Reminders Before You Begin Your Journey

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-“I’m energized in my business” Unknown

Don’t waste money.  Handling money incorrectly and being irresponsible with cash flow is a death sentence for startups with limited access to capital. I’ve made the mistake of hiring too many people instead of the right people, and spending money to fill the top of the funnel without having a well-defined process to manage the bottom of the funnel. Putting good money to bad use and trying to be everything to everyone instead of being niche-focused is a sure-fire way to waste valuable time and money, which are the lifeblood to any startup.

Don’t give yourself the wrong salary.  Paying yourself too little or too much is a mistake. It’s often easier to determine the salary for a new hire than determining an owner or partner’s pay. Consider paying yourself a percentage of revenue. Whatever you choose, make figuring out your pay and that of your partners.  It’s a practice and foundation to a healthy expectation of management.

Don’t undervalue your product or service.  Don’t price too high, but don’t price too low just to gain market share. If you are good, price like it! Many entrepreneurs start with the best of intentions and give things away for free, or do free things for charity, community or visibility. Be very careful with this, because you don’t want to be known as a source of freebies. Ring the cash register first.

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Don’t launch too quickly.  One of the biggest mistakes startups make is launching before they are ready. The saying ‘done is better than perfect’ is the right advice, however, the ‘done’ needs to ensure it can handle new clients. Once you have launched into the public and you start getting clients, ensure that your systems and processes are in place, such as payment terms and process, contracts, communications, whilst still being able to maintain your marketing strategy. The back-end processes need to be watertight before you start taking on clients; if they aren’t, these are the cracks that will show and appear unprofessional.

Don’t launch too quickly.  One of the biggest mistakes startups make is launching before they are ready. The saying ‘done is better than perfect’ is the right advice, however, the ‘done’ needs to ensure it can handle new clients. Once you have launched into the public and you start getting clients, ensure that your systems and processes are in place, such as payment terms and process, contracts, communications, whilst still being able to maintain your marketing strategy. The back-end processes need to be watertight before you start taking on clients; if they aren’t, these are the cracks that will show and appear unprofessional.

Don’t expand too quickly.  When you start to see success, it can be easy to assume that growth will continue, and the best way to make the most out of it is to simply copy and paste your working formula. However, if you … expand your business too rapidly, it could have dire consequences. You may find that your period of growth was only temporary, and end up stuck with a bunch of new staff but no work and no funds to cover them. That’s why it’s important to take a slow and steady approach to expansion, and never act on a spur of good results.

Implement a proper bookkeeping process.  Many startup founders begin without a bookkeeping process in place. Great bookkeeping habits help you make smarter business decisions, spot opportunities early on and head off problems before they become unmanageable. Understanding your financials helps to keep a pulse on your business’s financial health. Good bookkeeping practices also ensure that you’re on top of issues like tax and insurance payments that can get otherwise great businesses into trouble.

Create a marketing plan.  If you have successfully validated the problem, market and idea for your startup, then you need to have a plan for how you’re going to get your first user, first 10 users, first 100 users, and so on. That’s where you need a detailed marketing strategy that encompasses the initial acquisition of users, the conversion of those users into paying customers, and making those customers so happy with your product that they help you get more users (through reviews, word-of-mouth, referrals, etc.)

Don’t hire the wrong people.  Different skill sets and backgrounds are needed for the different positions you’ll want to fill. When you get started, make sure you have hard-working, all-around generalists who can do everything you need them to [do]. When you begin to grow, look at hiring those who are specialized for the roles that need a specialist. Don’t hire a generalist when you need someone who is specialized, and don’t hire a specialist when you could hire a generalist to do it.

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Don’t overpromise or under deliver.  Don’t overstretch yourself in the pursuit of revenue. It is far better to tell a potential customer that you can take on their project next month, for example, rather than take on too much. Not only will this save you from failing to meet targets due to an increased workload, but it will also make you look like you’re in high demand. And that’s always good.

Don’t underestimate the demands of business.  The biggest mistake startups make is underestimating the demands of the business. Documentaries and blogs about startups are making people think optimistically; this is because the information available does not highlight the hardships of starting a business, but it glorifies the end, which is a thriving business. Because of this, people think that a startup is easy and fun, when in reality, it is quite the opposite. Startups take most of your time and money. It can even ruin relationships.

