Handle the Peaks and Valleys of Business Ownership Anxiety

Author: Christina Galoozis Date: June 07, 2010

If work has you tossing and turning at night, you’re not alone. Small businesses face myriad challenges, from accessing capital to rising health insurance costs to retaining a quality workforce.

Unless you face up to it, the resulting stress could take a toll. To resolve work-related anxiety, address the root—or roots—of the problem:

Take a step back.

Barbara Fuller, founder of Focus on You Now!, a professional and personal coaching service in Somerset, N.J, says, "If you’re in the midst of a stressful period, you’re not thinking—you’re reacting." Even something as simple as taking a walk can help you take a step back and give you a fresh perspective on your situation.

Communicate with employees.

If you’re used to wearing many hats, you may be shouldering too much responsibility. Fuller says entrepreneurs need to learn to ask for help.

Start by being open with employees about the condition of the company. That may mean acknowledging you’re in a slump and letting people know how you plan to get out of it.

Fuller recommends taking employees to lunch and brainstorming with them. That will engage them in solutions and make them feel like an integral part of the company, while releasing some of the pressure on you.

Create a positive work environment.

Not only should you surround yourself with positive people, but create a positive work environment for your whole staff by bringing in treats to celebrate milestones and simply letting people know they’re appreciated. "In a small group, stress in one person is going to infect other people, too," Fuller says.

Ask family for support.

Even in good times small businesses have only a 50% chance of succeeding. Add in tough times and the stress may mount. It may help to let your loved ones know the demands you’re facing.

If you have a spouse, "use that person as a sounding board," says Fuller. "Let that person feel a part of [your work life]." When they’re on board with your work decisions, you’ll feel more support in your private life.

Schedule your downtime.

It can be hard turning off the inner chatter, especially if your office is at home. But that often leads to other problems. “We know that not sleeping causes stress,” says Fuller. “You’re not at your best if you’re not sleeping.”

To unwind, set aside a portion of time every week, no matter how small, to enjoy yourself. When you attend your kid’s soccer game or grab a drink with friends, you’ll return to work feeling rejuvenated and focused. 

Expand your network.

No one understands the stress of running a business more than other business owners, so use networking opportunities to mine for advice from like-minded professionals. Not only is networking a great way to blow off steam, but it could help drum up new business.

Set weekly goals

What are your goals? Maybe you’re trying to do too much, which is causing you to feel overwhelmed. Fuller suggests breaking them down on a weekly basis to create reasonable expectations for yourself without overdoing it.

"If you’ve done these five things this week, call it a week," she says.

Don’t let your stress get the best of you. A few small changes won’t solve all your problems, but they’ll help put you back on solid, angst-free ground.

 Find out more about Stress Management & Work-Life Balance

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