There are many reasons people decide to start their own business: to be your own boss, set your own hours, control the people and projects you work with. Yet the reality of business ownership isn’t quite as rosy—it’s one of the most stressful endeavors you’ll ever undertake.
While running your own company will inevitably have its maddening moments, some of the biggest stressors can be successfully managed if you know how to approach them. Here are three of the most unnerving parts of owning any business and how to handle them like a champ.
LACK OF PREDICTABILITY
You’d think that running your own business would mean you’re in control of everything, with no one else telling you what to do, how to do it, or when to do it. And you’d be right—mostly. Paradoxically, by going it alone, you’re in control of everything and nothing at the same time.
With a steady 9-5 gig, you can pretty much 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 out the window.
Dealing with inconsistent income can be a huge stressor, as you never know if you’re going to be able to pay your bills. What’s more, it’s often the case that if you’re not working, the business is not functioning, making things like days off and vacations seem like a fantasy.
The Fix: Before launching a business, it’s crucial to have enough clients to ensure a fairly stable income. So it’s a good idea to keep your day job to pay the bills, while building a stable of regular projects on the side. Of course, there’s no guarantee that any clients will stick around forever, so it’s also prudent to set aside several months’ worth of savings to get you through the lean times.
And though it may be impossible to do in the 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 the driver’s seat.
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.
Time management is arguably the most important skill for business owners to master, as not having enough time to handle key tasks will freak you out and wreck your business at the same time. It’s 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 kind of does).
The Fix: The first step to budgeting your time is to establish your top priorities and then set aside blocks of time each day/week/month strictly dedicated to those tasks. Focus on these items first and fit everything else in around them.
It’s also crucial to figure out the times of day you’re most productive and schedule your top tasks during these periods. Some people like to handle the most challenging items first, but others find their groove later in the day, so pay attention to your own energy and build your schedule around it.
NO WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Even if you’re one of those people who “live for their work,” if you don’t devote enough time to rest and relaxation both your work and life will suffer. Ironically, many people launch 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 being healthy and happy. Running a business can take a toll on your mental and physical health, and if you don’t find a proper balance, it can lead to literally fatal outcomes.
The Fix: One of the first steps to 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 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 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.
One great way to reduce stress is to implement systems that allow you to streamline your day-to-day operations. As your Family Business Lawyer®, we offer a wealth of turnkey solutions that will give you maximum control over your business—and your mental health. What’s more, we’ll guide you through those tough decisions, so you can rest easy knowing you’ve done everything to ensure your company is as secure and successful as possible.