Bottom line, a successful startup is not built by one single person alone – surround yourself with subject matter experts and mentors you can lean on and learn from. Although there are several startup mistakes you will want to avoid while building your business, occasional mistakes are inevitable, and manage your expectations accordingly. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Business

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– “I am thankful for the opportunities that come my way” Unknown

I’ve been researching quite a bit and according to the data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of operation, and roughly half of all businesses don’t survive past the fifth year. So how do you successfully launch and run your startup? And based on the data by Bureau of Labor Statistics on hundreds of small business owners, growth strategists, financial advisors, legal experts, and business consultants compiled the biggest mistakes that startups make so you can avoid them when starting your business.

Don’t be afraid to fail.  The biggest mistake you can make is to be afraid of failure. Failure is key to your success, and jumping into your fear is very positive for your future business. How you pick up after failure and learn from your mistakes is the key to great success.

Make a business plan.  Too many businesses start without a basic plan, and if you fail to plan, you are essentially planning to fail. A startup should map out a business plan, even if it is just one page. It should include how much it costs to operate, how much they anticipate selling, who would buy their product and why. 

Get organized.  Being organized is key to running a small business.  .It’s normal to have dozens of things happening at once.  So, I have a daily task list, things that I need to do.  And I list them by their priority.  It sounds simple, but it works, and makes me far more productive.

Understand your market and target audience.  A common startup mistake is not taking the time to understand the market or customers you’re building for. For technical founders, writing code can seem easier than talking to customers, but there’s no way to know if you’re on the right track unless you’re constantly getting feedback from current or prospective customers. It’s important to recognize that building a great product often doesn’t translate into a successful business. Many companies find themselves focusing on a market that’s simply too small to build a big business in.

File for the proper legal structure and business registration.  The biggest mistakes that startups make are not registering their businesspicking the right business entity or protecting their intellectual property. These three areas are crucial to a business starting right, where if not done properly, will cost valuable time and money to correct.  A big mistake that most entrepreneurs make is thinking they are all alone, and they try to operate independently without surrounding themselves with wise counsel. Don’t try to run a new business by yourself. Find and onboard trustworthy seasoned advisors to discuss your business ideas, strategy, challenges, and progress. Wisdom and power exist in the multiplicity of counsel. Incentivize four to six people to join your company as advisors in order to receive continuous feedback so that fewer mistakes will occur.

An important piece of advice that entrepreneurs should know before starting a business is that investors are more than just financial backers. A company’s first set of investors will make or break it. These individuals place their confidence in the business’s potential without having a proof of concept presented to them. Once businesses have undergone their seed funding, then they’ll interact with investors who look at the business’s growth and sustainability.

Don’t avoid contracts.  One of the biggest mistakes a business owner/entrepreneur can make when starting a business is the failure to implement contracts. No matter how good relationships may be, they can come to a screeching halt when systems and agreements are not put in place.

Don’t hire too soon. By far, the biggest mistake a startup can make is hiring employees too soon, such as hiring full-timers when a part-timer might make more sense, or hiring an employee when a subcontractor could have done the same job/function. It is very easy to run a small business with part-timers, subcontractors and the services of other professionals.

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Don’t underestimate capital requirements. Most entrepreneurs think they can get further with less. In an effort to minimize equity dilution, they forget to factor in unknowns, challenges or delays along the way. Startup leaders tend to plan for the best-case scenario, but that almost never happens. This mentality can be attributed to leaders’ positivity and having drunk their own Kool-Aid. Positivity has its place, however, when it comes to capital; it often results in having to go back to the well for a less-than-ideal raise. 

Don’t be afraid of failure; instead, learn from your mistakes and pivot your business model as needed. Test new ideas and acquire feedback so you can tweak your product to better meet customers’ needs. 

Leader Types For Your Small Business

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-“As I become more and more successful, I help more and more people” Unknown

When it comes to hiring new employees, and expanding your growing business, leadership is one of the most desirable qualities.  A strong leader can make unpopular but essential decisions is driven by results, and can exercise strong self-control to ensure the end-goal.  It should come as no surprise then that it is these people who are most likely to succeed in business, often achieving higher salaries and positions of responsibility as compared to other personality types.

