How to master margins and mindset to reduce stress

The Startup & Small Business Success Coach shares how mastering both margins and mindset reduces stress for startup business owners.

Anne Gwilliam is The Startup & Small Business Success Coach focusing on helping entrepreneurs flourish through a dual approach of understanding their margins and mastering their growth mindset, setting new business owners up with firm financial foundations and unshakeable self-belief.

A qualified coach, and qualified accountant, she is a champion for small businesses, blending her accounting background and two decades of experience working with successful businesses from startup to FTSE 100 including Lloyds TSB, with her own learnings from becoming a business owner and her positive psychology coaching qualifications, to provide clarity, conviction, and confidence, when often there is fear and uncertainty.

Bringing lessons and learnings to those just starting out, Anne is passionate about helping business owners to break down the barriers that can lead to failure, so they are instead primed for success from the outset.

Utilising her accounting background Anne is primed to support the 40% of new business owners admitting to having a fear of the ‘numbers’ and she is on a mission to eradicate the ‘head in the sand’ approach many entrepreneurs take when it comes to the financials in the first few years of their business, so she can help avoid the pitfalls and stresses of creating a business that isn’t sustainable, instead setting them up for success from day one.

Having herself experienced mental health issues and illness due to stress, a poor work life balance, and a career that wasn’t fully aligned, Anne is also passionate about helping others to really connect with what matters to them, so they can find their purpose in life using her coaching skills to work through limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome to empower people to follow their dreams.

Anne, who is a big believer in continued personal and professional development is one of just 10 graduates of a new ICF accredited coaching programme, ‘Profound Impact Coaching’, which saw her recently travel to Madeira to spend time with its founder, as part of her own professional development and personal healing.

Here she shares her five steps for reducing stress as a startup.

Anne said: “There is nothing that has a more direct correlation than money and mindset. Your mindset affects your margins, and your margins are your business – get these wrong and stress will follow you around.”

  1. The first thing to face is any negative money stories you are carrying around – these may be from things you heard growing up or as a result of your experiences. If you feel negative about money in any way this can play out to manifest as self-sabotage in your business – so that you procrastinate about invoicing, you undercharge, or you even work for free – all things that lead to stress when you are working hard for little return. To overcome this, focus on understanding where your beliefs come from and if you are valuing yourself enough.
  2. It’s important to realise that in a small business you are your business – looking after yourself means you are looking after your business. Try to ensure that each day you are checking in with yourself and releasing any emotions that are rife – be this through meditation, journalling, running, or just having a good old rant. If you are squashing emotions, you are likely to self-sabotage yourself and feel the pain of stress more.
  3. A key one – not burying your head in the sand. Whilst the numbers can be daunting having a clear understanding of them reduces stress. Stress comes from overwhelm, from uncertainly and from feeling out of control. Having a handle on your numbers helps you remain in charge of your business. Don’t feel like you have to battle this alone. Get some expert help, dig deep so you can understand what part of your business is the most profitable so you can double down on this, and also be aware of your day-to-day cashflow, because without cash your business can’t survive. If things are going well don’t get complacent, and when things aren’t going well, look closely at what’s changed and what you need to adapt. If cash flow is stunted, how can you reduce your overheads and bills, how reactive can you be to put you back in control?
  4. Make sure you have a forecast so there are no scary surprises, and you can see things coming and address them, and adapt your business around them, before it’s too late. This doesn’t have to be complicated spreadsheets – you are just looking to track whether your business is making a profit and if you will have enough cash to pay the bills that will be coming in the following months. Really simply this means looking at how much you are going to sell, and at what price are you selling it for, alongside your costs (don’t forget paying yourself – and the taxman) and when the money is coming in versus going out? Get a handle on this and running the accounting side of your business becomes less stressful. Remember to look at this regularly – this is not a one-off task!
  5. Action is always better than inaction – even if you are scared. It’s better to take action and get it wrong than be frozen by fear and standing still. It’s more stressful if things are happening around you and you’re feeling out of control – if you are taking action you are taking ownership, and learning and progressing, you are moving towards your goals, even if not in a straight line. This applies for both mindset and margins because daily action on both will help to keep your stress in check.