Running any kind of business can be stressful, but stress can especially take its vicious toll on the small business owner.
With limited resources at their disposal, it can be harder for a small business owner to make a profit, especially when first starting out in business.
With the threat of other businesses, both big and small, the thought of business failure is never too far from the small business owner's mind.
And because many small business owners work alone, especially when operating online, there is the risk of both social isolation and overwork.
These aren't the only reasons why small business owners experience stress, but they are common factors.
While some stress should always be expected - it would be a lie to suggest we can eliminate it from our lives permanently - we should still take steps to manage the problem before it takes its toll.
You see, if you do let stress overwhelm you, not only will you suffer as your health takes a downward spiral, but your business will suffer too, as you won't have the capacity to perform satisfactorily. In the worst-case scenario, your business might have to close down, as if you become too ill with exhaustion and entrepreneurial burnout, you won't be able to run it anymore.
This sucks, we know, but as this article suggests, burnout has become a reality for many.
So, what can you do about the problem? How can you manage the stress of running your small business? We don't have all of the answers. There will be issues relevant to your situation that we aren't aware of, and that might be specific to you, and not commonly associated with other small business owners.
Still, we can provide some general guidance, with advice that should be adhered to by anybody currently in charge of running a small business. These tips should be helpful to you, so while you will have to take responsibility for your personal stressors, you might still make life easier for yourself if you consider the following.
#1: Find ways to work less during the day
This might seem like an impossibility, especially if you have a busy schedule to deal with, but if you do too much, you are only going to add to your stress levels. Therefore, find ways to reduce your workload.
One way might be to say 'no' more often when you're offered work. Now, while you might not want to let your clients down, you don't want to produce work that is lacking in quality because you haven't had the time to complete it to a sufficient level. By taking on less work, you will be able to spend more time on the projects you need to complete, and this will stand you in good stead with the client who should be pleased with the work you have put in.
You might also get the opportunity to finish work at a decent hour without having to commit to overtime. This is better than ruining your reputation by giving your client something substandard, either because you haven't had time to put the effort in, or because you're so tired with stress that you made some blunderous errors.
Another way to do less is to create a to-do list for your working day. There will invariably be things you need to do as a priority, so put them at the top of your list, and if anything else can be left until another day, then put them at the bottom or put them on a to-do list for another day.
There are loads of task-management apps on the market, so download something onto your phone, or go the old-fashioned route and order your to-do list with pen and paper. By having something in front of you, with each priority task neatly laid out, you will be less prone to distracting yourself with something else that might only eat into your time during the day.
Finally, and perhaps the obvious solution, you can do less by delegating your work to others. If you have the finances to hire people in your business, then do so.
By bringing other people on board, you will a) have people around to ease feelings of social isolation, and b) have people at hand to take on those tasks that you don't have time for, or aren't able to complete in a satisfactory way.
With this in mind, check out these hiring tips for small business owners. Alternatively, consider outsourcing. For those tasks that you struggle with, or for any task that doesn't have to be completed by yourself, look for another firm to manage them for you.
This might be on an occasional basis when you're feeling particularly pressured at work, or it might be on a regular basis if you need help, but you don't want to hire others to work alongside you.
While there will be an expense in both hiring and outsourcing, you might still feel the financial benefits if you are able to improve your business and gain more custom as a direct result of either option.
#2: Use technology to streamline your day
We have already advocated the use of task-management apps, but there are loads of other apps and software tools available to make your life easier. It's worth doing your own research, as there may be certain products that are specific to you, and there are too many examples to note here.
Still, some are particularly noteworthy, such as Sling scheduling, a piece of scheduling software which is especially useful if you do have employees working for you, and HubSpot Marketing, which is a useful marketing solution that helps you increase traffic to your website and improve your ROI.
By doing your research, you will also get a handle on the various pieces of accounting software available to help you, useful for both invoicing and managing your finances, customer support apps to help you improve your customer relations, and as we highlighted recently, sales funnel software, an automated process that is designed to help you create more sales within your business.
Do a Google search today, look for any app or software tool that is appropriate for your needs, and then try before you buy if they offer a free trial or demo to help you ascertain the worthiness of the product.
#3: Take better care of yourself
You need to consider your overall wellbeing, so take steps to improve both your mental and physical health.
This begins by scheduling time out for yourself. If you have followed the other suggestions within this article, this shouldn't be difficult, as hopefully, you will have more time to play with each day. Take a break in the morning and afternoon, and when possible, schedule a day off occasionally to give you time to relax and unwind.
We appreciate a day off might have a knock-on effect to your profits, but as we said earlier, this is better than losing money because you are later too unwell to work.
You should also exercise regularly, as physical activity is a proven factor in reducing stress. Go for a walk during the day, perhaps before and during work hours, and spend time in hobbies that you enjoy outside of work.
You need to eat well too, so eat those foods guaranteed to lower your stress level and up your energy levels during the day. This means avoiding those foods that are only going to make you feel tired and lethargic, such as fatty and sugary foods.
And finally, make sure you get the appropriate amount of sleep. The right amount varies for each individual, but as a rule, 8 hours is usually the norm for decreasing stress levels and ensuring you feel refreshed upon waking.
You will never completely escape stress, but you can relieve the stress you feel if you heed our suggestions in this article. Let us know what you think, and if you have any other ideas that we haven't mentioned, be sure to share your wisdom with us.
Take care, and thanks for reading.