Small business (SMB) owners are some of the most stressed out workers in the U.S. Not only do they feel the pressure of sustaining and growing their business, but SMB owners also currently face unprecedented business challenges from evolving sales channels to increasing tax complexities. With stress levels reaching new highs, it’s more important than ever for small business owners to take steps to control and reduce their stress. It’s good for owners and their business. Read on to see what’s at stake and how reducing stress can help you improve your business’s operations.
The impact of stress on your business
Failing to address the high-stress levels you feel as a small business owner can negatively impact your business. Your stress, and your employees’ stress, can cost your company 50 percent more in health insurance costs. Between 60 to 80 percent of workplace accidents are caused by stress and the American Psychological Association estimates that the U.S. economy loses more than $500 billion due to workplace stress.
Additionally, the serious health problems associated with stress (e.g., heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity and substance abuse) can take you out of commission, which could have a lasting, negative impact on your business.
Finally, succumbing to high levels of stress means you aren’t taking the time to think creatively about how to grow or adapt your business to shifts in consumer habits or the competitive landscape.
Productivity increases as stress decreases
When you take steps to decrease stress, your productivity increases and your business thrives. International studies have found that increased stress causes reduced productivity, while decreased stress levels lead to increased productivity. Reduced stress has halo effects – energetic and active individuals positively affect the productivity of those around them. This is especially important to business owners who are their company’s leaders and staff.
In addition to decreasing stress, a quick meditation session can immediately improve your decision-making and creative thinking. Large companies, including AOL and McKinsey & Co., have experienced increased sales performance as a result of meditation sessions introduced into the workday.
Stress relief tips from busy entrepreneurs
Michelle Gielan, a former national CBS News anchor and current University of Pennsylvania positive psychology researcher and best-selling author, suggests small business owners focus on completing small, meaningful tasks that can be done in short periods. A long to-do list can cause stress, and small, quick accomplishments will shorten your to-do list and make you feel better
Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey’s trick to managing stress is to compartmentalize tasks specific days of the week. Mondays are for meetings, Tuesdays are for developing products, Wednesdays are for marketing tasks, Thursdays are for networking and Fridays are for building company culture. On Saturday he can take a break, but it all starts again on Sunday, which is recruitment day. Dorsey says that rituals and consistency lessen stress. The military also believes in this theory and has established the concept of Battle Rhythm across every division and level.
Anthony Boldin, founder of FeedYourMind professional wellness blog, four-time nonprofit entrepreneur, and two-time business founder and owner, suggests slowing down and being more methodical. When you allow yourself to feel rushed or conduct tasks in a rushed manner, you feel more stressed and are more likely to make mistakes, only increasing your stress and troubles. He advises busy small business owners to focus on the immediate task at hand, not their to-do list and to take deep breaths to fight off the rushed feelings.
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos believes that work stress primarily comes from delaying action by focusing on the dread or challenge of that action. He encourages small business owners to spend less time worrying about the task and just to jump in and address it, or take the first step. Even if the task will take several steps, jumping in is progress, while dreading or worrying is procrastination and only increases stress.
Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, small business author, and former editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine, says that the key to reducing workplace stress is to say no. She encourages small business owners to drop the client or project causing them undue stress. She says businesses are almost always better off without the deadweight; let it go and feel an instant stress reduction.