​Top 10 Tips for... How to deal with stress as a small business leader

​Top 10 Tips for... How to deal with stress as a small business leader

Owning and running your own business can be a tough job, especially when it becomes a way of life rather than just something you do 9-5. Small business owners can feel all sorts of pressures, from dealing with colleagues, clients and customers, drumming up new business as well as retaining existing contracts, worrying about finances and staying ahead of the competition. 

This can often lead to lots of stress and anxiety. Looking after your mental health is incredibly important to enable you to run your business well, but to also enjoy it.

Here are our top tips for dealing with stress as a leader in a small businessCLICK TO TWEET

1. Recognise stress

Stress can manifest itself in different ways and cause changes in those experiencing it. You might actually feel you’re doing okay, but your body is telling you something different. There are some signs that you’re feeling stressed and if these are identified early on it can be easier to eliminate the causes. For example, you could be feeling tearful or aggressive, less motivated, negative, depressed or withdrawn. The signs could be more physical, such as an inability to concentrate, confusion and indecision. Or you could see some changes in your normal behaviour, such as not being able to sleep or eat properly. Once you recognise these signs, you can take a step back and look at how you are working, what is going on around you and how you feel about this.

2. Look after your body, as well as your mind

When you’re feeling stressed and anxious, grabbing your running shoes and gym kit can feel like the last thing you want to do. But exercise is essential to keep our minds healthy as well as our bodies. Exercise can release endorphins in your brain which make you feel happier, more confident and able to deal with stressful situations. If you start to feel overwhelmed, why not take a brisk lunchtime walk or go running after work? The time away from your workplace and issues at hand will give you time to think more clearly about how to resolve any stress you’re facing. 

3. Talk about how you feel

A problem shared is often a problem halved. If you’re feeling stressed then sharing your concerns with a colleague or friend can make you feel less anxious. Taking control of your feelings and talking about them isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s the first step in taking charge of your mental health and wellbeing. Although it’s not always easy to describe how you’re feeling and why, it doesn’t mean you need to sit down and have a ‘big conversation.’ Just let the conversation run naturally when you’re ready. 

Related Article: How to avoid stress when running a small business

4. Regain some control

Whilst running your own business may feel like you are in the driving seat, the most significant cause of stress is actually feeling out of control. In a small business there can be many factors causing you frustration, such as decisions made by clients, bad weather stopping deliveries, and prices charged by suppliers. To help with this, first of all recognise that one thing you do have some control over is how you react to these frustrations, and try to manage that. Secondly, identify the factors which can get in the way and plan strategies to put in place when they happen. That way you feel much more capable of dealing with whatever comes your way.

5. Take some time out

As a small business owner, you will be used to grafting hard and working unsociable hours.  Even working 24 hours a day might not be enough to get what you want done. But that doesn’t help when it comes to balancing work pressures and our home lives, particularly as technology now means we are easily accessible around the clock. Working harder and longer doesn’t necessarily mean we are working more effectively and this can soon take its toll on our productivity and health. Consider putting some boundaries in place to help you ensure your job doesn’t lead to stresses at home as well as in the workplace. 

Related Article: Why it's essential you take a summer break

6. Delegate and ask for help

As the leader of any business, it’s hard to admit that you need help juggling the responsibilities you have. You may feel that admitting you’re feeling stressed is a sign of weakness. But admitting you can’t always deal with every job and issue personally and that you need assistance is one way of diminishing your stress levels. Why not ask for extra support from your deputy or other senior colleagues within your firm, or set up a working group to share the responsibilities?

7. Harness stress and turn it into something positive

A small amount of stress can be a good thing because it means the situation is challenging us. And as a small business owner, don’t we all love a challenge?! If you have a stressful day ahead, why not think about how you are going to handle it? Think about what you really want to achieve and what success would feel like. Encourage yourself along the way and don’t forget to reward yourself to help keep your spirits and positivity high. 

8. Learn to say no

If a situation is stressing you out beyond what you normally feel at work, then listen to your gut because it may be your instincts are trying to tell you to rethink the situation.  It may be a sign that you need to reevaluate your relationships with the client or employee to resolve any issues before they become more stressful and distract from your other core business. It may be that you need to say no to a new contract, take on extra support or stop working on something that’s not as successful as you’d hoped it would be.

9. Try to stay positive

When you feel stressed and anxious, looking on the bright side of life can feel incredibly hard.  That’s why peer support is really important to help you stay focused, motivated and less stressed. Being around negative people will only encourage you to focus on what could potentially go wrong, rather than what you could achieve. Team up with people who you know have a positive attitude and the situations stressing you out will start to feel more like an exciting challenge, rather than an impossible mountain to climb. 

10. Celebrate your achievements

Success is the biggest motivator and de-stressor because it makes you feel good. Whether it’s a small achievement or something much bigger, always take the time to celebrate and thank the people around you for helping make it happen. Don’t become complacent – there may still be lots of hard work ahead or things to learn from and do better next time – but remembering the things you’re good at and what has gone well will inspire you moving forward. Looking back at how far you’ve come will also put whatever you’re worried about into perspective and help you feel less anxious about the challenges ahead. 

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cHRysos HR Solutions is a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD accredited qualifications, Apprenticeships, Training and HR Services to SMEs nationwide. For more information about how cHRysos HR can help you or your teams successfully achieve further qualifications, contact us on info@chrysos.org.uk or call +44 (0)1302 802128.