There are 2 types of business stress.
Good business stress keeps you moving, inspires creativity and brings you that light-bulb moment in the middle of the night (or in the shower if you are like me). It’s the buzz of being so busy that you’re just teetering on the edge of controlled chaos, where you have so many great ideas and opportunities that your stress is about how to possibly implement them all.
And then there is bad business stress.
That feeling in your stomach where the stress wave washes over you and moves up into your throat. The heaviness on your shoulders, the fuzziness in your head, no ability to concentrate. This occurs when things are not going well over an extended period of time. Maybe trade is slow, cash flow non-existent, you need to deliver difficult news to an employee, or your expected busy season didn’t come.
I have experienced both types of stress in the past; thankfully these days it’s the good one I see more often.
Over time, I have spoken at length to others who have also experienced bad business stress. There are some common threads within these conversations.
1. You are not the only one. Yep, I get it. You feel embarrassed, a failure.
“That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Guess what? That’s exactly how everyone in the same situation feels. It’s a bit like talking about depression or less than perfect parenting – you’re never sure when to talk about it – but when you do, suddenly you realise that either, you’re not the only one, or everybody knows somebody in a similar situation. Almost everyone in your business network will have a story of a tough time, so get talking. They may just have some terrific survival tips, and you will no longer feel alone.
2. Stress impairs your vision. Can’t see the forest for the trees?
“We see things not as they are, but as we are.” – H. M. Tomlinson
In this situation, it is very difficult to step back and see the big picture or to make educated, strategic decisions. Stress can often affect your memory and will emotionally drain you; leaving you looking only at the next day or week, not your overall outcome. Be aware of this, and in times of high stress, have someone who’s opinion you trust available to talk to. Let them lay it all out logically. Even if their best advice is not really the information you want to hear, you will feel better – I promise.
3. Passion is not a guarantee for easy business. It just helps a lots.
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” – Benjamin Franklin
Don’t let passion get in the way of logic. There are a lot of very passionate people who have had bad business experiences. From poor results to complete closure. We hear daily “the secret to success is passion”, well I don’t agree. Passion is just one part of the success recipe, mixed with ingredients like great support, solid market research, a great business plan, integrity and self belief. If you are very passionate about what you do and your business is still not performing, have a look at the other ingredients to see what’s missing.
4. It won’t last forever. No really, it won’t.
“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.” – E. Joseph Cossman
When you are under an immense amount of business stress, a day feels like a week, a week feels like a month. This will pass. It may come when you finally replace the toxic employee who is bringing the team down, when you ride out that sales slump, or when you are able see what is just not working and begin to amend it. Even if you find yourself closing or selling your business, this is still closure to the end of this stress period. The emotional end does take a while to show its face, but it will, and you will start to regain clarity.
5. No one is talking about you. Well some are, but they’re the crappy ones.
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
The most common message I hear when discussing businesses that are not performing well, is “I bet everyone is talking about me/it/us” . Think about this – you are only an interesting conversation for a very brief period of time before being replaced by someone else. Surround yourself with positive people who have your best interests at heart. (I also use this as a positive business manifestation mantra – it works a treat for me).
6. Honesty and integrity IS the most important value. But you already know that right?
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In tough times, when everything around you feels like it’s gone to shit, make sure you can look in the mirror and know you are looking back at someone doing their best. Always know that regardless of your business outcome, you behave ethically and treat others with dignity and respect.
Tough Cookie Marketing provides marketing solutions to hospitality and service based businesses. Contact Kathie at firstname.lastname@example.org today for a chat about how Tough Cookie Marketing can help you to become a small business Superhero.
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