Becoming a small business owner was your dream. But now that your dream has come true, you feel the stress of being a business owner — and maybe even burnout. If you’re feeling business stress, you’re not alone. In the past month, 42 percent of small business owners reported that they had experienced burnout, and 24 percent said they are currently experiencing burnout.
Stress and burnout are normal for business owners. After all, you’re responsible for the success of your business. That comes with a lot of decision-making, working closely on your product or service — and managing employees, projects, sales, and more. And the economic uncertainty in today’s market, along with whatever is going on in your personal life, can build on that stress.
The good news? You have the power to relieve some of that stress and manage symptoms of burnout. Luckily, various strategies can help you feel more harmonious — and less anxious — in no time. So, take a deep breath. Let’s go through some of the most effective strategies for reducing business owner stress.
If you practice these methods regularly, you’ll start feeling (and seeing) a substantial positive impact on your personal life and your business.
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How to Reduce Business Stress
1. List it Out
Has anyone ever told you to “write it out” when stressed? While this advice doesn’t always feel helpful in the moment, science proves it’s actually a conductive way to relieve stress. According to Psychology Today, writing things down eases not only stress and anxiety but also prompts creativity. Why? When you write your worries or thoughts, you free them from your mind. And once you’ve written them down on paper (or on the computer), you can make a focused plan.
Taking inventory is the first step to getting your stress under control. Get a pen and a piece of paper, or open a new document and get keyboard-ready. What’s currently bothering or weighing on you? What are some everyday stressors you experience?
Spend a few minutes with your thoughts and try to list all of your main stressors. As Psychology Today says, “lists provide inner solace.” And who doesn’t want more inner solace, especially as a business owner? Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can strategize how to release and relieve them.
As for the creativity component, consider adding decorative bullets or images to your lists. Marrying a little creativity with your list-making can make the task more fun, boost your productivity, and help spark innovation.
Now that you’re a list master, you can take your list-making one step further. If you have tasks on your list, take some time to prioritize these tasks. This is the ultimate step in business stress management. By weighing the importance of each task, you can strategize which tasks need to be handled first or focused on the most. You can also add dates and “next steps” for each task. But remember: If you try to do everything all at once, you’ll be more susceptible to burnout. To avoid burnout, break down your task list into manageable pieces (like three items a day) and focus on completing those tasks first.
If your list has a lot of worries or fears that aren’t necessarily task-related, you can brainstorm some actionable ways to tackle that worry or fear. For example, let’s say you’re worried about rising costs. (Let’s be real. Who isn’t worried about that in today’s economy?) How can you help ease your anxiety around rising costs? Can you adjust some of the prices for your products or services to counteract the impact of inflation — or offer online products or services to strengthen your income flow? By taking a step back from your worries and making a game plan, you can control your stressors — and business — more successfully.
Looking to recession-proof your business? See our top 5 Tried and True Strategies for a Recession Proof Business.
2. Stop and Take a Well-Deserved Break
Have you ever spun your wheels trying to get too much done that you couldn’t get anything done? It’s a common problem for business owners. You may be thinking about your sales pipeline feeling a bit empty, your employee who gave notice, your cash flow for the month… the list goes on.
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by everything, stop — and take a moment to breathe. You deserve a break. How you spend your break is up to you, but walking in the woods or around your neighborhood is always mind-clearing. A few minutes of listening to a favorite song or podcast can also help ease anxiety or stress.
Whatever activity you choose, pick something you personally enjoy and do it now. Then, find time to keep taking breaks in your schedule. Pick 15 minutes each morning to do something enjoyable. Savor your cup of coffee or read an article or two. You can even schedule the breaks into your calendar, so you know they’re a priority — and you don’t find a way to skip them.
3. Get Moving
There’s a reason why so many successful entrepreneurs and business owners vouch for daily walks or regular exercise. Jack Dorsey, entrepreneur and former CEO of Twitter, says walking to work every day was the “best investment” he’s ever made.
“It’s a very clearing time,” Dorsey said. “I want to put as much unexpected potential in front of me because I think something that you don’t plan will always make you think differently.”
Research shows that walking daily for 30 minutes can positively impact your physical and mental health. Walking has been proven to relieve stress, boost your immune system, and even reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. And a daily walking routine can improve your creativity, mental clarity, and overall mood. You can try taking three 10-minute walks throughout your day — and see if you feel more energized.
