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CultureAugust 31, 2018
Running a small business is stressful. Between managing suppliers, finances, customers and staff, the life of a small business owner is primed for stress.
Continuing from last month’s post examining employee stress, we wanted to ask the question: what can small business owners do to manage their own stress?
While there may not be a panacea for the stressful lives of small business owners, there are simple things you can do to manage your stress.
It’s easy to get lost in the range of small issues (or full-blown crises) that can accompany running a small business, losing sight of the many victories you’ve had along the way. In those moments when cash flow is stalling, staff are feuding and that leak in the bathroom still isn’t fixed, take a moment to recognise your milestones and achievements in starting and running your own business.
“As you’re building your business, it is easy to only focus on the things that are going wrong. You can become stressed when you’re looking at all the things that are behind schedule, underfunded or need to be fixed,” says Mike Kappel in Entrepreneur.
“You can improve your stress management in business by reminding yourself of the things that are going right. List out all your accomplishments and any small business milestones you’ve achieved.”
The advantage of operating a small business in this digital age is that you have unparalleled ability to delegate — not just to your team, but also to vast networks of freelancers and consultants operating in the so-called gig economy.
At times when you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to let go, delegate more tasks to the people around you, and explore outsourcing where appropriate. You could be surprised by how much of your time and energy is consumed by tedious tasks that could be delegated with a little clever planning and management.
Working long hours, skipping meals, sacrificing sleep and running on caffeine is the perfect storm for stress. If you’re not looking after your own health, you’re less likely to be able to adequately handle the tasks of everyday life — let alone the extra demands of running a small business.
Running a business requires energy, dedication and sound-decision making, all of which become harder if you’re not performing at your best. Take breaks, eat well, make time for friends and family and add a little exercise. Over time you’ll find yourself much more primed to handle the stresses of running a small business.
As a business owner, the temptation is to always be available, constantly connected and accommodating to everyone’s requests but your own. It’s a temptation made all the easier by the emergence of smart devices.
While it’s generally well-intentioned, giving away your time, energy and attention too freely can be a major trigger for stress. Every meeting request you accept, every call you take, every notification you check means you’re saying ‘no’ to other important tasks that could be helping you tackle the major tasks causing you stress.
“If the way your day is structured is a main cause of daily stress, then take your schedule back into your hands,” advises Georgia McIntyre from Fundera. “Build your days around the times when you’re most ready and willing to work, and block off time that you don’t want to be plugged in.”
Let’s face it — accounting, marketing and customer relationship management are essential parts of running a small business. But they can also be repetitive and time-consuming. If the monotony of tedious business tasks is triggering stress, then you should explore automation.
In simple terms, automation takes certain manual tasks and uses online software to deliver them automatically, with little or no input from you. There’s a vast range of automation tools available that can help you with everything from sending invoices to managing Facebook.
“With all the tools currently available to businesses, I cannot believe how much time is still spent on manual tasks,” says Mike Galarza in an article for Forbes. “I’ve seen the possibilities for and impact of automation in accounting first-hand, but it’s also transformed a wide range of other processes such as customer relationship management, marketing, regulatory compliance and cybersecurity.
“Automation can save time, money and headaches — automation tools are more accessible than ever before — yet some companies have been slow to adopt the technology.”