The challenges of owning a business aren’t always about hiring employees or satisfying customers. Sometimes, the struggles are a little more personal. And usually, the end result is stress.
Learning how to deal with stress may be as important to your long-term business success as learning how to make a profit. In fact, failing to manage stress can kill you, studies show.
Yet stress and business ownership go hand-in-hand. In a recent survey of small business owners, 65 percent say they are almost always on the go. And only half said they had enough time to spend with their friends and family.
“Finding the right work/life balance and giving back to the community are top priorities,” according to a statement from USBancorp, which conducted the survey.
Finding that balance can be a real challenge, said Rosalie Moscoe, owner of Toronto-based HealthinHarmony, a wellness consulting firm that specializes in helping workers deal with stress.
“When you’re in your own business, there are many things to think about that you didn’t have to worry about before,” Moscoe told BusinessNewsDaily. “Making loan payments, spending your savings, no money coming in and all your money going out.”
The personal struggles faced by small business owners are emotional, physical, mental and financial, Moscoe said.
There is little one can to do eliminate the issues that cause stress. You’ll most likely be working more hours than you were before, you’ll be overwhelmed and overworked. If you’re just starting out, you may also find starting your own business is lonely, which can also cause stress, Moscoe said.
The key to managing stress is keeping a good balance between work and home, even if you work long hours. Moscoe suggests:
- Set a schedule as if you were going to a regular job.
- Plan out your day in the morning.
- Be clear with yourself about your top priorities and focus on the ones that are going to bring in business.
- Initially, focus on marketing your business, don’t spend all of your time on administration.
- Keep reassessing your goals and don’t let things get away from you.
- Get help. Don’t do it all yourself.
- Have a social support network made up of friends, family and other business owners.
- Don’t sacrifice relationships for your business.
- Get up early and go for a walk.
- Eat properly and not at your desk.
- Drink lots of water.
“You have to live like a normal person,” Moscoe said.
Just as important as carving out time for yourself is finding ways to manage your business that will result in less stress.
“Without organization and good management, the compressed time schedules associated with modern business can cause stress and make extraordinary demands on people,” according to research done by the Small Business Administration. An effective management structure can reduce stress and channel the productive capacity of employees into business growth and profits.”
Finding employees who can share your responsibilities will go a long way to reducing your stress, too.
“The heroic single leader is no longer congruent with the burdening demands of today’s leadership,” said J. Richard Hackman, professor of social and organizational psychology at Harvard University, in a recent study on shared leadership.
“The most important conditions for effective shared team leadership include a team that is a mature and reasonably bounded group,” Hackman said. “They must know each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to identify who to go to for specific tasks. The second condition is being interdependent on one another for some specific shared purpose or goal.”
Moscoe also believes it’s important to keep your focus on why you started your business in the first place.
“It’s the hardest job in world,” Moscoe said. “But you if you’re in your own business, you’ll feel you have control over how you’re going to do it and that’s the biggest factor in reducing stress.”