Taking the Stress Out of Entrepreneurship: 9 Ideas

By at 11 November, 2019, 5:18 pm


by Raymond J. Keating-

In the 1978 movie “Animal House,” when Flounder is completely stressing out, Bluto says, “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

While funny, that’s probably not a sound option for entrepreneurs facing stress. And yes, entrepreneurs face plenty of stress.

According to a recent report from SCORE, “One survey from New York Enterprise Report found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. It also found that 33% of small business owners reported working more than 50 hours per week, and 25% said they work more than 60 hours a week… 62% of the people in that study also said the stress of ownership is worse than what they imagined.”

Yikes. Of course, the benefits of small business ownership also were noted: “But despite it all, the vast majority of small business owners say being an SBO puts them in charge of their destiny, gives them freedom, and ‘is more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.’”

So, while enjoying the positives of entrepreneurship, how can business owners get some relief from the negatives of stress? Well, here are assorted options – far from an exhaustive list – to consider.

1.) Time management tools. Small business owners have a lot going on, and finding the right time management tool can be a big plus in getting organized, which in turn will help to reduce stress. So, whether it’s an app for your phone, a traditional planner, or the reliable to-do list (my favorite!), find the right time management tool. It can make a big difference in terms of productivity and stress relief.

2.) Schedule little breaks into your day. The feeling of being overwhelmed can generate a great deal of stress. I’ve learned that personally over the last few years. Therefore, whatever time management tool one uses, make sure you actually schedule a few small breaks into even your busiest days. Just a mere five or ten minutes here and there can serve as wonderful stress reducers and times to recharge.

3.) Find a way to take that vacation. It matters to put aside work for more than just a day or two. A real vacation – where one truly gets away from it all – can reduce stress, allow a person to get re-energized, and lead to increased work engagement and productivity upon return. And yes, that time away with family, for example, will matter in the long run as well for all involved.

4.) Delegate. Entrepreneurs often feel like they must do everything, and that inevitably leads to stress, reduced efficiency, and therefore, more stress. Finding the right people to hire or to work with is crucial for your business, and vital to reducing one’s stress. Yes, the ability to delegate matters.

5.) Exercise. There are good ways and bad ways to deal with stress. I’m an expert in one of the bad ways – when stress ramps up, I eat more. I know that I’m not alone in that. But whatever happens to be your negative way of dealing with stress, work on replacing it with something positive. Exercise is known as a great relief or release of stress. Try replacing the trip to the fridge with time on the exercise bike or a quick walk. Ideally, working an exercise regime into your daily routine helps to fight stress by also feeling and being healthier.

6.) Music. Music has incredible power to alter one’s mood. I cannot tell you how many times I’ll be working and feeling stressed out, but when I put on some music in the background, my mood can change immediately. Indeed, the right play list can reduce stress and get you energized.

7.) Manage expectations. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to stress out if they feel frustrated by not having immediate success. Most businesses, however, don’t simply skyrocket to success. Instead, entrepreneurial success takes time. While entrepreneurs need to set high goals, those goals also need to be realistic and perseverance is a must to make it happen. If one is realistic about what’s needed to reach certain goals, then stressing about such matters can be reduced.

8.) Dealing with failure. Failure is part of the entrepreneurial process. And there’s a great deal of rather glib advice to be had about embracing failure. When those inevitable moments of failure occur, the entrepreneur is going to get hit hard, and stress, likely combined with sadness, might feel overwhelming. The only sound advice is to work on limiting the time you allow yourself to feel the failure – a short bit of grieving time, if you will – and then step back, assess what can be learned by what occurred, make necessary changes, and start moving forward once more. Not easy, but necessary.

9.) Be More Than an Entrepreneur. Many of us tend to identify ourselves with our work. Entrepreneurs probably more so than others. But that doesn’t mean that one’s entire life is about being an entrepreneur … or at least, it shouldn’t. The stress of business can be put in proper perspective when one’s work is put in proper perspective, along with other important parts of life, including family, faith, hobbies, interests, and so. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth noting that the people who keep business in perspective tend to be less stressed. So, yes, build your business, but don’t neglect things in life that are just as or more important.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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