Research published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing confirms that entrepreneurs have extremely high amounts of work-related stress due largely to the fact that they “bear personal responsibility for the success and survival of their firms.” Of course, as a small business owner, no one needs to tell you that.
But staying stressed all of the time puts you at risk of heart attacks, gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety and more. In fact, WebMD reports that 75-90 percent of all doctor visits are stress-related.
Therefore, in an effort to thwart these possible negative effects and potentially prevent some medical bills and hospital stays, let’s talk about the six very distinct categories of stress discovered in this research. This will allow you to identify whether or not each one is causing a problem for you and, if so, find a way to reduce it.
Stressor #1: Money
There is really no surprise that money would be on this list as you can’t operate a business without it. Nor can you survive if you don’t have a certain amount coming in regularly. That makes this one of the top concerns for entrepreneurs everywhere.
While you certainly can’t control the economy or force people to buy whatever it is you are selling, there are still some things you can do to make money less of a concern. At work, this includes things such as developing a smart marketing plan to increase your cash flow, not buying supplies or equipment you don’t need so you’re not overextending yourself, and getting rid of frivolous expenses like company cars and trainings in the Bahamas.
Of course, cutting expenses at home may ease a little of the burden too. I personally followed Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and dug myself out of roughly $30,000 in debt in just a couple of years, which put me in the position where I was better able to handle self-employment. Not that you have to use his program, but if debt is consuming you at home, it will help lower your stress levels to do something about it.
Stressor #2: Interpersonal Dealings
Interpersonal dealings are basically any conflict or problems that you have with others. Maybe you have a client that makes your life miserable or a business partner who expects you to do a majority of the work. These can greatly contribute to your stress at work, making you wonder why you ever wanted to operate your own business anyways.
While a whole book could be written about how to handle interpersonal dealings, just remember that it is best to deal with problems when they arise. The longer they fester, the worse they tend to get so don’t let them go for too long or they will likely cause even more stress for you. Additionally, if you’re not sure how to handle someone that you deal with at work, it can help to talk your situation over with someone that you trust. Get their input and see if they have any suggestions for you to consider.
Stressor #3: Personal Expectations
As an entrepreneur, you likely have pretty high expectations of yourself. You strive to do your best at everything, which makes it extra hard when things don’t go as planned. This puts you at risk of developing stress in this particular category, which means that you need to find some way to achieve high expectations without beating yourself up to do it.
Admittedly, this is one of the hardest stressors to overcome, but it is also one of the most necessary. One way to do it is to remind yourself how far you’ve already come. Celebrate your successes and remind yourself of all of the great things you’ve done already. Everything will happen when in its time, so allow yourself to enjoy the process and not just the end result.
Stressor #4: The Job
The fourth category of stressors are related to the job itself. These include things such as paperwork, taxes, and all of the other obligations related to owning your own business. How do you deal with these necessary evils?
If you can afford to have someone else take over some of these responsibilities for you, like a bookkeeper or accountant, that may help. If you can’t, it might benefit you to attend some trainings (in-person or online) to learn more about the things you can do to make certain tasks easier. Effective time management helps as well so that you make the most of your work day.
Stressor #5: Uncertainty
When you work for someone else, at least you know what hours you will be away from home and how much money you will bring in. You get none of these types of luxuries when you own your own small business, and the uncertainty can definitely stress you out.
For me, this is where having faith comes in. I continuously tell myself that as long as I work hard and give it all I’ve got, things will happen for me. Not always like I want, or in the way I want, or when I want, but as long as I keep moving forward, I will get there eventually. You will too.
Stressor #6: Balancing Work with Home
Finally, the sixth stressor is something a number of people struggle with and that is balancing work with home. When your business is your life, it is hard to separate the two, and can definitely cause some stress.
While there used to be a push for finding a 50/50 balance, often the key to surviving this stressor involves embracing the imbalance. It means realizing which area needs more attention and attending to it properly. It requires ebbing and flowing with both work and home, tending to them both the best that you can.
Deal with these six stressors effectively and you will feel better inside and out. Hopefully you feel better already!