But leadership is a broad quality of which there are many types, and knowing which leader is most appropriate for driving success in your business is essential to building productive teams.   I’ll be going over different types of leaders:

The Inspector is the loudest is not always the most successful and this is often true of inspector-type leaders.  As the name would suggest, inspectors, are highly detail-orientated and thrive off of doing things by the book.  If your business has overlooked fine, important details in the past, or you require someone who does well in financial or contract-based roles, then hiring an inspector is likely to turn things around.

The Mastermind is a type of leader values logic above all else, pure and simple.  While they are especially independent – and this needs to be respected for them to be able to offer their best – they are extremely adept at solving complex challenges that often go ignored or are given up on by others.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) are the hard-working leaders that most fit the stereotype: they’re optimistic; value quick and decisive decision-making; and are the most likely to think of options when faced with obstacles. However, a word of warning: while they will inspire others with their outgoing and positive approach, they are not as likely to consider all options when making decisions, frequently assuming that everyone will simply agree with them.

The Supervisor is if your existing business or teams are showing signs of disorganization, then a supervisor is probably the best leader to seek out next.  For them, success is short-term, tangible, and visible, so you can expect fast and effective results; just don’t assign them projects which may require long periods to complete.

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The Inventor is the personality type most likely to become an entrepreneur, primarily because of their risk-taking, can-do attitude.  These are the people who will insist anything can be done, and the more you tell them otherwise, the more they will determine to find a way.  While this can sometimes lead to clashes amongst teams or even with those of greater authority, inventors are undeniably experts at innovating businesses and driving them into the future.

So how do find the leaders for your business?  If you have already identified which leader you need, you will need to identify potential candidates who meet these qualities.  While interviews, work history, and references should all factor into your selection, candidates will always attempt to present to you their best selves when applying for a job.  So, in addition, you should begin integrating a personality test into your hiring process.  The above personality types refer to 5 of the 16 personality outcomes of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), which is the most popular personality test among businesses for its ease of administration and the detailed profiles it presents.  If you’d prefer a more reliable test or one with more focus on business-only aspects of personality, alternatives are available for you to research.

Of the things that I’ve always liked and is one of the most attractive elements of the MBTI is not only that it gives an indication of a person’s desired way of working and motivations, but it also gives recruiters insight into their key stressors.  For instance, supervisors and inspectors, who crave plans and structures, may frequently clash with the more spontaneous inventors who like to change things on a whim.  Equally, while leaders are essential for driving forward, solving problems and innovating, teams also need emphatic people to create a friendly work environment, as well as hardworking and highly skilled types capable of getting on with the work after all, without them, there won’t be anyone to enact all those great ideas.

Start by identifying what type of leader your business needs and use a personality test to help inform your hiring decision.  Just remember, your current workforce has their preferred way of doing things, too; while it can be good to mix things up a little where there are problems, you don’t want to upset a productive team.  Which leader type are you?

Strategizing Yourself

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-” I believe in myself and trust in my abilities to succeed in all I do” Unknown

Time Management is a must, especially in business, which are skills centered on time.  Many entrepreneurs start their businesses part-time while still holding full-time jobs. Balancing the workload of a small business in the few hours after work can be difficult. After a long workday, it’s normal to feel exhausted. However, you still need to work on your business to make it a success.  One of the great things about mastering my own is time management business skill is that I can learn to maximize my time with the same number of hours. I’ve seen that other successful entrepreneurs are allotted the same 24 hours each day.  However, how they manage those hours is what sets them up for long-term success.

Determination is one of the business skills you need to make it.  Determination will help you overcome adversity.  It’s what keeps entrepreneurs motivated even if they have several failed business ventures under their belt.  It’s what helps them ignore the words of their haters and skeptics.  If you have a big goal that you’re trying to accomplish, you can develop your determination as it helps drive you.  The best thing about being a determined entrepreneur is that it makes adversity bearable. Most determined businesspeople don’t even realize they’re experiencing challenges because they’re so committed to achieving their goal. No negative thought or obstacle can stand in the way of their success. They’re ready to work around every obstacle and do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.

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Resourcefulness is key to business skills with which are like game-changers.  Resourceful entrepreneurs always find a way of figuring things out.  They know who to contact if they’re having a problem they can’t solve. They know how to use search engines to learn how to do something. They know when to ask for help and when to solve a problem on their own.  Being resourceful means you know how, where, and when to get the information you need.  By being resourceful, you become an independent entrepreneur. It allows you to find information on your own without continually needing to rely on others for help.  Whatever you need to figure out, you’ll always find a way.  Sometimes, the answers you need can’t be searched for online.  In those cases, a resourceful person would take the lead and run an experiment to find out the answer on his or her own.

