Running a small business in these days of economic and political uncertainty can be extremely challenging. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that being a small business owner is a stressful occupation.
In fact, a recent survey indicated that running a small business is the most stress-inducing thing in most business owners’ lives, more than marriage, money, children, or anything else.
Too much stress can lead to fatigue and poor health; it can also cause entrepreneurs to lose focus and passion while running their small business, and hurt their bottom line. It doesn’t have to be this way, however.
Want better ideas? Here are some great tips for reducing your stress levels as a business owner, and maintaining a good work-life balance.
Draw Some Lines
If your professional and personal life are all blended into one giant mess, with no clear delineation where work ends and home life begins, chances are your life is wildly out of balance.
To rectify this situation, take the time to establish clear boundaries in your life. Manage your time effectively, and set parameters each day for when you are going to arrive and leave the office. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, for example, ensures that she leaves the office no later than 5:30 PM each evening, so that she can eat dinner with her family.
Designate specific time periods when you are available for business, and set aside time when you expect your subordinates to take the calls or answer emails, so you can recharge. Similarly, don’t turn your whole home into a workplace.
Designate one room as workspace, like a study if you are fortunate to have one, and limit any work you do at home to that place.
Setting temporal and physical limits like these can help bring a semblance of order to your life, eliminate stress, and help get everything back into balance.
Want better Ideas? Sweat the Little Things (But Get Someone Else to Do Them)
As an entrepreneur, paying attention to detail is critical; you need to have an innate understanding of your company, its cash flow, operations, customers, marketing strategy – in short you are responsible for everything.
But if you try to do everything that has to be done in your company, you are going to burn yourself out and end up out of balance. Beyond the fatigue, you are almost certainly going to miss a key task or meeting if you are overscheduled too, and might even put your business in jeopardy.
If you want to free up some of your time and energy to focus on more critical parts of your business (or just recoup time to restore balance to your life), learn how to trust capable subordinates to accomplish key tasks. As Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson says, If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.” You should also consider outsourcing important tasks, especially those that require a considerable investment of your time.
Due for example, can manage all of your company’s invoicing activities, freeing you up to concentrate on other parts of the business. You can also outsource other important aspects of your business as well; there are numerous freelance sites now that make outsourcing an easy and competitively priced endeavor.
Finally, you should consider leveraging technology to automate important but mundane tasks in your company, leaving more time for you to focus on other things.
Maintain Your Company’s Most Critical Equipment: YOU!
Make the time to rest, heal, and stay healthy. While that sounds cliché, for entrepreneurs it is anything but. A recent survey indicated that most entrepreneurs and small business owners average about 50 hours of work each week, and over 80 percent of those surveyed felt like they worked too much and were fatigued from it.
It is hard to achieve work life balance if you work so much that it makes you sick, you have no time to get routine health and dental checkups and you never see your family. Manage your schedule religiously, so that you are in the audience for big family events, like recitals, soccer games, and graduations.
Make sure you have a doctor, and a dentist, and you see them from time to time for routine checkups. Force yourself to take vacations or time off from work every once and a while, and relax. If you invest in good technology as discussed above, it should be relatively easy for you to get away from work too, since a good Wi-Fi connection can transform your mobile device into an office.
Remember to Embrace Your Lifestyle
When all else fails, and you feel your life is out of balance or you are otherwise experiencing high levels of stress, remember to stop for a second and take stock of who you are.
You are an entrepreneur!
Small business owners are the very foundation of the American Dream. You are your own boss, ad you are making your own destiny. And think about what you aren’t doing: you aren’t punching a timecard, or waiting for a boss to tell you what to do. Keep your situation in context, and remember to embrace and enjoy the perks you have by being your own boss, and controlling your own destiny.
Taking stock of who you are and what you’re doing at times can do a great deal to provide perspective, and that alone help you vanquish some of the stress.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often find themselves overworked, stressed out, and out of balance. While running a company is extremely challenging, you can achieve work life balance if you are willing to put in the effort.
Set clear boundaries between your personal and professional lives so it is clear to you when you cross the threshold from one to the other. Learn to delegate important tasks to trusted agents so you can yourself up to think about the big issues your company is facing. Use mastery of the calendar to ensure you take care of yourself; make sure your doctor, dentist and children never forget who you are.
And finally, remember why you became an entrepreneur in the first place, and embrace the flexibility inherent with being your own boss to pursue a good work-life balance.