Entrepreneurs have a really hard job.
I should say jobs, plural, because of how many roles entrepreneurs tend to have in their business.
But I digress.
51% of all businesses in Canada will fail in their first 5 years.
You've probably heard that stat before. But it doesn't stop there...
According to a 2015 study by the University of Berkley 49% of entrepreneurs have a mental illness.
There's also the increasing pressure to be always-available, even after work hours, which according to the Globe and Mail is reaching "Epidemic Levels" in Canada.
And, all of this is exacerbated by the constantly changing demands of keeping up on social media and with other online marketing tools, which have been linked to even more mental illnesses.
With these odds, it can be a daunting task to stay profitable and stay well.
If you're an entrepreneur and find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed, depressed, lacking confidence or disappointed with your results, keep reading for 25 ways to deal.
1. Self care
You can't take care of anyone unless you take care of yourself first.
That’s why, airline attendants insist we put on our own air mask first before attending to the needs of others.
Another way of looking at your own self care can be to reflect on a great question from Yanik Silver in his book The Evolved Enterprise:
“How would you treat a million dollar racehorse? “
You probably wouldn’t feed it drive-thru, or deprive it of sleep or water.
Yet, that’s how so many of us treat our bodies when we’re busy... and we're worth a lot more than just money.
Be sure to feed yourself healthy and nutritious meals and drink lots of water.
I try to plan my meals for the week on Sundays and grocery shop accordingly.
That being said, I can be less than motivated to spend a lot of time on cooking.
I found a shortcut, I am a huge fan of shakes made in my blender. I load them up with fruits, vegetables and protein powder and put them in the fridge for when I need a nutritional boost on the go.
They look gross and don't taste all that great but they give me energy and nutrition.
I keep almonds in my car, and protein bars and apples and bananas in my kitchen.
They’re all great snacks for on the go and good for you too!
Trust me, you will be much more effective on a good night’s rest than if you've been working long hours on no sleep.
If needed, give yourself a bedtime and stick to it.
Alternatively, give yourself permission to have a nap during the day, especially if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
One of the perks of working for yourself is you don’t need to ask anyone for permission to have a mid-afternoon nap!
3. Take time off
I literally did not take a vacation for six full years in my business.
My fear was that something would catch fire or something urgent would need my attention and I wouldn't be there.
It was truly a newsflash for me when I realize that my clients did not need me to be available day and day out and they were actually happy for me that I was taking a vacation.
I didn't start my business to become a slave to it and I am sure you didn’t either.
If necessary get a virtual assistant to manage your calls and emails while you're gone and give your customers, vendors and team members plenty of notice when you will be unavailable.
Now I take regular vacations and I use them as rewards for attaining goals.
When I take trips now I know I've earned it and I also have the experience to dictate my business will not fall over if I'm not checking my email for a week.
4. Build community
Attend a networking events, join a business group, get a coach or an accountability partner, or even meet other business owners regularly for lunch or breakfast.
The power of community is huge to make sure that you feel supported and like you're not alone in your entrepreneurial journey.
This is especially important if you work from home or work alone.
Often the folks in your community will be facing or have faced some of the issues that are tripping you up right now and can offer advice grounded in experience.
Meeting someone in person on a regular basis fosters connection and can help alleviate feelings of isolation.
5. Ask for help
Take some time to think about what you're really really good at in your business - those things other people can't do as well as you.
Your goal should be to delegate everything but that.
You don't need to be able to afford a full-time staff members to get help delegate the non ideal tasks.
There are various consultants, contractors and freelancers that can take on the jobs that don't meet your ideal fit requirements.
Often it works out cheaper to hire someone to do something you don't like to try and push through it yourself.
An example I always give is graphic design.
I'm a terrible graphic designer.
What would take me six hours to build would take a graphic designer maybe one hour and the results would be much much better because they are created by professional.
6. Look at your past victories.
Take a look at where are you started and where you are now... take a moment to be proud of yourself.
If you're like me, you may find yourself thinking, "I should be farther along by now, I should be more like that guy...Remember:
The only valid comparison is where you came from to where you are now.
As the teacher always said, keep your eyes on your own paper and don't worry about everyone else.
7. Make a plan and prioritize
The freedom we have in our businesses is a double edged sword
As there are very few external structures that enforce discipline, we can become lazy and inconsistent when it comes to our schedules, planning and prioritizing how we spend our time.
I set aside an entire day once a quarter with The Procoach System to review my progress, set new holes for the quarter and break those goals down into actionable to do items.
I focus on three main goals for the quarter and three tasks associated with each goal.
Each week, I do the same thing.
I set three main goals for the week with three subtasks associated with those goals.
My weekly tasks are dictated by my quarterly goals.
And similarly my daily priorities and tasks are dictated by my weekly goals.
Each day I focus on three main priorities and I try my best to get them done first.
It can be incredibly easy to get distracted by email, social media and busywork that we can spend all day working without really accomplishing very much.
The practice of goal setting and time management provides focus and discipline which produces more results in less time.
Creating a structure like this in your business will help you feel less overwhelmed because everything is broken up into manageable small chunks.
In this way we are creating a plan as we go.
Having the framework of a plan developed reduces cognitive load because you know exactly what your next steps should be.
The time you spend creating a plan whether it be for sales, marketing, social media or even managing and creating your cash flow statements is well worth it.