Creativity is one of the many business skills you need to start a business.  You’ll be utilizing creativity when writing copy for your website, coming up with ideas to make your website stand out, and marketing your business.  Problem-solving also requires some creativity.  Sometimes to solve complicated problems, you have to think outside the box for a solution.  Creativity is a great business skill to have because it allows you to differentiate your brand from competitors. It also allows you to find other paths to your goals when obstacles present themselves. Also, it will enable you to come up with solutions to complicated problems.

In 2021, creativity can be found all over social media. Spend some time watching videos on Tik-Tok or Instagram to see how entrepreneurs channel their creativity to promote their businesses and themselves. 

Strategizing as a business owner, you’ll also be utilizing your strategy skills.  Creating a strategy for long-term growth will keep your business alive for more than just a few months. Those who are able to strategize can see a future for their business and have a plan of attack for it.  They don’t merely create a company to make money right now.  Instead, they create a business to make money for life.  One of the key benefits of being able to strategize is that you can consider the long-term consequences of short-term decisions.  You’ll be able to foresee potential problems and come up with a plan to minimize risk.  You’ll also know which risks are worth taking and which can be disastrous.  In addition, you’ll know where you plan on being in five, ten or even twenty years. And it’s that kind of long-term plan that sets you up for future success.

The business skills we develop can help you and I succeed as an entrepreneur. You’ll need to establish a balance of hard business skills like marketing and soft business skills like creativity. Taking the time to become a master of these skills and more can allow you to build a successful brand. You’ll also be able to provide adequate training to employees and virtual assistants. Which of these business skills have you already mastered?

Entrepreneurs Need to Have This

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-“I can achieve any goals I set myself in business” Unknown

As I’ve noticed with all entrepreneurs, one of the business skills you’ll need to develop is marketing. Marketing allows you to gain new customers, grow your social media followers, write compelling website descriptions, plan promotions, and more. Fortunately, there’s plenty of information available online to develop this business skill. Whether you need to learn how to optimize your business or master TikTok before your competitors do, most entrepreneurs can develop marketing skills through trial and error.

Marketing skills are one of the most valuable business skills for entrepreneurs. Many of the top-performing businesses have entrepreneurs with strong marketing backgrounds running them.  Especially in this era we are in, in 2021, you’ll want to have strong skills in TikTok, Instagram, advertising, content marketing, and email, just to name a few. 

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Sales is the most entrepreneurs can confirm that sales skills are essential. If you sell physical products, you’ll need to know how to sell them to retailers.  Or you may need to develop partnerships with companies to sell your product to their employees.  Even the owner of an ecommerce business is still required to be a salesperson.  If a customer is unsure about whether or not a specific product is right for them, you’ll need to be able to persuade them to buy the product.

You also need to be able to differentiate between soft and hard business skills when it comes to sales. Most customers think of a hard sell when they think of sales. For example, the car salesman who follows you around pitching that you need to buy this car right now before it’s too late.  A soft sell would be giving away a free sample-sized version of the lip gloss or a guide on picking the right lip gloss for your skin tone for your beauty brand.  It’s important to know when and where to use soft and hard sells for your business.

In this day of age, you’ll need to have a clear unique value proposition to help differentiate yourself from other competitors. Everyone is fighting for the attention of customers, buyers, and other businesses.  So in sales, a business skill you’ll need to know is how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

Customer Service is the core as a business owner.  You are responsible for managing the business skill of customer service.  You’ll be required to process refunds, respond to customer inquiries, and manage feedback.  Having customer service skills will allow you to keep customers even if they’re unhappy with their first purchase.  That’s because you’ll know how to resolve the issue without burning the bridge.  Also, it’ll let you understand your customer’s needs because you’ll be in regular contact with them. You’ll also use your customer service skills while communicating with customers before, during, and after their purchase.

It’s important to know that business skills such as customer service are essential.  Customer service allows you to build relationships with your customers. The stronger your customer relations, the easier it is to serve customers products they love.  If customers are always complaining about the quality of a specific product, you could easily change the supplier and offer a product of higher quality. This keeps your customers coming back.  It also lets your customers know that you’re committed to keeping them happy and listening to their needs.  In my previous MBA courses, it’s imperative to focus on mindful listening.  Often, entrepreneurs listen to respond. However, listening to respond often leads to missing out on some key details. By practicing mindful listening, you’ll better understand what the customer expects of your business and its products.  In customer service, one of the business skills to develop is reading between the lines.

