It’s too easy to confuse doing with thinking in small business, and that’s probably why, when our business causes us to feel anxious, it feels like working harder will ease the worry. That might provide relief in the short-term but eventually we risk ending up feeling stressed yet again. However, self-care is often at the bottom of an entrepreneur’s to-do list when times are hectic. We’re a pragmatic bunch – if there’s no practical or immediate economic return we’re not likely to turn to upping our self-care when the business has become our stress trigger. I’ve been there. I get it. Today, I’m going to share with you five tips that you can do that might help with your wellbeing and provide some practical business growth tips.
1. Learn about the thing that keeps you awake at night
If lack of funds is keeping you awake, ask your bookkeeper to teach you how to do a cash-flow forecast. If you can’t access a bookkeeper (or accountant), take time out to learn how via this website or this YouTube video. If you’re worried about sales, learn how to sell. Notice people around you who seem to enjoy selling and ask them their secret. Develop a list and write down the traits you admire in them so you can practice them yourself. Competence paired with confidence is a resilience builder that also delivers practical business results.
2. Establish an emergency savings account.
Having a cash buffer, no matter how small initially, is a powerful sleeping pill. I’ve met business owners who have moved 10% of every sale made into a savings account; others keep a GST account to know they can pay their BAS when due (not for other spending though!) Putting something aside regularly is another confidence builder and reminder that your efforts are materialising.
3. Ask customers to pay their bills
When I send an invoice out nowadays I have a line on the bottom of my template that explains I am a small business and dependent on timely payment of invoices. I prefer to highlight my sole-trader status so that people relate to the person in the business and not just the ABN. Prompt payment is as important as getting a sale. If someone is late paying an invoice I am quick to follow up and ask for payment. Late payments is at chronic levels for small business in Australia and the Australian Small Business Family Enterprise Ombudsman is shining a spotlight on the problem right now so asking for timely payment is not pushy, it’s polite!
4. Make time to plan
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? I’m a big advocate of developing a growth plan and setting targets. I don’t mean cumbersome business proposals that gather dust in a drawer and are only shared with the bank. I mean having a weekly dashboard that sets out your sales targets for the week, your receivables target and your social media activities. Forecasts and focus provide for forward thinking. Forward thinking is a positive psychology habit. Planning business activities fosters creative and positive thinking – key resilience skills for business owners.
5. Refresh, revisit, restart
Feel stuck? Go for a walk. Feel lost? Talk to someone. Feel discouraged? Turn off your electronics and take a break. Use your solopreneur time to your advantage – be your own boss! If you can’t think clearly at 3pm, walk the dog instead and work at another time. We know that one of the key reasons people love working for themselves is the flexible nature of the job. However, we risk eroding that if the job becomes stressful. In fact, times of high stress are often the best times to practice flexibility. Make sure, however, that isn’t mistaken for longer working hours. It means exchanging working hours – not extending them!
Do you have any other practical tips you adopt in your business that also help you to feel good at work? Share them here so we can all be inspired to work well.