Small business stress is a major concern for female entrepreneurs, and according to a recent Mental Health UK report, 86% of female small business owners reported experiencing poor mental health at least a few times a year.
That is a signifcant figure. And worrying.
Sometimes when we decide to launch a small business in the online space, we do so with enthusiasm and passion, and don’t necessarily recognise the amount of time or the level of challenge small businesses face in the journey to success.
If we throw ourselves into our small businesses without the right tools to take care of our mental and physical health as we navigate the hard and harsh reality of growing a great business, we can be left burnt out, unable to cope, with high stress levels that impact us significantly over the long run.
If you feel that part of the reason you become stressed in your small business is because you have low confidence or low self-esteem, check out this blog post where I share 25 tips to help you build confidence as a small business owner.
Many small businesses feel more stressed when their businesses are lacking in sales. Don’t worry, I have you covered with this blog post where I share 15 proven ways to make more money in your small business.
Over the four years that I’ve been at the helm of Female Entrepreneur School, I’ve very sadly seen many female entrepreneurs walk away from their small businesses, because they were putting in the hard work and long hours but ignoring their own self care.
Many of those small business owners started to suffer mental health problems, as a result of not having best practices in place to take care of themselves effectively as they grew their own business.
Don’t let this be you.
Come to your small business with the best tools you can find to prioritize your own health and wellbeing.
Set aside enough time every week in your small business to make space for you.
Your to-do list will never be as important as you and your physical and mental health, so having great strategy to help put you first really is the best way to start and grow a wildly successful online business.
Without doubt the number one thing that has kept me sane, productive, happy, healthy and in control of the growth of my own small business has been making sure I take care of me first.
This has made a huge difference in my ability to be able to stay in my business and be incredibly productive, without impacting my health and wellbeing. I’ve been able to grow my small business to profitability on my own over the space of four years, and still feel well, strong and happy in the process.
As I move forwards and continue to grow my business, every move I plan is tempered with the question ‘how does this impact me?’
Below I share 9 essential tips to manage small business stress. These are the real time strategies I use in my own business, and each is a great way to help make sure I stay happy, healthy and at my best in my daily business life.
I hope they will help you too.
1. Prioritize Self-Care
I cannot emphasise this strongly enough. Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your daily routine.
This includes exercise, meditation, getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods. It also means being mindful of your stress levels, being aware of whether you’re working too many long hours, and putting in too much hard work to the point that it’s impacting you negatively.
A healthy you is essential for a successful business, and it should be the starting point of your schedule every single week.
So use a planner, scheduler, google calendar, journal, wipe board or any other means you prefer, and prior to the start of the week make sure you set aside space for you.
That space can be for meditation, movement, a few moments where you pause to sit and take a couple of calming deep breaths. You can plan the healthy food you’ll eat each day of the week, what time you’ll go to bed to get a good night’s sleep, what time you’ll remove all tech so you’re not sat looking at screens late into the night.
It’s essential to remember that without you – your business will not exist. I’ve seen female entrepreneurs with a huge online presence and those with a small online presence have to disappear from their businesses for 6 months, or worse, altogether, because they put their business priorities before themselves.
The harder you can commit to working on your self-care, the greater the gains will be for you personally, and the good news is that your level of self-care will directly reflect in your ability to grow a super successful work from home small business.
2. Set Boundaries
An important thing to do daily is to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, especially when working from home.
If you’re a solopreneur and you don’t have the benefit of a small team to help carry the weight of your business, girl – it’s all on you.
It’s for you to set boundaries both for yourself, for your customers/clients, and for family and friends.
Boundaries are a great tool. They help make sure you run your business in a healthy way, but they also enable you to make others aware of the boundaries you run your small business within.
Boundaries mean everyone knows their place, and you get to protect you and your business. Your boundaries may include the specific times you’re not to be disturbed because you’re working on your business, the specific times you set aside for family, and are therefore not to be disturbed by anything to do with business, and the specific times you want just for you and your self care.
Boundaries can help you manage personal stress, keeping levels low, and the best part is that popular opinion or not, humans work better with boundaries in their lives.
3. Time Blocking
Time-blocking techniques can be a great tool to help you allocate specific time slots to specific tasks in your business, ensuring you’re not over committing yourself to work, and that you’re not spending too much time on activities that can negatively impact stress (scrolling social media for example, or spending too much time checking out the competition and feeling negative comparisonitis).
Every week in your small business you should have a schedule for work,and that schedule should have time blocked specific tasks – dealing with the biggest priorities first, rather than trying to fit everything in.
Time blocking is one of those essential tools that can bring calm to the chaos in your small business, and each week I sit with my own schedule to plan my week of work ahead.
I leave space on my schedule for self-care (see 1. above), and I keep my mind on the priorities in my small business – and those priorities go on the schedule first.
When you stick to your schedule as closely as possible, you’ll feel more in control of your business, and you’ll avoid showing up and winging it – which in itself can be hugely stressful and lead to burn out, because winging it does not lead to success.
4. Delegate and Outsource
We can’t all afford to delegate and outsource in our work from home small businesses. But when your success reaches a certain stage, you should start to consider getting help.
It’s important to recognize that you can’t do everything on your own in your small business all the time.
The more successful you become, the more your business grows, the greater the level of work will be.
It’s a good business decision to consider delegating tasks that can be handled by others, to free up some of your time, and remove you from the general business administrative tasks that can be undertaken fairly easily by suitable support, so that you can continue to grow you business and have your focus on the important business priorities, rather than trying to carry the full load.
5. Digital Detox
There was a time I worked on my business seven days a week. I felt guilty if I took a day away from my social media presence.
I learnt over time that trying to be visible 7 days a week took its toll.
