As small business owners, it’s very easy to neglect yourself and keep pushing yourself to keep going. There is a lot riding on the success of your business and sometimes this is such a driver that you forget about looking after yourself. However, this can’t continue indefinitely as you will eventually be made to stop – maybe by illness or exhaustion.
In the same way, sometimes you are so involved in the day-to-day running of your business that you forget to look after the financial health of your business. This becomes even more of an issue if things go wrong, which then becomes an added stress on your own health.
So make today the day you put yourself first and take the first steps to self-care – for you and your business.
Tips for staying healthy
Luckily there are things that you can easily incorporate into your routine that can help you and your health
1.Take regular breaks
I know it’s tempting to just crack on when you have a big list. However, you might start off raring to go but this can wane quickly if you’re too tired. I frequently work flat out first thing in the morning as I find this is the best time of day for me, but then I often take either my current business book I’m reading or a blog to write to my local café. As soon as I’m out of my office and on my way, I start to feel better. It surprises me every time how cathartic it is! Maybe you could have a break by just walking in your garden or local park. As long as it’s not raining, of course! Having said that, a bit of rain can sometimes be refreshing – just don’t forget your umbrella!
2.Take a Walk
I am lucky in the fact that I live close to Walsall Arboretum so I either walk or run first thing in the morning and then walk in the afternoon. It sets me up for the day. Anything I’m pondering about will usually become clear and I start work with focus and motivation.
Could you build a regular walk into your schedule? It doesn’t have to be massive, just an opportunity to reenergise yourself.
I find it’s a good idea to have a glass of water by me as I work. I’m more likely to notice if I’m drinking enough water or not. If it’s still full after an hour or two, I drink and refill it. You can even buy drinking cups with markers of times of the day so you know how much you should drink within that hour. It’s important that it’s only water – even herbal teas don’t keep you as hydrated as you need to be. It’s surprising how much better I feel when I drink plenty of water. Do you do this? If not, I’d recommend trying it. You don’t have to drink loads but drinking water regularly definitely helps with your wellbeing.
As soon as stress or tiredness hit it’s easy to raid the biscuit barrel or go and buy some chocolate or your favourite treat. The problem with this, as nice as it is at the time, is it’s short-lived! Maybe think ahead about what healthy snacks and lunches you can have during the day. With a lot of people still working from home, in some ways having the right food in is easier but nevertheless planning is needed! Buying plenty of fruit, vegetables and salad means that you’re more likely to prepare something nutritious for your lunch as you haven’t got to go and buy it. If you’re working from home, you’re also not tempted by those shops you pass on your way home.
Tips for managing stress
Sometimes stress creeps up on you without you noticing. You’ve put the tiredness, irritability, and/or low mood down to working hard or just accepted it as how you generally feel. Taking some small steps can make a big difference to your stress levels. Obviously, the ones I’ve mentioned already will be helpful but here are some more:
1.Plan your week
If you are super busy, then I always find having a plan helps. I tend to have a plan for the week broken down into days and in it I prioritise what needs to be done first. In this plan, I’ll include all meetings and Zooms and be aware of giving myself breaks. For example, I fit my swim in at some point during the week.
Knowing where you spend (and sometimes waste) time is important. I’ve worked for myself for 19 years now and I’ve always kept a note of the hours I work on a daily basis. Earlier this year I kept a note throughout the day showing how I spend my time. It’s surprising what I noticed with where my time was going. For example, it’s easy to spend time on social media or checking emails. I had a reminder of this a couple of weeks ago when I was staying at my friend’s. Her broadband was down. Initially I thought, I’m not going to be able to work, but then I said to myself, “This is how you used to work so you can do it”. We definitely get too reliant on technology! Anyway, the first day I really noticed the difference as I reviewed several tax returns and did some content writing for an event. I definitely felt a lot calmer without the temptation of checking on what had come into my inbox or what was happening on social media. Maybe you could try it? Start the day by working on something other than your emails. If I look at my emails regularly, as I usually do, I find it stops my train of thought.
