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Nine Stress Management Tips for Small Business Owners

Apr 15, 2008
There's no doubt about it - operating a small business can be stressful. This may be troubling since so many entrepreneurs start their businesses to get away from the stress of working for someone else. Because of this, you may not be prepared for the stress, and that just makes it worse.

Why is it so stressful to start and operate a small business?

There can be many reasons.

If you are working your small business part-time while you are still working your regular job full-time, you are really working two jobs. The pressure of trying to do a good job at work, get your own business off to a solid start, and maintain your relationships with family and friends can be overwhelming.

If you have transitioned to running your business full time, there are ongoing pressures related to sales, cash flow, time management, and simply getting everything done.

If you have employees, the added issues related to managing employees contribute even more stress to your life.

Fortunately, small businesses have been around a long time, and the many entrepreneurs who have come before you know dozens of ways you can keep the stress level down and your work quality up.

Here are a few:

1. Keep your priorities straight. When you are excited about building or running your business, it's very easy to get caught up in work and forget about what is really important in your life - family, friends, faith (you determine the order of importance). The better you keep your priorities in order, the more easily you'll be able to manage the stress associated with your business. Yes, it's that simple. Take some time right now to think about what is really important to you. Reorganize your schedule to reflect your commitment to those things at the top of the list.

2. Get plenty of sleep. Many small business owners will start early and work late, then try to have a family life before falling into bed for four hours or so and doing it all again. This is ultimately counterproductive. A tired entrepreneur is less smart, less effective, less quick on his feet, and less creative. Get more sleep, and you'll find you actually get more done. Sleep is also vital to your health. Be very careful before you skimp too much in this area.

3. Learn time management skills. There are many books and websites that can help you develop excellent time management skills. You can start managing your time effectively by simply making lists every day, and keeping a time diary noting everything you do in a week and how long it takes. Go over this diary and find the things you can eliminate. Then eliminate them from your daily life one at a time.

4. Learn to delegate. Entrepreneurs are do-it-yourself people. However, you need to accept that you can't do everything for yourself. Find vendors or subcontractors who can help with some tasks at a reasonable cost. If you have the resources to hire an assistant or other employees, delegate tasks to them. Spot-check what they're doing if you must, but let go of a little of that control. Delegating authority is one of the most important executive skills, and you need to learn that anyway.

5. Start your day right. Start your day with some personal reflection or inspirational reading, not checking email. Then, prioritize your tasks for the day and address critical issues. Spend about 30 minutes each day centering yourself and preparing for your day. While it may seem like a waste of time at first, you'll find that not only are you more productive and focused, but you will be better equipped to handle the stress that appears in your life.

6. Focus on the positive and what you have accomplished. If you do nothing but focus on what you don't have and how much you have not accomplished, your stress level will rise dramatically. Be positive. There is some truth to the statement, "What you think about, you bring about," so keep your mind focused on positive things.

7. Don't neglect your physical health. Stay physically active. Get regular check-ups. Eat right. Not only does exercise relieve stress, but if you get so run down that your health suffers and you can't work, you will experience even more stress.

8. Take some time off. All work and no play is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs typically take pride in how hard working they are, so taking time off is often viewed as a weakness, rather than a positive thing. The truth is that the more tired and stressed you become, the less productive you are, no matter how many hours you "work."

9. Finally, look for the joy and sense of accomplishment in your business. If you find that your business is only bringing you heartache and no satisfaction, it's time to change businesses. If you can't make an immediate change, start making a plan for a change. Simply making a plan and taking some action to get started with implementing that plan will make a big difference in helping to decrease your stress level.

Even though operating a small business is a lot of work, it doesn't have be excessively stressful.
About the Author
Veronica Robbins is a successful entrepreneur who has started and operated several successful businesses. She now shares her success by helping others start their own businesses. Read the many tips she has for new business owners at www.your-small-business-guide.com.
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