Small business owners have it anything but easy. While it can be incredibly rewarding to paddle your own canoe and build a business on your own terms, it takes a lot of hard work to keep it all afloat and often no-one to share the burden with.

Beat stress

Stress can be a good thing up to a point because the pressure keeps you motivated to push ahead. However, when it’s the rule rather than the exception in your daily life, it can have devastating effects on your business, your personal life and your health.

Did you know that in a recent survey, 1/3 of business owners admitted to completely losing motivation to carry on running their business at least once a year because of stress? Perhaps constant worries about money or staff performance make you short tempered or irritable to deal with? Is your sleep, concentration or memory affected by always being under time pressure? Do you smoke or drink excessively to deal with the never ending demands of work?

If you recognise any of the above, it’s time to take a reality check. If you want your business to succeed and have life worth living, stop crucifying yourself. Instead, learn and apply these 5 vital business survival strategies.

  1. Use time and resource management tools

Time to move on from old school management. You don’t have to do it all in your head, or even in a spreadsheet. Use one of the many software tools available to help you properly organise your workload, project planning, time and resource management.

Planday, for instance, is a workforce planning software designed to make your life easier by taking the aggro out of admin. It’s a SaaS based solution that can be accessed anywhere anytime through the web platform or a smartphone app.

  1. Don’t neglect your basic health

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that if you get ill, your business will suffer. Don’t ever take your health for granted. You are your most valuable business asset, so it makes complete sense to actively protect this asset as best you can.

Whether you like it or not, this does mean paying attention to your diet, getting enough physical exercise and proper sleep. Unhealthy habits are easy to slip into and can be hard to kick. However, making the necessary lifestyle changes to improve your health is not self-indulgence; it’s self-preservation.

  1. Know your limitations

It can be tempting to take on as much business as comes through the door, then worry about how you’re going to carry it out. Perhaps you see turning business away as a sign of failure? Or you’re feeling guilty about letting customers down, worried that they may not come back? Or you’re in a hurry to make money?

All valid concerns, of course, but unless you’re able to resource every job that comes in, you may find yourself working every hour of every day, every month and every year. That’s not sustainable in the medium or long term, nor is it good for your physical health or mental wellbeing (see above): you need to learn to say no. Ringfence some regular time off every day, weekend and for holidays, and set firm boundaries around your personal time.

  1. Learn the art of delegation

For your business to grow, the model needs to be scalable. However, if you’re flat out with work, the only way this can happen is if you delegate some tasks to someone else. As a small business owner, there can be 100 reasons why you may be struggling with this.

Don’t trust anyone else to do as good a job? Worried about the additional expense? Too difficult or no time to train someone up? Whatever it is, you need to find a way to get past this hurdle. At the very least, get a bookkeeper or accountant to look after your finances, and an IT expert to keep your computer system in good shape.

Delegating some areas of your business means you can let go of some of the stress, while freeing up your time to focus on your core business. Surely, that’s a win win situation.

  1. Find yourself a business coach or mentor

Small business owners can be a lonely bunch. Especially if you are working on your own, it’s easy to feel isolated and misunderstood, while your pride and sheer lack of time may stop you from seeking outside business advice.

This is where a business coach or mentor comes in. A trusted mentor will know exactly what you’re going through because he’s experienced the same business issues and found the light at the end of the tunnel. Crucially, a business coach can show you the way forward. Did you know that Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs? I rest my case.

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