There are numerous advantages to running your own business: being your own boss, setting your own hours, and the ability to decide who you work with and what you work on. However, business ownership can also be one of the most stressful endeavors you’ll ever undertake in your life.
While running your own company will inevitably have its maddening moments, some of the major stressors can be successfully managed if you know how to effectively deal with them. Here are three of the most unnerving parts of owning your own business, and how to handle them like a pro.
1. The Stressor: Lack Of Predictability
Paradoxically, when you go into business for yourself, you’re in control of everything and nothing both at the same time.
With a steady 9-5 gig, you can count on consistent paychecks, predictable hours, a stable office location, and even regular vacations. But when you’re your own boss, consistency and predictability go right out the window.
Dealing with inconsistent income can be a major stressor in handling expenses. Not only that, but it’s often the case that if you’re not working, the business is not functioning. Days off and vacations seem like a fantasy.
The Solution: While you can never eliminate the unpredictability of your income when you have a business, what you can and should do is calculate at a base level, exactly how much money you will need and how many clients or customers you will need to hit your financial goals.
By establishing clear goals based in the reality of your need, you will be able to keep your time, energy, and attention focused on taking the actions necessary to hit your goals, rather than waste those resources worrying about what you need to be doing on any given day, week, or month.
We support our business owner clients with a review and update of their financial needs regularly, and then we help them look at whether their business is structured to meet their financial needs. We call this Money Mapping. Contact us if you’d like to discuss how we can help you here.
2. The Stressor: Not Having Enough Time
Unpredictability and time management go hand-in-hand. Without a structured and enforced schedule to adhere to, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the day-to-day minutiae that comes with running a business. As Stephen Covey reminds us, it’s so easy to get caught up in the urgent matters, and forget the important matters.
Time management is the most important skill for business owners to master. It is vital to establish an effective way to budget your time and then stick to a schedule as if your life depended on it (since it actually does).
The Solution: Become the boss of your calendar. For scheduling, we favor a process of time management called “time blocking,” based in our Money Map process. We’d be happy to teach it to you, as it’s the number-one tool we use to get so much done, and do it in a way that allows us to love our lives and our business, too.
Here’s a taste…
Turn time on its head and prioritize self-care and family time first. Do this by making a list of all of the self-care items that are vital to your health and well-being, and how much time you desire to allocate to them on a weekly and monthly basis. Then, make a list of all of the time you desire to spend with family each day and week. Block all of those times off on your calendar first.
Then, block time for your top business priorities, including time for administration or leadership of your team, time for sales, time for marketing, time for continuing education, and of course, and finally… time to serve.
And though it may be impossible to do in the very beginning, make hiring a robust support staff a top priority, so you can eventually take time off when planned—or unplanned—events require you to step away from your business.
By doing this, you’ll likely discover that you have much less time to serve than you thought when you initially priced your services (if you are in a service-based business), and may need to raise your fees. By professionalizing your business, you can do this. Contact us for support.
3. The Stressor: No Work/Life Balance
Ironically, many people start their own business specifically to have more time for themselves, but once you see what’s actually involved, you’ll often find the business is the one who owns you—not the other way around.
Having an effective work/life balance is the key not only to being effective at your job, but also staying healthy and happy. Running a business can take a toll on your mental and physical health like nothing else, and if you don’t find a proper balance, it can lead to literally fatal outcomes.
The Solution: One of the first steps to finding work/life balance is to set realistic work hours and adhere to them just like any other job. When you work from home or don’t have a regular office, it’s easy to let “work time” eat into your “me time,” until all you have is “work time.”
Consider personal time just like your other top business priorities—set aside blocks of time for it, and stick to that schedule religiously. In addition to scheduling time to spend with your family and friends, also make time for rejuvenating self-care activities like exercise, meditation, hobbies, and other things (don’t forget sleep) that allow you to relax and recharge your batteries. Rather than seeing these things as distractions from work, you’ll ultimately find they’re essential for maximizing performance and productivity.
Finally, another way to reduce stress is to implement effective business systems that streamline your day-to-day operations. As your Family Business Lawyer™, we offer a number of turnkey solutions to give you maximum control over your business—and your mental health. What’s more, we will guide you through your toughest decisions, so you can rest easy knowing you’ve done everything to ensure your company is as secure and successful as possible.
Don’t Forget Your Foundation
Running a business also involves setting up the proper legal, insurance, financial, and tax (LIFT) systems, which form your company’s foundation and support your goals and objectives.
One of our primary missions is to help small business owners put these cornerstone systems in place, providing your company with an unshakable foundation. This assessment will highlight the gaps in your current LIFT foundation that need the most attention. From there, we can conduct a more thorough audit and implement the full LIFT Foundation System and Toolkit.
To see how stable your LIFT foundation is right now, contact us, your Family Business Lawyer™ to take our free LIFT 20-Point Assessment.
This article is a service of Stafford Law Firm, Family Business Lawyer™. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.