Five ways to manage stress as a business owner

Are you pioneering a startup or purchasing a budding company? Prepare for many years of intricate taxes, late nights, hiring, firing and emotional upheavals. That’s alongside lovely customer connections, soaring profits, and increased self-confidence.

If you aren’t excited by the sound of all of that, it’s an ideal time to prepare – because being a business owner is one of the most rewarding opportunities that makes the hard times worth it. Here lie top-tier stress management tips so you become a pro.

1. Rebrand volatility

One of the top stress management tips to get your new status as a business owner under control is to expect the unexpected. Everything as a business owner encapsulates volatility. Overhead or taxes might skyrocket from one month to the next. A product that rarely sells suddenly flies off shelves.

The key to managing stress is to know being a business owner is inevitably chaotic. Manage expectations. Overestimate everything. Therefore, changes should never catch you by so much surprise that it damages success. A stressful reaction is natural, but you can choose every action and response afterward.

Fear is one of the most prominent forces against any company or startup’s growth. Letting every shift in the dynamic overtake you will cause potential setbacks, so see every unexpected email, sale, interaction, or event as an opportunity. You could eventually see it as a fun puzzle to work your way to becoming a more resilient enterprise.

2. Pay attention to your body

Stress feels like it’s all in your head, but it manifests in your body. This requires you to get in tune with yourself. To make matters even more unpredictable, sometimes physical symptoms aren’t consistent and particular stressors can result in unique bodily cues. For example, cybersecurity professionals experience a physical response to excessive notifications, called alert fatigue.

It will take time to get familiar with the mind-body connection, but it means you can calm the mind by taking action to alleviate the symptoms, such as:

  • Upset stomach or gut issues
  • Headache
  • Fatigue or insomnia
  • Cold sweats
  • Tense muscles
  • Shakes and restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fast heart rate

3. Eliminate your stressors

Defend yourself against the most intimidating influences on your happy workflow. You have to ask yourself why you began your startup in the first place. What were your biggest motivators? These touchpoints will guide you in managing your stressors.

After you find your ‘why,’ it’ll be easier to face anything that causes you to doubt your commitment. Is it erratic employee behaviour or social media advertising? No matter what, you must locate the stressors that persist, even in the face of your most potent driving forces. Make a list and start tackling them one by one. For example:

  • Multitasking or feeling you have too much on your plate: Shorten your to-do list to a ‘must-do’ list, rescheduling tasks that don’t need immediate attention
  • Unhappy clients: Start productive conversations and ask what you could have done differently to improve circumstances for future clients
  • Keeping up with regulations: Businesses have lots of record-keeping among permits, compliance, and reporting. Set up a meeting with professionals to develop a strategy for automating or streamlining these systems and reminders so you can complete all deadlines
  • Getting sucked into your online presence: Allow yourself to step back from reading online reviews or responding to comments. It’s essential, but not if your stress is impacting business relationships

4. Set boundaries

It never seems like there are enough hours in the day to run a startup. Instead of saying you don’t have enough time as a business owner, realise you’re just not making the time for what’s important. That means learning to say ‘no’ and setting firm boundaries.

Humans are obsessed with equating task completion with productivity, even if it’s low-value jobs like responding to emails constantly versus sitting down for hours to write internal procedures. Could that email wait until tomorrow, when writing employee policies could happen once and save countless hours of stress years later?

Set clear expectations for communications. Small business owners shouldn’t place a standard on people to respond in less than an hour. Assign reasonable, empathetic expectations that you will attempt to address what’s essential within 24-72 hours.

Many startup owners struggle with ‘clocking out’ because they can always find something to work on or improve. Unplugging mentally and physically is essential for ensuring you don’t become resentful of your livelihood. Here are some actionable ways to start making that happen today:

  • Have separate work and personal devices, like phones
  • Ask family, friends, or employees to be your accountability partners in not working past a particular hour or on weekends
  • Plan non-negotiable leisure or vacation time in your calendar as strictly as your work hours
  • Create a wind-down ritual that transitions your mind to post-work mode

5. Embrace automation and outsourcing

Imposter syndrome plagues most business owners, no matter their education or experience. It’s critical to know many business owners go into the venture with just an idea – learning the rest on the fly.

Whenever you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, never be afraid to ask for help. There’s no reason to do everything by yourself and many things nowadays have an app for that.

Running a business is like raising a baby – it takes a village. Find someone to do your taxes. Get a program that automatically assigns tasks or sends auto-responses to emails. Hire a social media manager to write tweets.

Stress management tips for business owners

A business owner’s life and success will often resemble index funds – there may be some dips over the years, but zooming out proves it’s always on an upward trajectory. Letting stress wash over you is OK, but it should never win your attention. Your wellness comes first, then your business.

Different personalities respond to stress differently, meaning every tip won’t work for everyone. Be willing to experiment with mindfulness and communication to navigate your startup’s waters with intention and control.