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6 Stress Management Tips for Small Business Owners


17.09.2021 Wellness and Productivity

6 Stress Management Tips for Small Business Owners

The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt right across the small business community

Owning and running a small business is a fulfilling role, yet it comes with its stresses. Paying the bills, planning projects, and managing staff — then having to quickly pivot when a lockdown is announced — can lead to you burning out.  

In 2020, four out of five Australians faced burnout. Although the numbers for 2021 are yet to be determined, it’s reasonable to assume the trend will continue. According to the Treasury, 34% of small business owners (one in three respondents) recently reported a medical diagnosis of either stress, anxiety or depression over a 12 month period. 

To help you manage your stress, here are some tips that will assist you through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

1. Focus on the positive

As humans we are predisposed to looking at the negative; it’s easy for the focus to become what isn’t going as planned rather than what is. Unexpected costs, running behind schedule or money woes can all cause severe stress. 

However, changing your mindset — whilst challenging — can lead to a reduction in your stress levels. You’ve probably achieved more than you realise. Listing out your achievements and any milestones you’ve reached can help put things into perspective; even the smallest of accomplishments is a win. 

To help motivation, place your list somewhere visible and when those doubts start creeping back, look at the list and refocus on what has gone right. 

2. Cut unnecessary tasks

Taking on too much can add an enormous weight on one’s shoulders.  However, as a business owner, the need to oversee every part of your business’s operations can stretch you thin. Cutting out tasks that don’t need your constant supervision or aren’t necessary for driving profit will free up time and let you focus on other areas that require your attention. 

The best way to stay on course is to write up a business plan. Business plans are a great way to make sure you are accountable, on track, and ensure that your business’s funding is being spent where it should. Revisiting your business plan when you feel you may be going off course will help identify priorities, redefine your tasks and cut out any that don’t sit within the business’s blueprint. 

3. Delegate where possible

As an entrepreneur, your passion for your business can mean you end up doing it all. Yet, having too much to do can lead to getting nothing done. This is a huge stress trap for many small business owners who need to use their time wisely. 

Planning out your day or week in advance is crucial to healthy time management.  Prioritise the tasks that need to be done, and delegate the others that you can’t fit into your schedule. Delegating tasks to employees, outsourcing to freelancers or other professionals, can relieve the pressure and free up time for other tasks and future planning. 

If you can’t delegate to someone, see if there are tech solutions that can assist you with streamlining tasks such as invoicing and payroll, or even staff rosters and marketing There is an abundance of apps designed to free up your time — but choose wisely, because if you find them too difficult to use, you may add to your stress.

4. Have a lockdown plan in place

It’s a strange world we currently live in, with governments plunging states into lockdowns with a moment’s notice. Having a lockdown plan is extremely important for small business owners to manage how they respond to such situations and reduce the stress incurred. They are your backup plan when regular business is disrupted.

The purpose of the plan is to:

  • come back to business safely once lockdowns are lifted
  • have proper COVID-19 safe cleaning procedures
  • determine how business will operate in lockdown. For example, if you are a restaurant, will you switch to takeaway or delivery services? What staffing will you need?

5. Manage your cash flow and get financial assistance

COVID-19 has thrown a real spanner in the works when it comes to running a business. With banks tightening their lending services and fewer resources to draw on, small business owners have cited financial distress as being the biggest stress factor for them. 

According to a study by Bankwest Curtain Economics Centre, delayed payments have caused additional stress on small business owners. Businesses that had experienced late payments of more than 30 days had increased stress levels 11% higher compared to those who received on-time payments. 

Speaking to professionals such as The National Debt Helpline and Financial Counselling Australia can help you navigate through your financial woes. These services provide free and confidential support and information, as well as strategies and guidance to assist you with any financial difficulties you are experiencing. Additionally, you may also want to speak to your business advisor or accountant and explore other avenues of support. 

6. Managing your mental health

Whilst there is still a perceived stigma associated with mental health, it is more common than you may think amongst business owners. According to the Treasury, 48% of small business owners — that’s almost one in two – believed they would be treated poorly if they mentioned that they suffered from a form of mental illness such as anxiety, stress or depression. 

Mental illness is more common than you may think, so remember, you’re not alone.  There are several ways to look after your mental health and get the right help to manage your worries.

Talking to a friend, family member, your GP or health professional is a good starting point in helping you navigate how you are feeling and what’s causing your stress. Tools such as a mental health plan can also alleviate some of your worries by identifying the causes of your stress and potential future stressors by putting strategies into place to help manage them. 

There are also several services and resources that are available to assist you including: 

These are difficult times for many, but with a little planning there is light at the end of the tunnel. Managing how you deal with the stress that comes with running your small business — whether pandemic-related or just the day-to-day ins and outs — all comes down to planning, prioritising, and making sure you don’t overload yourself with unnecessary tasks. 

For more on how to manage stress and information on scaling up your business, visit our blog

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