Every part of your business has the potential to stress you out and keep you up at night — lack of sales, too much debt, not enough money, issues with employees, problems with equipment and operations. Your brain will constantly be going. All your problems and thoughts will be whirling around, making you tired and anxious. The pressure of constantly finding ways to grow your bottom line in business builds up.
Owning a business is stressful, and you can’t really escape it. The sooner you learn small business stress management, the better. As a serial entrepreneur, I know a lot about small business owner anxiety and stress. Here are my five tips for combating small business owner stress.
1. Remember what’s going right.
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. 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. There are probably more than you realize. Don’t neglect even the smallest accomplishments. Put your list somewhere you can easily see it, such as on your desk or the wall. Whenever you feel stressed about all the things that are going wrong, look at your list. Take a moment to remember all the things that have gone right.
2. Rank your tasks.
One of the causes of stress in business is having so many things to work on that none of them get done. If you try to do a little bit of each task, you will complete few of them. Don’t try to do everything at once. Try to focus on one or a small number of tasks at a time. You need to prioritize your goals. Write down everything that you need to complete. Then, rank your tasks from greatest to least. The things you need to do first should be at the top of your list. As you work, focus on the most important tasks. Once you finish those, you can move down the list. You’re essentially creating an agenda for yourself. Now, some people might get stressed when they see the number of tasks they need to do. Try not to get overwhelmed by the length of your list. Focus on what you need to work on next.
3. Purge your brain.
As a business owner, there’s rarely a separation between work and home. You’ll constantly think about your business and the things you could be doing. Sometimes, you can’t stop thinking about your business. Your brain is on nonstop, even when you’re trying to sleep. When my brain won’t shut down, I write everything down that my mind is trying to process. I’ll write down my problem, possible solutions and miscellaneous notes. Sometimes writing everything out can take a while, but it’s worth it. After I write everything down, I can relax and sleep. My brain doesn’t have anything to process because I put all my thoughts in a safe place. I don’t have to worry about my business for a time because I know everything is waiting for me later, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
4. Take breaks.
This is probably the simplest piece of business owner stress management advice — take a break. If you’re constantly spinning your wheels, not getting anywhere, and stressing about the problem, taking a short break might be all you need. Stepping away from the stressor for even 10 minutes can refresh and calm you. Taking a break can even prevent burnout. When you take a break, do something that relaxes you. Go for a walk. Get some coffee. Call a friend. Watch a funny video. Don’t do anything business related. When you get back to your business, you will have a clearer mind. You will have fresh energy to tackle the task. And, stepping away might even open your eyes to a new and better way to complete the task.
5. Take care of yourself.
Good health is important when you’re an entrepreneur. Running a business takes a lot out of you. Your small business comes with long nights, early mornings, no weekends and no sick days. Your nonstop life puts strain on your body, and then you add stress on top of that. You need to take care of yourself. Don’t forget to do the simple things. Drink water throughout the day. Regularly eat. Get some sleep. Try to do some additional things, too. Go to a health food store and buy some natural supplements. Reduce your caffeine consumption. When you’re healthy, your body can better handle the stress. If you can, regularly exercise. While exercise will make you physically fit, it is also a great method of small business stress management. Through exercise, you can release your anxieties and frustrations. You can clear your mind and relax. Even a small amount of exercise can reduce your stress.
By Mike Kappel, CEO of Patriot Software Company CEO