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Accounting is a financial acumen and is one of the most critical business skills you’ll ever need.  When you’re starting your first business, you might take a while to develop this skill.  However, as your business grows, you’ll need to master your ability to budget, invest, and forecast.  You’ll be required to pay your government’s taxes.  Also, you’ll need to know what type of things you can write off.  You’ll also need to make sure that you’re still making a profit after paying off all your expenses. 

Understanding accounting and finance will allow you to take your business to new heights. You’ll be better equipped to determine how much money you should spend on marketing, employees, and more.  Also, you’ll know how to save your business some money when sales are generally lower.  You’ll even know how to grow your profits through reinvestment; as costs are rising more than ever.  Therefore, the business skill you’ll need to focus on developing is a better understanding of what your business’ tax write-offs are so you can save more money. 

Adaptability is as important as getting into some soft business skills you’ll need to develop. Most entrepreneurs need to be adaptable.  Even if you choose to start a drop-shipping business, you’ll make use of this skill.  For example, recently, Coronavirus and Chinese New Year caused many drop-shipping companies to pause sales.  Packages were not being shipped out to customers due to a temporary block by China itself. This can add a lot of stress to a business.  By being adaptable, you may temporarily switch to another supplier based in the United States during that time.  Being adaptable is a business skill you need because it keeps your business alive during tough times. When technology changes, some businesses choose not to change their business model. However, this can eventually kill the business.

What Skills Are Essential to Start a Business

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– “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.” Unknown

There’s so much involved and what you’ll require from a number of skills to start and run a business.  It is important to identify the skills you need to develop or improve so that you can succeed in your day-to-day business operations.  These business skills are essential.

Financial management is being able to effectively manage your finances and is critical to the business.  I know I’ll need to be able to forecast my cash flow and sales, as well as, monitor my own profit and loss.  Having sound financial management skills will help me to run my business profitably and protect my financial investment; especially when managing your financials.  Marketing, sales and customer service is also important to be able to promote your own products or services effectively.  Providing good customer service and having a marketing strategy in place will help my business to generate sales.

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Communication and negotiation with your suppliers, potential investors, customers and employees.  Having effective written and verbal communication skills will help you to build good working relationships.  Every communication should reflect the image you are trying to project.

Leadership is very important when you employ people, leadership will be a key skill. You must be able to motivate your staff in order to get the best out of them and improve productivity. Allocate time to mentor and coach your employees.

Project management and planning in starting a business means you will have to manage a range of projects, such as setting up a website, arranging the fit-out of your premises and developing a range of policies and procedures. Knowing how to effectively manage your resources, including time, money and staff will help you to achieve your goals.

Delegation and time management is critical, especially when failure to delegate is a trap many business owners fall into usually because they are reluctant to let go of control.  Managing your time effectively may mean delegating responsibility to someone else in the business or outsourcing. Identifying who you can delegate tasks to, allows you to concentrate on those tasks that generate revenue.

Problem solving will always arise, however, it’s how much you plan, and you will encounter problems in your business. This means you need to be able to make good decisions, sometimes under pressure.

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Networking is key to building good relationships through networking will help you to grow your business and give you the support you’ll need.  It’s a good idea to consider joining an industry or business association to grow your network.

How to develop business skills. Here are the top three:

1)    Trial and error is the most effective way to develop business skills is through action. You’ll learn more by signing up for TikTok and creating video content than you would if you were to watch someone else do it. That’s why the number one way to develop a business skill is to practice it yourself. It can be extremely intimidating to do something for the first time. You may worry about the mistakes you’ll make or how you’ll be perceived. However, pushing through that fear and anxiety is what’ll help you learn new business skills efficiently.

2)    Learning from others is another great way to develop business skills is to sign-up for an online course. If you’re looking to learn how to start drop-shipping, you could consider signing up for a drop-shipping tutorial. If you want to learn from a range of successful entrepreneurs, you can subscribe to the Start Yours podcast. There you’ll learn some of the most up-to-date tactics entrepreneurs practice today. There’s also no shortage of free online courses for entrepreneurs that teach you skills like email marketing, Facebook ads, and more.