While some prefer walking, others prefer yoga, pilates, playing basketball, or hitting the gym. The idea is to get moving to combat all types of stress. When you move, you release endorphins — which help relieve stress. As you may know, stress can also take a toll on your immune system, so keep stress at bay with physical activity that helps with your overall feelings of wellness. Of course, always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen to ensure it’s right for you.
Other billionaire entrepreneurs, including Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Mark Cuban, agree that exercise is key to success. Branson prefers to exercise by going on runs, biking, and kite surfing.
“I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” Branson writes on his blog.
What makes a small business owner successful? See our 7 Characteristics of Successful Business Owners.
4. Focus on Your (Mental) Health
It’s no surprise. Your mental health is critical to feeling — and performing — your best. Poor mental health can harm all aspects of your life, including your business. That’s why taking care of yourself is essential, even if it doesn’t always feel like a priority when in the business hustle! While exercise can boost your mental health, here are several more tips for improving your mental health:
- Stay positive. Focus your energy on what’s going well in your business instead of focusing on what’s not working. Having a more positive mindset can help you stay grounded. But remember, “staying positive” doesn’t mean avoiding or disregarding negative emotions. It’s about finding a balance between negative and positive emotions so the negative ones don’t take over.
- Practice gratitude. Even on your worst days, you have things to be grateful for. To start, you’re a business owner! Take some time regularly reflect on the good. In fact, studies have shown that practicing gratitude positively impacts your brain and business.
- Connect with others. As humans, we’re social creatures — even if we lean on the introverted side. It’s essential for us to feel connected and have strong relationships by nature. So, take some time to talk and grab a coffee with your coworkers or friends. You can also find a community to participate in, like a small business association, book club, or volunteer service.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. There are many types of meditation and mindfulness exercises, so you’re bound to find at least one that works for you! Some even consider meditation essential for every entrepreneur.
If you need more support, consider seeking a therapist or an online therapy solution. Many therapists even specialize in counseling for business owners or entrepreneurs, helping you run your small business with more ease.
5. Declutter or Revamp Your Workstation
Have you ever looked around your office or business and felt stressed just by the mess? You may see cups of old pens, piles of paper and sticky notes, or old coffee mugs making marks on your desk. Whether consciously aware of it or not, our environment plays a big role in our mental health.
Studies show that a cluttered environment can affect our anxiety and stress levels, sleep, and ability to focus. If you’re overwhelmed, decluttering or revamping your workstation can alleviate that. You can create a more comfortable space — and mindset — for work when you’re more intentional with your workstation.
When you organize and tidy up, you gain some control over an otherwise chaotic day. Looking at clutter won’t make you feel calm and in control; it may do the opposite and make you feel overwhelmed and uninspired. And if your workstation (even when decluttered) makes you feel uninspired, why not change it up?
According to a study, The Impact of Work Environment on Employee Productivity: A Case Study of Business Centers in the University of Benin Complex, a “quality” workspace can boost your energy. Work environment factors, such as lighting and commotion, can “intensely affect” your spirit, influencing your work quality and productivity. Sometimes, making just a few tweaks around your desk can significantly impact your (and your business’s) well-being.
Not sure if this works for you? Try it and see. You might be surprised how a clean and revitalized space affects your stress levels!
Moving Forward with Calm
Rest assured, business owner stress is common — and you don’t have to try all five tips today either. Instead, you can incorporate one or two of these strategies this week and see how it goes. If these methods aren’t really making a difference, try a couple of others next week! Everyone is different.
If you’re still struggling with stress or anxiety, you can always try the tried-and-true method of taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. Sometimes a simple reset can immediately slow your mind down. You can also reach out to a friend or coworker. You can bet that someone you know is also feeling a bit of stress or anxiety in their work life — especially in the business world. And knowing you’re not alone can help.
All the best on your stress-less small business, and be well!
Less Business Stress with Guidant
If you’re here, you might have too much on your plate. Being a business owner is stressful, especially if you try to do everything yourself.
At Guidant Financial, we aim to empower small business owners like you. With our affordable suite of business services — and our team of small business experts dedicated to you — you can run a more stress-free business. From payroll services to accounting and tax services, Guidant has your back. You’ll save time and money, so you can get back to enjoying what you love about your business.
Nobody starts a business to do paperwork. Let our team of financial experts help. With our suite of business services, you’ll reduce your business stress in no time.