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How To Deal With The Stress Of Running A Business When Work And Life Are Integrated

How to deal with the stress of running a business when work and life are integrated

The way we view work has shifted over the last decade

The role work plays in our lives continues to evolve. 

Somewhere around the early 80’s, the world began it’s search for the elusive work-life balance. We’ve since been on a mission to crack the code and find a harmonic equilibrium between home and workplace, family and career, passion and profession, all in the pursuit of a happy and fulfilled life. 

There’s just one little problem with the work-life balance. It implies that work does not sit under the great umbrella of life, that work and life are two separate entities either end of a scale. If one becomes more weighted and tips, the other is hopelessly compromised. 

The new generations who are entering the workforce aren’t looking for work-life balance. They’re not willing to juggle. Work life balance is being replaced by work-life integration – an understanding that work, family, health, passion and community all sit under the umbrella and all contribute to a fulfilled life. 

If everything is integrated (if work is life, and life is work), how do business owners tackle the inevitable stresses that come with running a business, and ensure it doesn’t creep into all areas of their lives?

Business Owners are more vulnerable to stress

Last year, Xero surveyed 500 small business owners and found that 83% had experienced stress in the past six months. Almost half admitted they had been more stressed than usual, a quarter categorised themselves as ‘highly stressed’. 

For many, these survey results won’t be shocking. Running a business is hard work, especially running a small business in the pursuit of growth, as you’re often the person spinning all the plates and making sure none drop. 

We all have our stress causes, and our own coping mechanisms. But we do hear many of the same recurring issues when we take on new clients. Small business owners will have very similar experiences.

Targeting the 4 key catalysts of business owner stress

Financial worries 

It’s very unusual for us to meet entrepreneurs who started out with a bank of financial knowledge, or a love for complex tax rules. What many don’t understand is that the knowledge of how to run a financially healthy business can come from your accountant. A good accountant is an educator, not just a fixer. 

We know that when it comes to financial stress, cash flow is usually the sickness and the cure. Without cash, your business is in trouble, even if it appears to be profitable. We wrote a blog all about how to control your cash flow – read it here.

That being said, running a tighter ship – one where you have access to accurate financial data, streamlined expenses, and you’re able to collect payments in a timely fashion – can have an incredible impact on both your cash flow and growth prospects. Which brings us to the second most common stress cause…

Lack of control and uncertainty

Nothing is more stressful in business than being hit with a problem you didn’t see coming, and weren’t prepared for – which is why it’s so important to be a financially forward thinking business owner. 

You can’t prepare for a staff member to get sick, or a supplier to raise their costs – those things are out of your control. Your business, however, is within your control. If you’re regularly updated on your key numbers, you’re able to budget for the year ahead and create a contingency plan for any surprises that may rear their heads. 

Workload overload

Although it’s inevitable that you’ll need to take on staff as you grow, you probably didn’t start your business because you wanted to become a boss. When the business relies on only you, you’re the master, the apprentice, the strategist, the admin person, the marketing team and the coffee maker. As you take on employees and begin to fill those roles, you need to take slow steps out of the day to day running  of your business and use your time to work on the business itself. 

You must delegate, whether that be to employees or outsourced third parties. If you’re the only capable person in the business, then you’ll always be the bottleneck, and growth will stagnate. There may be some things that can only be done by you, and that’s okay. Create a set of processes and systems that outline how roles are performed and delegate anything (and everything) that can be done by someone else. 

Employing staff 

Delegating is crucial to relieving some stress, but employing staff can come with its own hassles and hurdles, especially if you’re rushing to find someone to fill a gap in the business. When you’re having issues with staff, instead of playing the blame game, ask yourself:

  • Is this person the right person for the business? 
  • If so, are they in the right role?

If you haven’t already read Traction by Gino Wickman, we highly recommend getting a copy. The book is all about getting the right people in the right seats in your business. It provides practical tips and exercises to help you create the right structure to move your organisation forward.

Practice self care when stress does pop up

We’re not going to be by your side for every heart dropping moment, hectic day or stressful week. We all have our own methods of calming and grounding ourselves, but there are some universal tips that can help you to practice a bit of self care when things are tense:

  • Get outside – Most of us know how important exercise is for feeling good in mind and body, but we don’t always feel like we have the time to get to a gym or a class. Just taking a walk outside in nature gets the body moving and can do wonders for stress. 
  • Catch some well needed zzz’s – Sleep deprivation can cause us to become more irritable and vulnerable to stress. Try and get the recommended 8 hours so you’re not always playing catch up.
  • Have a switch-off policy at home – Our digital world can make us feel like everything is urgent and immediate even when it isn’t. Get into the practice of switching off all notifications when you walk through the door. 

For everything else, you know where we are

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