Managing the Stages of Stress for the Entrepeneur

Managing the Stages of Stress for the Entrepeneur

The Stresses of being an Entrepreneur

This time last year when we thought about the stresses of being a business owner/ entrepreneur we thought about grappling with uncertainty, being responsible for every decision made, forecasting cash flow, managing frustrating employees, perpetual workload, lopsided work-life balance, long commutes, oh yes, and BREXIT…remember that?  Wow! What a difference a year makes, well, actually if we were reflecting on the causes of stress as we were packing up to go home on Friday 13th March…. Well, there’s a coincidence “Friday the 13th” we would say Wow what a difference a WEEKEND makes.  It happened that quick.

Now, not only have we still got all of the above issues to deal with, for a lot of entrepreneurs there is the ever-present threat of business closure, sales are in free fall, maybe staff have to be let go, your business, your baby is in crisis and so are you.  Perhaps the only stress you don’t have to deal with right now is the long commutes but this in itself has been replaced by an equally stressful substitute…. ZOOM – Well, there’s a blog or series of blogs for another time!   Or you could be at the other end of the scale, your product or service is very saleable in these strange times and you’ve never been busier, this is a very different type of stress but stress all the same – No thinking time to process, just reacting to each opportunity/issue as it presents itself and then repeating the process as the implications of hasty reactions emerge.

We all respond to crises differently but it’s really important to understand the stages of how to identify and manage ourselves and our businesses as we steer our way through.

Calling it  – We underestimate the power in being “real” and in speaking out about our circumstances.  Not sugar coating or wishfully thinking about how things might turn out.  In the middle of the storm, speak out what the issues are, how you really feel about it, I mean REALLY feel about it – it is a normal reaction to feel overwhelmed even hopeless at times and that’s OK, it’s necessary and functional and allows us to face adversity head-on and in turn move into the next stage.

Being Kind to Yourself – All too often we misjudge the damage stress can wreak in our lives and particularly on our body.  Left unchecked stress can be fatal.  So we need to allow space and time to look after ourselves.  We would never dream of speaking to others the way we speak to ourselves, so it’s really important that we show ourselves compassion – this present crisis is not our fault, it’s a pandemic, we’ve never seen the like of it in modern times, don’t be so hard on yourself.

Allow regular chunks of time in the day to detach from the frenetic activity, there’s an app for everything, and here are some recommendations >>>  Remember regular exercise too, the healing properties of exercise shouldn’t be ignored >>>.   As someone who has been plagued with times of sleeplessness/insomnia, this piece of advice always irritates me but we can’t escape the healing properties of a good night’s sleep – I get it! Much easier said than done but having a good nighttime routine and building restful habits into your evening can go a long way to help you achieve your 7/8 hours of restoration. There are other practices such as mindfulness that can help when sleep escapes us>>>,   And finally, when everything is in chaos it is all too easy to shut down but please don’t ignore your “cheerleaders” those wonderful significant others in our lives that speak words of encouragement, lend an ear or just sit with us – it is vital that we make quality time to be with these people, they really do make all the difference.

Asking for help – This is particularly hard for business leaders or entrepreneurs – you are perceived and perceive yourself as the one who SHOULD have all the answers.    You see asking for support as a sign of weakness.  You know that’s absurd, right?  As humans we are very limited and the best leaders ensure they have access to various people that can help in areas outside of their expertise.  Here’s an earlier article that looks at a common practice of successful big names >>>    We’re in a pandemic, we’re all in unchartered waters.  Please don’t let pride stand in the way of navigating your way out of this crisis.  It’s a time, like never before for collaboration, start having those conversations, seek other people’s perspectives – in short be vulnerable and in time you should be on course for discovering some creative new solutions.

Taking back control –  Lockdowns, social distancing etc have dictated so many areas of our lives, not least our businesses and in certain sectors ordered them to close down completely.  Unthinkable a few months ago.  In building resilience we could do worse than to remember Alcoholics Annonymous’ Serenity Prayer……

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing what you cannot change will give you the headspace to focus on the things that you can.

Is there a new offering or model that would fit well into this strange new world?  Are there new business partnerships or markets that could be worth exploring?  How much have you tapped into your employees to find new ideas?  Explore, explore, explore – you literally can’t afford not to.

Learning Lessons – A few years ago I used to facilitate a group on a restorative justice course at the local men’s prison- towards the end of this 6 week course we would ask the men “What are the benefits of being in prison?”  You would think there’s not that many.  Well the conversation would always start slowly but as they really started to reflect, they realised the things that were important to them – letters from loved ones, visits, taking time to rebuild relationships, understanding that having the latest designer brands was not important at all, a simpler life, time for education and to read and let’s not forget free board and lodgings to name but a few.  Just like these men who found themselves in prison, the pandemic completely took the rug from under us, stripped things back but it has given us food for thought.  So I’ll ask you “What are the benefits of Covid 19 to you both personally and professionally?”  As we enter into this new world what have you learnt and how will you apply it to yourself and your business?  At the end of this year could we look back at 2020 with gratitude that it caused us to appreciate what was really important and change the way we do life, we do business?  I’d genuinely love to hear what this year has taught you and of course if you’d like to discuss any of the above then please do get in touch.