Let’s face it, the life of an entrepreneur can be very stressful from the long work days, financial constraints, anxiety about the direction of the business, customer complaints, you name it! So, should you resign to being stressed out for as long as you carry the label of an entrepreneur? Not in the least!
Stress, especially chronic stress can wreak havoc on your health, relationships, productivity and ultimately your life. This is the reason why you need to find effective coping mechanisms so that you can remain productive and steer your business to the heights you dream of. Here are some practical tips which you can start implementing in order to manage entrepreneurial stress before it silently messes up your dream.
In the beginning, an entrepreneur almost does everything on their own from product development, marketing and sales, bookkeeping and even taking care of big picture aspects like charting the strategic direction of the business.
Putting on those many hats can be extremely stressful, especially given the reality that no one can be good at performing all those roles. This is where delegation comes in. To keep stress minimal, delegate or outsource as many low-level functions as possible so that you can focus on the few things that you do best, such as making big picture decisions for your business.
When you delegate, give your subordinates the professional liberty to do things the way they think is best, as long as the outcome meets or exceeds your expectations and is in line with your values. Don’t breathe down people’s necks when you delegate a task to them! You will soon learn that lots of people can do things way better than you, and many of your stressors will melt away.
Tone down perfectionism
One key obstacle in the way of meaningful delegation is that many entrepreneurs think no one can do something as well as they do. It is good to pursue excellence, but being overly fussy about tiny (often insignificant) details can derail the team and foster bad energy within the group.
Let go of your need for perfection and you will soon realize that a product can be completed and then improved upon gradually as client feedback trickles in regarding what needs to be tweaked. As you tone down your perfectionist tendencies, you will be under less stress and will be able to perform at your best for years.
Get enough sleep
While many entrepreneurs take pride in announcing how they have 80-hour weeks and remain unfazed, the reality is that sleep deprivation ultimately takes a toll on one’s physical and mental health. This is because while we sleep, the body has an opportunity to rest and recharge for the next day. For example, as all body systems slow down while we sleep, the stress hormones that kept you on edge decline and you will wake up refreshed and ready to take on another day. None of this happens when you don’t sleep for at least six hours each day.
To keep entrepreneurial stress at bay, prioritize getting ample sleep each night and you will have the resilience to soldier on as you build and grow your business.
The pressure to take on a lot of tasks can be irresistible for entrepreneurs, and that sends them down a rabbit hole of entrepreneurial stress. It is important to know the limits of how much you can take on, and it is also vital to identify your priorities.
With those two in mind, ruthlessly say no to everything that isn’t on your priority list and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. For example, don’t schedule an important business meeting an hour after a 9-hour flight if you know long flights leave you numb in body and mind. Instead, schedule ample rest time and have the meeting the next day when you are refreshed enough.
Look at boundaries in another way; when you keep saying yes to every request made to you, you are in effect saying no to your own plans, goals and dreams. Is this what you want? Learn to say no and your entrepreneurial stress will go down a few notches!
Have a proactive plan
A lot of entrepreneurial stress comes from having to react to situations as they emerge rather than taking proactive steps to manage the different aspects of your business. For instance, it can be very stressful to count the hours before a batch of inputs is delivered once production halts after the needed supplies are exhausted.
A proactive entrepreneur makes a plan to replenish the needed supplies so that they aren’t stressed by production delays while waiting for a new consignment.
Being proactive applies in all aspects of running a business, such as handling customer complaints in a timely manner and constantly scanning for and mitigating issues before they arise.
Connect with like-minded peers
The life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one, and it is important to join networks of like-minded peers so that you can get the support and help you need. A peer group of fellow entrepreneurs will act like a sounding board for your ideas, and you can even get inspiration from those who are steps ahead of you on your journey.
Such associations will act like safety valves in those times when your stress is threatening to overwhelm you, and the suggestions your network makes can be the difference between giving up prematurely or soldiering on to your success.
Take frequent breaks
Entrepreneurship can be extremely fast-paced, and one needs to take frequent breaks in order to let their body and mind recover from the demands of this lifestyle.
It is advisable that these breaks be built into your schedule so that they become a priority. For example, you can make it a habit to go for a brisk walk at noon every day, and to spend all evenings with family, uninterrupted by having to reply a work-related email or touch up a pending report.
Another way to spend these breaks is by engaging in your hobbies, such as volunteering at your favorite non-profit or going for a swim, hiking, playing golf or any other leisure activity that you fancy. When you spend your breaks in this way, you allow your mind and body to unwind from the stresses of work. As a result, you are likely to get back more energized and ready to give your best in your business.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon and not a sprint, so it is vital that you design strategies that will keep you in the race for the long haul. Implementing the stress management techniques suggested above is one way to stay in the race. Not every technique will be as effective for each entrepreneur, so approach this with an open mind and experiment until you find what works for you. Don’t let entrepreneurial stress stop you from achieving your dreams!
To Your Success,