3)    Looking for patterns is a third way to develop business skills is by studying what other people do. Aim to find the patterns of success by studying how others do it. If you’re looking to learn search engine optimization (SEO), you can spend time studying the highest listed articles for various keywords. If you’re looking to create viral social media posts, you can spend time looking at the most popular posts for multiple hashtags. Or, if you simply want to develop leadership skills, you can study the leaders you admire and note what they do differently. 

Further your knowledge and skills when running a business, knowing that it is a demanding task.  Don’t be afraid to seek assistance if you are unsure about your abilities and skills. Developing the necessary skills will provide your business with solid foundations. What’s your skills?

Balancing Your Business And Yourself

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– “I have an unshakeable perseverance” Unknown

Delegating or outsourcing tasks when I’m used to being the boss; can be hard to let go and give up my control.  But seeing other small business owner knows, that we can’t do it all.  And if I’m trying to, then I’m probably not doing a good job at every single thing. That’s why learning how to delegate or outsource certain parts of the business is a foundation for being successful.

For example, I struggle with Facebook but love working face-to-face with clients.  Hiring a social media manager might free up my time and to do just that.  Figuring out how I want to spend my time and what I’d rather avoid.  In the end, outsourcing allows me to grow my company.  It’s important early on to recognize where my weaknesses are, so that I can hand over those areas to other people who do them much better.  Doing this can also relieve so much stress, not having a task hang over myself that I know I need to do but that I struggle with and find time-consuming.

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Choosing my tools wisely are meant to make my job easier, not harder.  But if I spending more time learning how to use them than actually using them, it’s not doing me any favors.  I know it’s important to choose tools wisely, because they are meant to be the things that take away stress and help with tasks instead of adding to the problem.  Testing out different software until I find the one that takes my stress away so I can benefit fully from it.

Unplugging during my off-time is reminding me that I’m not a robot.  I can’t work all the time and expect to maintain the same level of productivity and efficiency.  I need to replenish my energy levels, and not just physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  When I’m working on my business, I want to be present and in the moment.  That would be difficult if I’m unable to unplug in my off time and feel a conflict between my work life and my personal life.

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As a future entrepreneur, I’ll probably feel tied to my phone, but I need time away from answering emails and checking in with customers.  Unplugging and doing a digital detox allows parts of my brain to rest.  I’ve realized that reading, watching TV, going for a walk, and talking with others are all great ways to engage a different part of my brain.  Making sure I take time for activities I find enjoyable.  It’s essential to combat stress by seeking out experiences that will help restore myself.  It’s especially important to power down my devices and avoid blue light, which can keep me awake, at least an hour before bedtime.  Plus, I won’t have to worry about an email keeping me up that night.  I know I’ll sleep better so I can be rested and alert for the next day of tending to my business.  What ideas to you have to manage your stress?

Prioritizing

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-“I am disciplined” Unknown

Building a solid schedule is as important as having a structure because the more we plan, the less we have to actively anticipate what might happen.  The military always emphasized planning is the key to victory which in-turn, helped me have a greater sense of self-efficacy or confidence in my ability to handle whatever might come up.

When I have a regular routine, I know what to expect at work, and that gives me a sense of peace and control, making it easier to keep stress at managed better.  If I know in advance that I have a difficult item to cross off my to-do list, I tackle it first thing in the morning to avoid that sense of dread.  Plus, I know I’ll feel accomplished and ready to conquer whatever else comes my way.

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Taking care of myself mindfully is one thing, but my body is also another.  Having a routine for myself is good for my circadian rhythm, which is effectively my internal body clock that can dictate things like when I feel tired or energized and can really impact my ability to focus.  For example, I know my energy and concentration dips around 3 p.m.  So, in my routine around that time, I usually have a workout scheduled that gives me some time away to re-energize.

A common complaint from small business owners is that there are never enough hours in the day.  Usually when exploring into this issue, the problem is not a lack of time but a lack of a schedule.  A schedule allows a person to plan, to anticipate, and helps keep life organized.  I recommend that all activities go onto a schedule, even play time!

Prioritizing my time is a reason “self-care” and has become such a buzzword.  I think in society, we’ve come to realize just how crucial it is to carve out time for ourselves to keep a healthy mental state.  Looking after myself is key to keeping my stress under control.

