Helping business owners with mental health issues, Start Small but Dream Big
Don’t lose your cool – handling pressure as an entrepreneur
Stress and pressure are facts of life. We’ve all experienced them. No doubt, we all will sometime in the future, even if we’re not currently. They can be caused by anything. Work, family, health, money are common causes of stress. Handling pressure as an entrepreneur who is carrying the responsibility and challenges of running a business, can be even more difficult. This article from Forbes is a guide to recognising stress as an entrepreneur and the main causes.
Some people are more prone to stress than others. If you’re managing mental health conditions, then you probably are too. I’ll be honest – I don’t cope well with stress. As I have a generalised anxiety disorder, that’s probably not surprising. I don’t eat, I struggle to sleep, and I imagine all the worst things that could possibly happen. Learning to manage my response to stress is a work in progress, although I found that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has made a big difference to me.
When we are handling pressure caused by a heavy workload, or tight deadlines, the stress can seem overwhelming. At the time that we need to be most effective, our performance can be hindered by our mental processes. This article looks at how we can best manage our stress levels when the pressure is on.
Look at the bigger picture
Take a breath, and take a mental step back. However important this commission or job is, it is far from the last or only opportunity you will have. Yes, you want to get it right, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. There will be other projects in the future. If this one doesn’t go perfectly, you will have learned and grown from the experience. Recognising this will help you to handle the pressure, relax a little, and perform better.
Focus on the task in hand
When you have deadlines or a heavy workload, you need to focus on what you do best, what makes your business special and successful. It isn’t the time to start thinking of ways of improving your processes or coming up with new ideas. That can wait until after this project is completed. My brain likes to think up new concepts when I’m at my busiest. I’ve recognised that this is simply a way of it trying to distract me from the stress, but it’s not helpful. However, I do take a few moments to write down the ideas, and come back to them later.
This PickTheBrain.com article offers advice on how to stay focused on the task in hand.
Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees. Having a plan is a key tool in handling pressure as an entrepreneur. It will provide focus, a clear process, and ensure that you don’t miss anything. While it might seem like you’re wasting scarce time, making sure that you take the time to create a plan will prove an invaluable investment.
Plan your days, down to individual hours if you have to. Have mini-goals and targets along the way, so that you know you’re on track, or can make adjustments if you’re not.
TemplateLab.com has a range of downloadable planners suitable for most businesses and projects.
Figure out what’s most important, and do that first. What is a must-have, and what is a nice-to-have? If something doesn’t need to be done immediately, it can wait. Sometimes minor tasks can start to seem important, for the same reason that new ideas can suddenly pop up. This LiquidPLanner.com blog post has some useful advice for figuring out what you should be prioritising.
Ok, I get that this might sound really stupid and highly embarrassing, but try standing in front of a mirror and remind yourself how great you are. Yes, I know it sounds cringeworthy, but research by Stanford University has demonstrated that it works. And who are we to argue with Stanford?
Because income is unreliable when you’re a business owner, this is something that many entrepreneurs find difficult to do. Sometimes, however, you need to recognise that you are working to full capacity and cannot take on anything else at that time. This is another important aspect of managing stress as an entrepreneur. If someone is offering you work, explain the situation, and give them a date that you will be available.
However busy you are, don’t forget to practice self care. Without it, you won’t be working to your full potential. My article here explains why it’s important, and ways of incorporating it into your daily life.
At times of pressure, handling pressure and keeping a clear head is difficult, but important. This is especially true for those of us who have to be a little more careful with our mental health. Through planning, focusing, and remembering that this isn’t the be all and end all, we can all manage the pressures of tight deadlines and heavy workloads more effectively.