional performance, you can better manage your day-to-day stresses. So, budget time to work out, allocate certain hours to family and/or friends, and choose not to check emails during certain hours of the day.
In summary, no one ever said running a small business was going to be easy. Keep perspective. If your stress levels start to get out of hand, you need to make some changes. One benefit of being your own boss is being able to decide what is important to you and to take action. Next time you are on the edge, figure out one small thing you can do to relieve your stress – and do it!