Being a small business owner—or the owner of any business, for that matter—comes with its share of “perks.” There’s the autonomy—you call the shots. You have the personal satisfaction of taking an idea from concept to reality, without the interference of superiors. You enjoy a sense of fulfillment that may not have been possible when working for someone else. Your schedule is more flexible because you’re your own boss—at least, theoretically.
However, with these “perks” comes stress—the stress of responsibility for the success of your company, for keeping customers and employees happy, for maintaining a good work/life balance, and more. Such stress can have a negative impact on your health and cause not only seemingly minor problems, such as headaches and insomnia, but also more serious maladies, like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Stress can also lead to mental exhaustion and, in turn, the inability to effectively run your business. Fortunately, there are several ways small business owners can reduce stress and regain their tranquility. E-Complish shares them here.
- Identify your response(s) to stress. Different people have different physiological and psychological responses to stress. Some get angry; others burst into tears. Some get a pounding headache; others have heart palpitations. Identifying the way in which you personally react to stress—if necessary, over a period of months if you don’t see an immediate pattern—is the first step to relieving it. Only when you’ve pinpointed your own reaction to stress will you be able to determine what may alleviate it in your particular case
- Learn to delegate. It has been said that if you want something done right, do it yourself, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Remember, you hired competent employees. Make the most of your human resources investment, and give staff members a chance to prove their worth.
- Accentuate the positive. If you’re like most small business owners, stress causes you to focus on everything that’s currently and simultaneously going wrong with your operation. It may also lead you to blame the trouble on yourself. Resist, and think about what’s going right. Your stress levels will decrease naturally when you ponder the positive and avoid dwelling on the negative at any given time.
- Establish boundaries with employees. When you’re a business owner, everyone wants your attention. This can be very stress-inducing and emotionally draining. Difficult as it may seem, turning it around in the workplace usually means setting boundaries—for example, telling people that you’re available only during certain hours on certain days, or that you’re involved in a project or task and will be unable to assist with anything else until it’s finished, or even that you’re going to go home at a certain time each day unless there’s a dire emergency. Staff members may need time to adjust to this change, but they eventually will.
- Focus. The longer your “to-do” list, the more stress you will feel. So whenever possible, avoid jumping from task to task or project to project, leaving multiple ones unfinished.
- Give yourself a break. You may think taking a break at work, especially when you’re being pulled in many directions, will only create more stress. However, closing your office door for just a few minutes of uninterrupted break time—with your calls held and your mobile phone switched off—often has the opposite effect, energizing you and making it easier to resist stress triggers while sparking your creativity. Additionally, resist the idea of skipping a vacation or two each year. When in doubt about whether your employees can handle it, see Tip #3.
- Engage in self-care. The more you take care of yourself, the less you will be bothered by your stress triggers. “Self-care” means different things to different people, but some options include ensuring that you get enough sleep each night (eight hours is recommended), eating more healthily, and/or sitting down to meals rather than “inhaling” food at your desk. It might also involve getting enough exercise, signing up for a yoga class, setting aside time to meditate daily, or even spending time with your pet. Some studies have shown that petting an animal for a few minutes lowers blood pressure.
- Look beyond problems and failures. At some point in your career as a small business owner, you’ll feel as if the “failure or problem “quotient” in your company exceeds the “success quotient.” Instead of allowing this to add to your stress, evaluate what might have caused the situation and come up with a plan for moving forward. The optimism that comes with planning will temper at least some of the stress you feel.
No small business owner can escape stress, but every small business owner can control it. Following these tips should keep you on a good path.