Recent study by HubSpot shows that meditating can actually improve your sales results.
Beyond that it's incredibly good for your brain in this always-on world.
In our constantly connected society it's important to go off-line, get quiet and really listen to our breathing.
It's amazing how calming and relaxing focusing on your breath can really be!
9. Sleep on it
If I told you I got some of my best work done while I was sleeping, would you believe me?
It's actually true.
If I am working on something, especially creative, I often will tell myself just before I go to sleep "I would like a solution when I wake up, please"
More often than not my subconscious brain works hard while I'm asleep to come up with a solution for me.
Try and see how it works for you.
10. Positive affirmations
So much of our success is based on the strength of our internal game.
Take a minute to pay attention to what you're telling yourself or, your internal dialogue.
Unconscious beliefs and negative self talk can severely hamper our ability to achieve our goals and live a peaceful life
Be your own coach.
Encourage yourself and give yourself a pep-talk every morning.
Speak kindly to yourself.
11. Morning ritual
You may have heard of the concept of the "golden hour"
It's based on the idea but if you spend an hour getting yourself physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for the day you will be more focused.
In my golden hour I eat a healthy breakfast, meditate, use positive self talk and plan my day.
I do all of these things before I start work.
I find it helps me proactively manage my time and get me into a good headspace to take on whatever life throws at me.
12. Under promise and over deliver
When it comes to giving your clients a time estimate of completion it always pays to leave at least 20% more time than you think you need.
By giving yourself plenty of time, you reduce stress and leave room for things to go wrong, (which they do)
This extra time can then be used to your advantage as if you are done early then you wow your client.
13. Create systems for repeated tasks
There are things in every single business that are done repeatedly, over and over again.
It pays to take extra few minutes and document your process or create a template for these types of tasks so you can save time the next time or even delegate these steps to an assistant.
Examples of this could be answers to common questions, proposal documents, emails you send frequently or anything else you want to delegate.
14. Consider receiving paperless payments
Waiting for a check in the mail is the worst!
That's why I no longer except cheques, all payments are done electronically.
This has two benefits, one being that I get paid faster, it also saves me time going to the bank and it also saves paper and gas.
Lastly, I don't need to input any deposits into my financial tracking reports, as they're right there in my bank account.
If you're not paperless yet, consider it.
The endorphins that are released during exercise are a powerful and free mood booster.
Forget sugar, alcohol or whatever else you use to cope with stress.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, a short brisk walk will make you feel better 100% of the time.
16. Feel your feelings
Brenée Brown points out that we are the most medicated, obese, in debt generation in history.
Coping with negative feelings by numbing with alcohol, food, shopping, gambling etc. contributes negatively to mental health.
Instead of repressing our negative feelings it's better to let them out. I like to journal or talk to a friend...or if I am really upset, that brings me to:
We are the only mammals that have the ability to cry.
The chemicals released in your body after a good cry are incredibly healing and designed to make us feel better.
I recommend a good cry at least once a month. I am a big cryer, and I am not ashamed to admit it.
I think it's a sign of an emotionally well balanced person.
18. Vitamin D
Did you know that your body cannot absorb vitamin D from the sun during winter?
In Canada it's winter for a very, very long time.
Consider taking vitamin D supplements - they will help boost your mood and increase your happiness.
19. Keep electronics out of your bedroom when you're sleeping
The electromagnetic frequency of all your devices, sending and receiving to various satellites and cell towers can actually make it hard for your body to relax.
Not to mention, the buzzes, beeps and dinging sounds can interrupt your rest.
For best results leave your phone outside your bedroom and limit exposure to electronics an hour before bed
20. Reflect on your purpose
Getting back to you the reason why you are doing what you're doing is an extremely powerful picking me-up when times are hard.
Passion and enthusiasm are a wonderful energizing tools to help you move forward even when you don't feel like it.
21. Give back
Giving feels really good.
If you live in North America and are reading this on your cell phone then you are in a small percentage of extremely wealthy people on this planet.
So many other humans in our communities are hungry and without shelter.
There are so many ways to give back. It will make you feel good and create positive change in the world.
You could even take it one step further and involve your clients your vendors or your team in order to make a bigger impact.
22. Stop procrastinating
Procrastination usually comes from fear.
Being afraid that the results or outcome will not be what we want can stop us from getting started in the first place.
Putting off something we know we should be doing may feel for a moment like we're getting away with something.
The reality is, having something left undone in the back of your mind is more of an energy drain than you think.
Just get it done and do your best and trust that is good enough.
23. Say no
Well, this may sound simple and easy - but it isn't so easy for a lot of people.
If you find yourself overwhelmed then you need to start saying no more often.
No it is actually a complete sentence!
Be polite, but you don't have to justify yourself to anyone!
I recommend saying no to at least three things a day...it's like my mental health quota.
Reflect on your purpose, your priorities and what only you can do in your business.
Anything that doesn't fit within those three areas are things you should not be doing.
Think about 10 things you're grateful for each day.
Write them down and say thank you out loud, for each item.
If you do this every day you will train your brain to focus on the positive instead of the negative, which will make you more resilient to stress.
You'll probably be happier too.
Remember that to me at least - you are a superhero
Small business owners are the backbone of the economy.
We take on great risk and great stress to try and improve the world around us.
And for that, you are amazing.
Don't forget it!
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