Small Business Stress Management: 8 Ways to Handle Your Stress

A stressed out small business owner looking at his computer screen

Running a small business can be stressful. You often feel like everything falls on your shoulders, like finding new customers, keeping your employees happy, and paying taxes, all while still putting food on your own table. If you regularly try to push through the stress, you could end up damaging your physical and mental health. Since April is Stress Awareness Month, now’s the perfect time to learn what stresses you out and learn how to better handle the pressure that comes with owning a small business.

1. Find a mentor

You’re not the first person to own a small business, so find someone who has been where you are. By building relationships with other small business owners, you’ll have people to go to with questions and problems. A strong mentor can help you determine which strategies are best for your company and share tips they’ve learned. They have been where you are today and came out on the other side, so they’ll share the hope that you can and will get past your current problems and succeed.

2. Learn to say “no”

If you say “yes” to everything, you’ll end up being overcommitted, which will just add more stress. Instead, learn to say “no” to things that you don’t have time for or don’t make fiscal sense for your business. Sometimes, that could mean not bending over backwards to make a client happy or not picking up some of your partner’s slack. It’s important to learn where your limits are and that it’s okay to say “no” to some things.

3. Delegate

There are some things that your company can’t say “no” to, but you personally don’t have time for. In those cases, learn to delegate to your staff. You hired each member of your team because of their skills and experience, so trust them to do their jobs well by assigning tasks that aren’t in your wheelhouse or you don’t have time for.

Learn about why and how to start delegating.

4. Make time for yourself

Although many people start their own company because they want to control their schedule, small business owners often end up working long hours, leaving little time for themselves. Taking time for yourself gives you the chance to recharge, which is vital for making better decisions for your company.

If you haven’t taken time for yourself lately, don’t feel like you have to commit to taking a week-long vacation. Instead, start small. Schedule a date night with your significant other or a game night with your friends and family. You could even just leave the office during lunch, so you have time to refresh.

When you schedule time for yourself, protect it like you would a meeting and turn your phone off, so you’re not tempted to work during that time.

5. Exercise

Prioritizing your physical health can help relieve some of your stress, which will improve your mental health. You don’t have to find the time to go to the gym for a couple of hours every day. Instead, you can take some time during lunch and go for a walk, or you could step away from your computer for a few minutes and do some stretches. When you exercise, you’ll notice that your mood greatly improves, so you’ll feel confident that you can take on whatever the day throws at you.

6. Take advantage of technology

Technology can help you complete administrative tasks more quickly. You’ll be able to get everything on your to-do list done faster, so you can get back to focusing on the bigger picture.

For example, if you dread running payroll because it takes so long, you might consider using a tool like Workful, which will calculate payroll for you and let you know your payroll tax liability.

7. Get plenty of sleep

Sleep deprivation can affect your judgment, mood, and memory. You’ll be better prepared to handle your stress if you prioritize sleep. You’ll have more clarity, and you’ll be less likely to snap at your staff if someone comes to you with a question or problem.

8. Celebrate what’s going right

When you’re running your small business, you might feel like nothing is going right. It’s easy to be stressed when you’re only focusing on the negatives, so take some time to acknowledge everything that you’ve accomplished. Make a list of every milestone your small business has reached, no matter how small. Then, when you feel like everything is going wrong, review that list so you recognize every success you’ve had.

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