Some say the very start of a business venture is the toughest time to get through. Once you’ve got over the initial hurdles, it should be smooth sailing, right? But many will find that scaling a business – increasing capital, growing the team, expanding to new markets – can seriously put us, and our mental health, to test.
There’s a plethora of resources on starting a business to guide you through the process with your sanity intact. What can be overlooked, are the ups and downs of what’s to follow.
So, how to minimise stress when growing a business?
Communication is key
A growing business often means a growing team. And with added people, there will be added personalities, viewpoints, working styles… Often, some level of friction will be unavoidable. Constructive conflict can even be healthy, and it can help us to move forward happier and stronger than before.
When thinking about where most of our inter-personal problems stem from, the root issue often boils down to communication. Good, effective, honest communication might be simple as a concept, but so complex to realise in practice. While maintaining open communication in a team can be challenging, it’s the basic premise for a healthy work environment. The kind that supports not tests our mental wellbeing.
To improve workplace communication, common tips include:
- Being an engaged listener;
- Avoiding negative body language;
- Taking a break when a conversation gets tense;
- Being mindful of the non-verbal cues from others;
- Assuming others mean well unless they clearly state otherwise;
- Compromising when possible;
- Taking things with humour.
Lift off some weight
It’s great to handle things on your own, but we must also not shy away from getting help when help is needed.
Firstly, it’s important to understand our limits, and to respect these. Keeping a healthy work-life balance is vital for our well-being and can even help us be more productive during the workday. A Mental Health Foundation survey found that working long hours makes more than a quarter of employees feel depressed (27%), one-third feel anxious (34%), and more than half feel irritable (58%).
Since taking time off for personal life is so important, setting limits to ourselves is key. Hiring proper help can relieve some of the pressure and help with keeping work hours under control. For example, hiring a photographer to take product photos, or getting an accountant to take care of the books instead of stressing over this yourself.
Have a backup
Secondly, help is also needed in managing the risks of your business. Scenarios of something going wrong can bring countless worries. Having a backup plan can give you the peace of mind that whatever happens, you’ll be okay.
That’s why having insurance is so important – even if you don’t plan on doing anything particularly risky. A guide on small business insurance points out that even if a liability claim against your small business is unfounded and you’ve done nothing wrong, getting sued will still cost you. “You’ll still need to hire experts and a legal team to defend your business—which can cost thousands and thousands of pounds,” the article states. Having insurance helps you breathe more calmly in the event of your own mistakes, but also other people’s.
At the end of the day, we can’t avoid all stress, of course. It’s a question of minimising stress, and choosing your battles. Improving workplace communication, keeping a work-life balance, delegating some responsibilities, and having insurance for backup are some ways to make life as a business owner a little bit easier.