How to Alleviate Stress when You’re Running a Small Business

Being an entrepreneur, while exciting, can be incredibly stressful. If you’re losing sleep, have a decreased appetite or feel increasingly demotivated or sad, you may be suffering from stress. If these feelings become more apparent when you dwell on work-related activities or have a particularly tiring week of running your business, this stress is likely to be a result of your work.

The stress of running a business can have a big impact on your mental health, but also on the health of your business. Stress triggers such as too many projects and a high staff turnover can mean that your business doesn’t generate as much revenue as it could do, and can lead to decreased customer satisfaction.

Read on to find out the causes of entrepreneur stress and how to tackle it so to avoid it negatively impacting your business operations.

The Causes of Entrepreneur Stress

Before we can understand how to alleviate the stress of running a business, we need to first understand what causes entrepreneur stress.

The stress and responsibility of managing staff and complying with regulations cause a huge amount of stress on business owners, as does the task of dealing with admin, scheduling and taxation. Often, small business owners feel the weight of multitasking, and common worries include overspending and keeping customers happy.

Managing Staff

Many small business owners find that a huge amount of the stress of running a business stems from needing to manage staff. This includes the stress of employing and training the right people, dealing with high turnover, keeping members of staff happy, and ensuring business productivity is maximised.

Responsibility

In addition to this, managing staff comes with responsibility. Many small business owners experience stress due to the fact that their business is responsible for not just their own livelihoods, but the livelihoods of their employees too. Making mistakes can lead to an overwhelming feeling of failure, and can make business owners reluctant to take risks in the future.

Keeping Customers Happy

In addition to the responsibility of keeping staff members happy, many small business owners feel the stress of having to keep clients and customers happy too. Complaints and negative reviews can be demoralising and take up a large amount of time. Taking on too many clients can lead to increased stress, and often also decreased customer satisfaction as a result.

Multitasking

Due to the nature of running a small business, many entrepreneurs have to multitask. Owning a business means being able to stay on top of all areas of the business, from sales and marketing through to manufacturing or the delivery of a service. This can cause increased stress and anxiety.

Scheduling

With the stress of multitasking comes the stress of scheduling. With so many tasks to get done, business owners can often feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Working long hours and without breaks increases stress levels and negatively impacts a person’s wellbeing.

Admin

In addition to scheduling, there are lots of other admin tasks that can build up and cause a business owner a significant amount of stress. Whether this is to do with employee benefits and pensions, contracts, or audits and assessments, the stress of all of these tasks accumulates over time. In particular, admin related to compliance can cause anxiety.

Taxation

One of the areas of admin known for causing stress is paying taxes. Bookkeeping and completing tax returns are often time-intensive processes.

Managing the Stress of Running a Business

Managing the stress of being an entrepreneur starts with self-awareness. Once you have identified the key triggers for stress, small business owners can use delegation, time-prioritisation, structure, systemisation and boundaries to manage workflow and alleviate stress.

Self-Awareness

The first step is to identify which of the causes of entrepreneur stress are especially triggering for you. This means taking a small step back and dedicating an hour or so in your calendar to working out what is causing you the most pain in the short-term and in the long-term.

For some, it might be the stress of travelling all day for meetings that is a significant factor for them. If this is the case, consider carefully whether you really need to be at all of those meetings, and whether any of them can be done more locally or, even better, online.

For others, the biggest cause of stress might be the feeling of responsibility for staff and the success of the business. If this is the case, then steps can be taken to alter this mindset and ensure a healthier view of the business and your responsibilities as a business owner.

If you’re struggling with the stress of being an entrepreneur, start with identifying the most stressful activities for you, and prioritise eliminating or reducing these.

Delegation

Once you are aware of the biggest causes of stress for you, consider delegating or outsourcing particularly stressful tasks. Delegation and outsourcing are very common ways to reduce stress, but they can be hard for business owners because it can leave them feeling like they aren’t in control. In contrast, giving tasks to other people actually gives you more time to focus on the tasks you enjoy, or to focus on business expansion.

Structure and Time-Prioritisation

Having a regular routine and a structure to your work week can reduce stress significantly because it reduces the uncertainty in day-to-day activities. Difficult items can be dealt with early on and this results in a sense of accomplishment. If you struggle to fit everything in, consider hiring a personal assistant to do this for you.

In order to schedule in work effectively, you also need to be able to prioritise your time. This means prioritising non-work activities, as well as work activities, for a healthy work-life balance.

Systemisation

Scheduling, amongst many other areas of business operations, can be systemised. This can be a very effective way to reduce mundane, time-consuming tasks on your calendar in order to focus on the bigger things. For example, if your clients regularly forget their appointments, build in an automatic reminder feature into your calendar. This won’t add any regular tasks to your to-do list, but will go a long way to ensuring that your time isn’t wasted.

Setting Boundaries

An important part of minimising stress is setting boundaries. This means saying ‘no’ just as much, if not more, than you say ‘yes’. Especially in the early days of running a business, taking on too many clients too quickly can be easy to do but difficult to fix. Too much work can lead to increased stress, longer lead times for customers and potentially decreased customer satisfaction too.

Celebrating Success

Lastly, an important part of alleviating some of the stress of being an entrepreneur is to make sure you celebrate success, no matter how small the achievement may seem!

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