Prioritizing “me time” is really important because it is so easy to get caught up in what I’m doing, to which I can really forget about myself and who I am; where I need to separate my business.  Taking time for myself, or using it to go out with friends and family, is often what re-affirms my belief in what I’m doing. It’s really important to not lose myself within my business, because that, in the worst case scenario, then can lead to my business itself losing its way.  As a small business owner, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of always being on the clock.  Just as I schedule time for certain tasks I need to get done, I make sure to schedule free time for myself.  I teach clients to see their downtime as beneficial to creativity and efficiency because I tend to work better after taking a break.  Taking a break allows my brain to take in new information and to generate creativity.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Learning to say ‘no’ is important when I’m starting out.  I may not have the luxury of opportunities flying at me, so I say yes to everything.  I know eventually I’ll focus on my mission and ask myself, “Will this help me get there?” before deciding yes or no.

Of course, I know saying no can be really tough.  But it’s important to remember my value and that I have limited time.  Instead of thinking I may offend the other person, it’s an opportunity to show them that when I decide to do something, I really value what I’m doing and that I’m doing it on my own terms.  Otherwise, taking on more than I can handle is the fastest way to fall into a stress trap.  It’s important to learn that setting boundaries is necessary to safeguard small business owners’ well-being, their time, and to protect their business.  When approached with a request, the small business owner should ask themselves the following:

  1. Is this something I want to do?
  2. Do I have time to do it?
  3. What is its importance level, and will it fit it into my schedule?

Saying no is also key to setting boundaries.  When I don’t set boundaries, I’ve realized that I end up feeling taken advantage of, burned out, stressed out, and end up as people pleasers, workaholics, isolated, or feeling misunderstood.  Simply stated: Boundaries are one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health and wellness.

Ways to Manage Your Stress

Stressed small business owner.

– “I solve the “people pain points” that keep leaders awake at night.” Mark Murphy

I know there’s plenty of perks to owning your business, like being the boss, for one. I get to see my own plans and dreams come to life and I can set the company track exactly as I see fit.  But do I understand the downside to running a small business? All of the stress that comes with it. That’s why I’m learning to manage stress is crucial for small business owners.

The simple truth is managing my stress is important to me as a business owner because I’ll have a few employees under me.  That means if I burn out, I can ultimately slow the business progress or momentum and when I’m not well, or my businesses can’t be well.  I also know that if I cope poorly with stress, I tend to have the worse physical and mental health outcomes overall, so as business owner or not, this is an area that I feel should be a top priority for all of us.

Photo by Rachel Claire

Reducing stress should always be at the top of your to-do list to keep myself sane and my company healthy, too.  That’s why it’s important not to feel guilty for stepping back or prioritizing some and having ‘me’ time.”  I know that coming from the military.

Luckily, I’ve seen that there are plenty of small business stress management techniques that will help take away the tension and anxiety of my work.  I know to be aware to try these tactics to manage my stress levels.  Here are some ways to handle small business stress:

Recognize what’s going well is one of the first things I will point out.  This is just as important to recognize what’s going well (if not more so) as it is to recognize where things aren’t going so well.  In the military, they’ve always preached to identify strategies that work best for me, which tend to play off my strengths.  It’s also good to take inventory of areas of coping where we tend to have more engaged or active responses to stress versus disengaged responses, which can inform our future attempts at other areas of stress management.  I know I have habits that come more naturally to me that are healthy, and I believe these are the strategies should tap into first to address when creating a stress management plan.

Plus, when I consider what’s going right with my business that instantly puts me in a positive mindset, which makes it much easier to combat stress.  Taking stock of things that have gone well help me put things into perspective the changes that affect myself and the growth that I have achieved.  The feeling that I’m making progress, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to relax.  It helps me to recognize my journey, and that my work towards the goal that I have is pushing me forward.  It also just makes you feel more organized.  Being able to identify where things are working or are not what makes me feel like I have control over what is happening, in what can feel like the chaos of running a business.

Focusing on the good things about my business also keeps my mind in the present. When I’m stressed, my brain tells me that I have to stay vigilant.  My brain goes into hyper-drive with all the things that could be going wrong, will go wrong, might have already gone wrong, and how I’ll fix it.  This is one way my brain uses to keep me locked into familiar routines.  This is precisely why it’s imperative to break this cycle, which keeps me chained to unhealthy coping behaviors and keeps me stress level high.

