Wake up, you need to make money.
The recurring stanza from the band Twenty One Pilots’ hit song “Stressed Out” was about the harsh reality of transitioning to adulthood, but it’s an equally relevant anthem for most small and medium-sized businesses. During an era of increasing global competition, nonstop tech advancements and rising anxiety disorders, it’s not surprising to see so many businesses feeling more frazzled than dazzled.
And while some of the prevalent, underlying causes of work stress aren’t likely to evaporate, the good news is there are ways to reduce your tension. For SMB owners, in particular, some of it comes down to changing behavioral patterns. Consider the following five stress reducers, some of which I experienced personally as a former SMB owner:
- Loosen your grip. It’s so common for entrepreneurs to assume, “If I don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.” After all, in many cases it’s the SMB founder alone who got his or her concept off the ground, so it’s natural to have a lasting sense of ownership, even as the business grows and adds staff. But if you have employees on the payroll, or you’re paying an outside vendor, you shouldn’t need to micromanage them. Ultimately the time you’re spending on mundane tasks, on re-checking another person’s work, translates to hours when you’re not selling, days when you aren’t networking, and weeks when you aren’t thinking strategically about the business. If you can’t trust the people you’ve hired to get basic tasks completed, it’s time to find new staff.
- Get some outside perspective. If you invest some time online you can find several business networking groups, local events and other opportunities to meet other professionals in your industry or region. All networking opportunities are not created equal, but there’s a psychological benefit to hearing other people talk about their challenges and opportunities. It’s a reminder that you’re not alone. Better yet, you might end up meeting a valuable contact.
- Set a hard stop time. When I was running my own consultancy a couple years ago, one of my biggest hurdles was allowing myself to stop thinking about the business. For those of you who work from home, this is an even greater challenge, as there may not be a default start or end time. That can breed inefficiency, and it can put a strain on your family if you’re constantly preoccupied. Setting work-life parameters and a deadline for when you stop working will get your brain in gear while giving you enough time to recharge your batteries to be effective tomorrow.
- Make your website work for you. In 2017, most businesses recognize they need a decent web site, but I still see too many SMBs neglect to include basic functionality like contact forms, calls to action, etc. Even more of them fail to post content that would be helpful to potential customers, who are increasingly doing their homework online before considering a sales pitch. The good news is there are plenty of options when it comes to cost-effective content creation, including our team at BridgeTower. (If you’re interested to hear more, email my friend Jon Babicz at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Make one change at a time. Even if all of the prior four suggestions on this list resonate with you, don’t try to tackle all of them at once. One of the fundamental truths in The Power of Habit is that making one change to a pattern of behavior typically builds momentum for additional changes. When you can implement a single improvement and make it stick, it’s a confidence builder that positions you for further growth.
Adam Reinebach is the President and CEO of BridgeTower Media, which serves the SMB community in 22 markets through its marketing solutions, news and analysis, informative web seminars and networking events. As a former SMB owner and business consultant, Adam is passionate about providing SMB readers and customers with tangible, actionable value.