The world is filled with stressors. This is in many ways especially true for small business owners, who may feel like they need to be hands-on in every element of their company. You’ve made the business from the ground up, with your own two hands, invested time, money and energy into creating something great. With so much of yourself in the business you’ve created, you might not be able to help but feel that the business’ success is in very real ways a reflection of your success, a reflection of the person you are. Businesses are a part of us and apart from us, so it’s almost as though you have double the stress: your own personal stress, and the stress that comes with carrying the hopes and dreams of your business and all of its stakeholders.
It might help to divide stress into two types; stress about what must be done, and about what should be done. The first type of stress must be tackled; if you want to remain a successful business owner, you must file your taxes, you must pay your employees, you must find a way to get your products or services out to market. These stressors are obligatory, so the only way of relieving the stress is to get things done. The second type of stress is what you feel you should do; you should meditate every day, you should be a more active listener, you should cook at home instead of going out to eat.
For the first type of stress, delegation is key. When you’re stressed out about all the things you must do, it’s likely you need outside help, especially if you’re trying to do it all at the risk of your own health and happiness. You’re the only programmer at an expanding tech company you started? Hire another programmer, or even a team, so you can take time to run the company. You’ve been handling the bookkeeping and taxes on your own? Outsource to an experienced accounting firm who might be able to find write-offs you didn’t even know existed. When you delegate, you free up time to work on the things that must truly be handled by you.
When it comes to the second kind of stress, what you should do, I have some advice. We tend to be incredibly metric-based, especially in the world of small business; what you put in often literally translates to dollars in your pocket, so it’s easy to feel guilty about not doing enough – it impacts your livelihood. For the things you should do, though, try not to be so metric based. So many New Year’s resolutions are about targets that must be met, as though our own lives should be run like businesses, our own happiness should be gamified. You should meditate? Maybe, but don’t be mad at yourself when you don’t; you just didn’t have the time. Instead, be happy when you do, and try to find a little time for yourself every day. You should be a more active listener? Don’t be mad if you slip up; instead, be happy that you realized you weren’t listening actively. You were mindful enough to notice, and next time will be better. You must do what must be done, and there can be guilt for not doing it. For what should be done, though, focus on the positive; it will get you far.