Identifying my stressors is vital to me and to be able to tackle them.  Stress usually comes from a problem you haven’t yet started to solve or are having trouble solving.  I think the best way to identify stressors is to take a step back.  As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly working and adjusting and testing to grow.  Being in that kind of intense mindset all day long can really constrict a wider perspective I need to really pinpoint the areas that are causing my stress and how best to tackle them.  Once I’ve identified what is causing my stress, I’m much more able to work out how to deal with it.  And even just identifying what is causing my stress, can help me alleviate some of it.

I’ll always keep in mind that people respond to stress in their own unique way.  Self-awareness is key here because everyone is different.  Once you know what stresses you out, you can delegate those tasks to others.  If that’s not an option, knowing that a particular part of the job triggers anxiety can help you prepare to tackle it and just take a deep breath before going in.  Over time, you can work on changing your response to the stressor.

We can do this through practicing mindfulness techniques to open our awareness to our body sensations, thoughts, and behaviors.  We can also self-monitor through journaling or tracking mood states, symptoms and thought habits. And while it’s good to identify stressors, it’s even more important to identify our perceptions and responses to these stressors. Research shows us that it matters less what the stressor is and more how we respond to the stressor.

More Frustrations

Photo by energepic.com

-“I realize there will be obstacles but I have the strength to get through them” Unknown

Isolation comes when entrepreneurs start a business they tend to have a million tasks they need to complete in order to achieve their vision. This often causes them to spend less time with family, friends and significant others, and many are also required to relocate.  Looking as if my company stress builds up, I’m inclined to double the amount of work we take on as a natural response to an emergency. This behavior tends to further affect me by muting my supportive relationships and reducing my ability to cope with pressure.  Isolation can also appear in other forms as I might feel unsupported or isolated in taking a nontraditional professional path.

I’ll always remember that I’m not alone in this journey; there are entrepreneurs just like me everywhere in the world facing problems every day.  Online I can find a lot of communities and forums where I can ask questions, read other experiences, and understand how other entrepreneurs managed to resolve their problems, and find inspiration and support.

Photo by Yan Krukov

Imposter Syndrome for entrepreneurs often suffer a form of fear that they will be exposed as frauds, as if they don’t belong there or that they’re not fully capable of achieving their goals.  Despite evidence of their competence, when we suffer from Imposter Syndrome we remain convinced that we are frauds and do not deserve what we have achieved. This leads to us mistakenly thinking that our success is attributed to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking we are more intelligent than we perceive ourselves to be.  In a similar way that I can misattribute my success to luck and that I can take too much blame for any failures.  This generates feelings of shame and disconnection, and discourages me from seeking help, which can lead me to depression.

Burnout or Overloading myself as an entrepreneur can easily fall into a in a never-not working mentality, forgoing opportunities for rest, fun, and connection, and causing me to become sleep deprived, over-caffeinated and emotionally disengaged.  The pressure can be overwhelming, as can be managing the emotions that come with it.  I know it is a skill we’re I can dig back in my military days on how I dealt with stress and continue to maintain throughout the journey, because the same way a rubber band breaks when its extended, we can break ourselves when those behaviors and feelings are not properly managed.  Burnout feels as if you had just completed three triathlons and can’t get up from the exhaustion mentally and physically.

If I’m experiencing distress, situations that are out of my control, or I just feel that my life is being negatively affected by my business, it’s extremely important to ask for help; don’t hesitate to seek out a mental health professional.

Photo by Daniel Reche

Health Concerns for all these feelings of stress, fear, anxiety, and depression can easily make me as an entrepreneur, avoid thoughts of sticking to a healthy diet or exercising daily and make priorities for the wellness of the company to be on top of their self-care and personal wellness. I’m sure new entrepreneurs often neglect their health by eating too much or too little, failing to exercise and less than what they need.

Being mindful in taking care of your body is your first line of defense against emotional distress; the connection between the mind and the body is strong and reciprocal.  When I have a nasty cold I feel unmotivated, distracted, and irritable, my body drags my mood down.  In a similar manner when I suffer from one or more of the described feelings, my body can begin to break down, and it can take a severe toll on our health.

Building a company brings with it a lot of hardships to endure, problems to solve, feelings to manage, behaviors to avoid, risks to mitigate, and other things that are not listed here.  But I know not to worry, overcoming them is not an impossible task.  It’s highly recognize that I identify and understand them before I take a negative impact on my life.  With this, how can I better manage and control my stressors?