Many small-business owners have what experts call type A personalities. They tend to believe that nobody can get a job done quite as well as they can and, as a result, often impose unduly high expectations on themselves and others. They work when they’re ill, refuse to take vacations, and miss important family events. This approach to running a company, unsurprisingly, leads to a lot of stress. Sound familiar?
Experts say entrepreneurs can better cope with stress by adjusting their attitudes and being willing to make decisions that seem tough in the short-term but make life easier, healthier, and more focused in the long run. Here are five tips for reducing high-level stress and renewing your energy, so you can successfully maintain and grow your small business.
- Take control. Stress occurs when you feel your life and business are out of control. So, first things first: Take operational and financial control. If you don’t already have procedures in place for managing growth, dealing with employees, and tracking inventory, it’s time to set them up. If you do have systems in place, why aren’t you using them? The same goes for your company finances. When faced with cash-flow issues or challenges with accounts receivable and payable, it’s hard to know what to do if you aren’t looking at the issue with clarity or treating your budget plans with seriousness. And you’ll never lessen your stress levels until you do.
- Manage your time. Everyone could use a few more hours in the day, but at what cost? Now matter how deft your multitasking abilities are, you can’t get everything done at the same time. Try to avoid the trap of tackling each problem as it comes through the door and pushing unresolved problems aside. Set a daily schedule and work hard to follow it, setting aside time solely to be spent on specific tasks.
- Prioritize. This can grow naturally out of effective time management. If you enter your office each morning to a desk piled high with unfinished paperwork, it’s no wonder you’re stressed out. What’s important and what’s really important? By developing one realistic, centrally located to-do list and managing your time wisely, you should be able to end your workday with a clean desk (or close to it). This way, you have one less “stress trigger” the next morning.
- Learn to delegate. Accept that you are only one person. Directing others to take care of important tasks may take a little time upfront, but the rewards are ultimately more free time for you and renewed confidence among staff members that they are vital to your enterprise. You’ll likely be surprised by the eagerness with which others take on new responsibilities and by how well they handle them.
- Adjust your attitude. If the pace and volume of work have caused you to forget why you got into the business in the first place, take a few minutes to reflect. What did you start out wanting to accomplish? What drove you and fueled your passion to work so hard? Incorporating the things you really love about your business into your day-to-day schedule can be truly reinvigorating.