With Christmas and the New Year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your work-life balance after spending some well-earned time off with your family and friends – especially after the time business owners have had over the last 18 months or so. 

Running a business is stressful at the best of times, never mind during a global pandemic. Whether you had to contend with lockdowns closing you down, grant applications or the stresses of working from home, it’s important to acknowledge how hard 2020 and 2021 have been.

And, to top it off, you didn’t have the usual outlets, from a trip to the cinema to a foreign break, to let off steam.

Businesses aren’t out of the woods yet, either. According to a survey by the Institute of Directors, 42% of business owners said the pandemic is still having a negative impact on their organisation – although this is down from around 75% in January 2021.

Meanwhile, 22% said they were neither optimistic or pessimistic about the future of their organisation, while 15% said they were either quite or very pessimistic. 

So, as we continue down the tightrope towards business and economic recovery, how can you manage the stress that comes with running a business?

Step back – recognise what’s going well

Sometimes, it can feel like the world’s caving in. Not enough clients, poor cashflow, unreliable suppliers – there are so many things that could possibly go wrong.

But, when you take a moment and think about it, are you sure that everything’s going badly? Usually, you’ll see some things are going well (especially seeing how you’ve made it through the worst of the pandemic’s economic downturn).

Taking stock of things that have gone well helps you put into perspective what you’ve achieved and where you’ve come from.

Plus, it’s more likely to put you into a positive mindset, which is a great motivator and sometimes, motivation can be a great cure against stress.

That’s because looking at what’s going well is good for your organisation – it’s also an integral part of any good business plan. 

But most importantly, being able to identify what’s working gives you a feeling of control and shows how it’s you that has been running the business, not the other way around.

Build a solid schedule

Reminding yourself of your achievements has its uses, but it’s not going to get you away from all the hard work left to go.

For instance, opening a shop is a huge achievement, but it requires a lot of work to keep it open. We’re not naïve to that.

So, build a solid schedule and prioritise your work so you can get the more difficult tasks over and done with, letting you ‘relax’ with easier work as you go through the day.

And, although it’s difficult to do this when you’re just starting out in business, get used to saying no to extra busywork if you can’t take it on. 

It’s one of the easiest ways to fall into the stress trap, but one that’s so much easier to fall in if you haven’t planned your time effectively.

Crucially, you should also include personal downtime in your work schedule. It’s easy to skip a lunch break or come into work six days a week, but if you wouldn’t expect an employee to do this, why are you expecting it from yourself?

Remember: you’re not alone

Not only will you probably have friends and family to support you and perhaps even help you out with an aspect of your business, but professionals who can take on some of your work.

First, there are your employees (if you have any) who you can delegate tasks to. A mistake some business owners make is doing all the small, repetitive tasks themselves, but this just eats up their time and causes more stress when they realise they don’t have the time for more complicated tasks.

It’s difficult to give up control when you’re used to being the boss, but you simply can’t do it all by yourself.

If you don’t have employees, perhaps because you can’t afford the labour costs, consider outsourcing some of your work to a freelancer, such as your social media marketing.

And, because we’re talking about mediating stress, consider speaking with an accountant who can take care of your tax and accounting needs, too. 

At James Scott, we’re more than just compliance workers, though, as we’re also financial and business experts who can advise you on the range of problems you’ll come across on your journey.

From business planning and payroll to accounting services and tax strategising, we might just be what you need to get through an especially stressful spell.

Talk to us about your business.