3.Time away from the screen
As I said earlier when I mentioned going for a walk, this hasn’t got to be anything major. Maybe just a walk around your home – or office if you’re working onsite. Sometimes I just have a walk in my garden or put the washing out. It’s surprising how refreshed I feel when I start back to work.
I find being quiet when I work essential to my wellbeing. I think I’ve worked at home for so long now I expect my working environment to be quiet. One of the last times I was employed I worked initially in an open plan office which was incredibly noisy. Maybe this is reminiscent of where you work? If it is, I’d recommend grabbing yourself some quiet time during the day. I used to go for a walk around the local market where I worked near St Paul’s Cathedral, London. For me, this was an essential part of my day.
I find meditation very valuable. You haven’t got to spend a lot of time doing it – 10-15 minutes is ample. The main thing is to meditate regularly; daily if possible. It may take time to get into it, but keep going as I find it so beneficial. I started meditating about 20 years ago when I was living and working in London. I went to a workshop one evening and even though we were only trying to meditate for 10 minutes, I struggled to clear my mind. I kept thinking, ‘When I go home, I need to make the soup’ I kept saying to myself, ‘Stop thinking about the soup!’ I got there in the end and now find it a very valuable and important part of my day.
6.Ask for help
Remember, it’s ok to ask for help; you haven’t got to do this on your own. You may have things on your list that have been there for ages that you don’t know how to tackle. I’d recommend thinking of who can help you. I know I always feel better once I’ve cleared things off my list!
Overwhelm is a terrible feeling and if you don’t delegate enough then this is unavoidable. I know sometimes it’s easy to think it will be quicker if you just do it yourself, but you’re missing the point! Training someone now will mean in future they can do it and it will take the pressure off you. Maybe give it a go?
Managing the financial side of your business
As a small business owner, another thing to fit in is keeping all the financial side of the business running smoothly. This is imperative for a successful business, but it sometimes gets overlooked when business owners are too busy running their business. Then it can contribute to your own health.
Here are some ways you can help yourself:
1.Have a financial plan
This needs to include your goals for the next year and five years. It doesn’t need to be complicated; one page is fine. It just needs to include specific information:
- Business goals
- Predicted turnover and profit
- Exit strategy
- Growth plans
- Pricing strategy
More about this in a few weeks!
Have a budget for both you and your business. This will follow on nicely from getting a financial plan in place. For a budget to be worthwhile it needs to be a working document that you keep up to date – at least monthly. Include all of your expenditure in your business and personal budgets. Sometimes it can be surprising how much expenditure there is that you hadn’t thought about! The secret to success of a budget is sticking to it. It’s no use preparing it and thinking, ‘That’s great that I’ve done that!’ and then put it in a drawer!
3.Chase debtors regularly
In order to have good cashflow in your business it’s crucial that you keep a careful watch over your debtors. I know chasing doesn’t appeal to most people, but it’s got to be done at least weekly. Maybe this is something that you delegate. I remember being out on an audit in Birmingham years ago and hearing one of the ladies chasing debtors. She was great at it – a perfect mix of chatty but firm. They never had a high amount of debtors in that company!
Your business financial system is important.
- Is your system clear?
- Does it work in the way you want it to?
- Does your financial software work?
- Are you happy with it or do you need training?
Asking yourself these questions and getting them resolved will make a big difference to your stress levels!
5.Have a good relationship with you accountant
It surprises me how many business owners still haven’t got a good relationship with their accountant. In fact, I wrote a book about how to manage your relationship with your accountant, called Accountants Don’t Bite. I’m frequently asked questions by people that should be directed at their own accountant, but they don’t want to do that. They’re worried about being told off, laughed at, ignored – you name it, and I’ve heard it! Remember your accountant works for you and you should be able to communicate with them and ask them questions. You need to be financially savvy with your figures and if you can’t rely on your accountant for support, this isn’t going to happen! Speaking of which, I wrote a book on that too!
If you need any help with understanding your finances, why not book a FREE Discovery Call.
I’ve outlined many ways you can look after yourself. It’s important to do this sooner rather than later so why not start today!
Anna Goodwin @2023 All Rights Reserved.