Despite the relative freedom and independence offered by owning a small business, there's also a dark side, familiar to many (but often ignored), associated with working alone or with a few others.
Depression, anxiety, stress, feelings of helplessness, are all symptoms that can be born from being principally responsible for all management aspects of a commercial operation.
“Limited or unrealistic budgets, under resourcing, smaller teams and a management burden that can fall outside of the owner’s original love of their craft, are just some of the multiple issues faced,” says corporate health and wellness consultant Dr Linda Wilson.
“Relying solely on the ‘dream’ will take you so far but too often poor personal planning, naïve expectations and a lack of emotional literacy place owners under extreme emotional pressure,” she explains in an article on the Smallville website.
In the article, Wilson offers several 'tips' on how to construct an “emotional fitness roadmap”, including:
- Be as committed to your emotional fitness as you are to filling orders or chasing leads;
- Create a ‘celebration culture’ by giving the wins more attention than the losses;
- Determine a period of time in which to work and then make sure you switch off; and
- Watch the negative self-talk. Acknowledge it then let it go.
Social media consultant Leanne Hardcastle takes the last point further, warning that “the negative self-talk that goes on in our heads is powerful and can destroy your self-confidence”.
“Some people (however) don’t realise that we actually have power over our own thoughts,” she writes on her blog. “When you notice your negative self-talk, make an effort to force your thoughts back to the positive.”
Hardcastle, who has experienced depression and anxiety since she was “about 16 years old”, also says it's important to “constantly question your reaction to situations and whether it's in proportion to what's happening”.
“Is your reaction (actually) in proportion to what is happening?” she asks. “Oftentimes we catastrophise situations and make things a lot bigger than what it is.”
“Stop for a minute,” she advises. “Look at what’s happening and your reaction. If it’s out of proportion, take a deep breath and deal with the facts.”
Meanwhile, financial services executive Tom Caesar also extols maintaining a suitable work/life balance as the best way to keep your head above dark waters.
“I’ve found that running a business means it doesn’t take much effort to chew through a normal ‘40 hour’ work week, go well beyond and still have important tasks left incomplete,” he says on the Flying Solo website.
“To stop the bleed of work into other important areas of my life, I have to be incredibly honest with my time and brutally prioritise what’s important at work.”
“It’s then up to me to get those jobs done, and then devote enough time to other important areas of life like sleeping, getting exercise, spending time with family and friends, and pursuing hobbies and areas of interest.”
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