5 Ways To Stay Stress-Free As A Small Business Owner

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the ways that I can improve my business. I’ve dealt with a number of stressful situations this year that had a severe impact on my business and overall wellbeing. It was very humbling and highlighted that I urgently needed to create systems to stress-proof my business. As an entrepreneur that runs everything solo, I didn’t realise how much stress I was experiencing until I felt completely depleted and had no choice but to let myself rest.

Stress, is of course inevitable, but no client, project or business is worth your health or peace of mind.  I unfortunately learned this the hard way. I now realise that despite my best efforts, I still had unhealthy work patterns that were leading me down a toxic path. After several episodes of burnout and A LOT of reflection, I now understand that in order to give my best, I have to feel my best.

In entrepreneurship, there is a toxic notion that in order to ‘make it’ you have to run yourself ragged. ‘Grind Culture’ often promotes this idea that you need to keep working no matter the cost, even if you are struggling, in order to be ‘worthy’ of success.  In an ideal world, our businesses would be unaffected by our personal experiences, and we would be able to operate at peak performance at all times, but that’s not realistic. We aren’t machines, we’re humans with extremely complex lives that are bound to affect our businesses in one way or the other.

I’ve put together a list of 5 tried and tested methods that helped me deal with stress and will help prevent burnout in the future. If you’ve struggled with burn out as a business owner or just want to stress-proof your business, I hope these tips help!

Learn Your Work Style

Many of us who come from traditional jobs carry some of the habits we learned there into our own businesses. For example, you may have worked between the hours of 9am to 5pm in your previous job, and so feel that you have to work the same hours in your business. The truth is, that if something doesn’t work for you, you now have the autonomy to leave it alone. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that you can choose how and when  you work and define what work means to you.

Maybe you can’t take on more than a few clients a month. Perhaps you work better in the evening than during the day. Try to be more aware of when you are most productive and build a routine around that. I can’t stress how important it is to determine your work style as early as possible in your journey! This will help you create your ideal working pattern, helping you stay consistent in the long term.

Follow Your Gut

We’ve all been there. You have a consultation with a potential client and instantly feel that something is off. It might be that the project isn’t a good fit or that the client gives off a certain vibe, but you decide to take them on anyway. A few weeks later, you’re stressed, irritable and frustrated because the client or project was problematic. I can’t stress how many times I made this mistake, especially early on in my journey.  At the time, I felt that I had to take on any project that came my way and even tolerated unreasonable requests from clients because they were paying and I had rent to pay. Yes we all have bills to pay, but taking on a problem client will cause nothing but stress and resentment later on down the line.

If your client is routinely difficult, rude or abusive in any way, you have a right to terminate their contract and keep it moving! It may sound easier said than done, but when you set the standard for what type of client you want, the right clients will come your way. If you get an inkling that the client isn’t a good fit for you or your business, you can and should walk away.

Plan and Prepare

A great way to prevent stress is to get ahead of your tasks. Think about all the things future you would benefit from, and start to implement those into your daily schedule. That might look like setting time aside each week to work on blog posts or email marketing. Whatever you can work on ahead of time, do it. Start by writing a list of your priority tasks and then doing some research to see if there is a way to automate them. If you can, get help by hiring a freelancer for a few hours a week. If you’re just getting started and don’t have any money to invest in hiring someone to help,  scheduling ahead of time will help tremendously.

Create Boundaries

Dealing with people is an essential part of running a business. It’s necessary to establish good relationships with both clients and potential clients. However, having a good relationship with a client shouldn’t come at the expense of your own needs. Many of the clients I’ve dealt with have been wonderful, however I have definitely experienced my fair share of problem clients.  Unfortunately, there are people who will take advantage of a lack of boundaries. If a client feels entitled to your time because they are paying you, undermines or questions your expertise, repeatedly doesn’t pay on time or is just downright unreasonable – you need to establish and reinforce your boundaries.

A good place to start, is to write a list of what you will and won’t tolerate from a client. It’s great to have a list to refer back to if the need arises. There are certain measures I have put in place over the past few years to minimise the likelihood of coming into contact with problem clients.  I constantly refine my client vetting process to make sure that I get to work with the right clients. Although it’s easier said than done, you can definitely learn to establish and maintain your business boundaries. One of the biggest lessons I learned is that not honouring yourself can lead to stress and burnout. It’s important to get ahead in your business, but not at the expense of your health. You should be your number one priority!

Implement Self Care

Self care is SO important to practice as a business owner. And yes, self care can mean taking a bubble bath and drinking tea, but it also looks like saying no more , working set hours and taking weekends off. In the early stages of my business, I often worked 12 hour days to get projects done and even prided myself on working weekends. Thank goodness that now I know better! A business should be part of your life, not your whole life. I’ve learned that you don’t need to neglect your actual life in order to run a successful business. Taking time to enjoy life is just as much a part of entrepreneurship as the grind, after all, isn’t that the point of running a business?

How do you manage stress while managing your business? Let me know in the comments below!

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