Not only that, family relationships can suffer greatly if all they see is you stuck to your tech tools day after day, grinding out the work. It doesn’t have to be that way.
You can grow a hugely successful online business and still take regular breaks from screens, digital devices, and from your business altogether.
There should be a point at which you close the doors on your small business every day. There should be days in the week where your focus is on you, family, free time, fun time, and you operating your business stops.
You can use social media automation tools, you can build passive income streams, you can have others manage your business admin for you for a few hours here and there, and a few days here and there too, to enable you to have a life as well as a business.
At the end of the day you’re probably growing your business to give you and your family a better life. That better life will not happen if you’re stuck to your business 24/7.
Schedule time away, have a digital detox. Your social media will not crash if you don’t post for a few days here and there.
6. Stress-Reduction Techniques
Incorporate stress-reduction techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, or yoga.
There are thousands of apps you can use to help you create some routine around managing stress, many that allow you to start with a free version, and they can be great stress management tools you have at your fingertips.
I use Asana Rebel – I like the combination of yoga, meditation, sleep tips, nutrition and other exercises inside the app. It’s a handy tool right there on my smart phone that I can tap into any time I feel the stress levels increase.
Many people love the app Calm, and there are plenty of others you can find in the app store without much work invested in searching. Remember when you’re less stressed in your daily business life, everyone benefits.
7. Networking and Support
Connect with other female entrepreneurs for support and mentorship. Online communities and local business groups can provide valuable insights and a sense of belonging.
I know that the ladies who are inside my Unstoppable Club membership stay there more for the support they get from each other and from me as their coach, than they do for the training tips provided.
In fact one of the best small business tools you can invest in as a female business owner is getting a good business coach who can help support you, steady your way, help you find best strategy for your small business that keeps stress low.
In the long run a good business coach will help you scale your small business to success in a manner that helps you cope and not burn out.
8. Goal Setting and Planning
Effective goal setting and planning for your small business is like having a best friend by your side.
When you set clear, achievable business goals and create a strategic plan for your future and your growth, it will help you stay focused and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by uncertainty.
Winging it in any business will never bring success. In fact winging it is a common trait that leads to high levels of stress, because you don’t feel in control of your daily business life or the destination you’re taking it.
Winging it will mean a business that doesn’t make much money, and you a business owner who feels overwhelmed by the lack of success, trying to fit all your tasks in all over the place. It’s not a recipe for growth.
Use a hard copy or digital planner, and start to map out your schedule week by week.
Allow yourself enough time on your schedule to work on tasks without trying to fit so much in that nothing gets done well.
I do this by sitting down once a week and planning out my schedule for the week ahead. I create a to-do list for each day. I time block how long each task will take. I don’t allow myself to become distracted (by social media for example).
This allows me to have a calm and structured approach to my business that enables me to focus on the important tasks, and not drift off scrolling all sorts of people’s social media accounts.
9. Learn to Say No
Boundaries in your small business are important Saying yes to too many things can elevate your stress levels, and in the long run impact your health.
You do not have to be a yes person.
In fact it’s a priority to learn how to say no, and it’s one of the best practices you can adopt to help make sure you are in control of your business, building it in a way that aligns with you and your hours available.
Don’t overcommit to your business personally. Don’t overcommit to other people because you fear saying no.
The important thing to remember is that the more you set boundaries and take care of you, the lower your stress levels will be, and the more you’ll be able to find great productivity and also happiness in your daily business life.
Prioritize tasks and opportunities that align with your business goals, and politely decline those that don’t.
Please remember that stress is not a benefit. It has no value to any small business owners.
It can impact your mental and physical health to the point where you have to step aside or, worse, walk away from building that successful small business you dream about.
When you feel your stress levels are starting to fire, and you’re feeling the impact of that, take a deep breath. Pause, and consider how you can use any of the tips above in that moment to take stress out of the equation, and bring yourself back to balance.
No amount of overworking, putting yourself last, saying yes to everyone, ignoring your mental and physical health, or failing to plan your business efffectively, is going to get you to amazing success in the long run.
Putting yourself first, having boundaries, taking full care of your mental and physical health, planning your business well, and having tools in place to manage your stress, will be the things that will help you build a wildly successful small business, and ensure you reach that point in one piece, with your health, sanity and wellbeing in place.
Find and use the right tools to help you navigate the world of online business in a way that means you not only have strategy to take your small business to success, but you also have strategy to take care of you on that journey.
Your goal is to have a business you’re wildly passionate about, that brings great revenue to your life, and that you get to enjoy that with peace and happiness, not with the burden of stress and overwhelm.
I speak to female small business owners every day who are feeling the punch of growing their own business.
They complain about not enough time, too much hard work, long hours, challenges that are coming at them.
With each of those ladies I always start to help them get back to balance by asking them to become hardcore obsessed with planning their daily business life, and finding tools to help them address the stress and overwhelm they feel.
When they take action with this they not only very quickly start to feel better in themselves, they also start to notice their small businesses are growing more quickly as a result.
9 tips to manage small business stress.
They’re a great first step in your stress management toolbox.
Come back and dip into this blog for a timely reminder any time you’re starting to feel stress levels rise.
As you continue to pursue your small business journey, be mindful to be open to other stress management tips and techniques you come across, so that you can build your own SOS stress system you can turn to any time you need, to help you manage your own health and wellbeing as you navigate the challenge of growing your small business in the online space.
When you’re ready to go deeper, to take your small business to greater success in the online space, to become unstoppable in your small business, maximise your results and limit daily stress, anxiety and struggle, start by choosing one of my free small business guides below (note: you should choose them all – they each have great value packed inside!).