5 ways to de-stress as an entrepreneur in 2019

A staggering 79% of UK SME business-owners feel lonely running their business according to a recent study on pressure and wellbeing for entrepreneurs. This worsens to 82% for sole-founded businesses and sole-traders. As a result, 71% are reporting frequent sleep issues, and the lack of emotional support as a business owner is leaving 4 out of 5 feeling overwhelmed. Is it any wonder then, that we’re desperate to find ways to make running a business less stressful? 

The reason we feel the pressure more than your average senior-leader in a paid-job is complex. There’s the obvious stuff like the financial instability, risk and lack of resource; but it is the pressure of decision-making and lack of support that drives that sense of loneliness. Furthermore, we all tend to link our own identify and sense of self-worth on the success of the business. Talk about piling on the pressure. 

Despite all this though, we are not deterred! 93% of those surveyed are glad they are an entrepreneur, with 91% driven by passion for making a difference. The focus then is on getting a healthier balance and improving wellbeing whilst driving the business forwards.

 

  1. It’s time to invest in the biggest asset in the business

Entrepreneurship demands us to bring our A-game every single day. I think it’s most like being a pro athlete - just think about the demands on them to perform again and again in uncertain environments, all whilst pushing their bodies to perform for hours and hours. It’s the same for entrepreneurs! 

But consider for a second just how much support athletes have: coaches, physios, conditioning coaches, nutritionists and even psychologists, all to keep up peak performance. What do we have? Nothing. Yet we still place comparable performance demands on ourselves without investing in ourselves. The first step then is acknowledging that to get the best out of ourselves – the greatest asset in the business – it is worth making small changes to keep us at our peak.

 

  1. Take a moment to breathe

This is not as ethereal as it might at first sound. As entrepreneurs we tend to have pretty brutal schedules; constantly running from one task or meeting to the next with no time to reflect on what’s best or otherwise. In short, our bodies are operating in fight or flight mode and that does not allow us to make good decisions. Why? Because in this mode all the fuel of the body gets shifted awayfrom our brains (to our legs and heart so we can run away from lions – obviously!). 

So what can we do? It’s not like our busy schedules can change – we still have a business to run after all - so the solution needs to be quick and easy. The answer is so easy to add to your day. When you change task, take just 1-2 minutes to focus on deep breathing (where you breathe into your belly and focus on your breath). This activates your parasympathetic nervous system – the bit that allows you to be calm and think. We all know we get great ideas in the shower. What we’re doing here is creating that ‘in-the-shower’ brain clarity at multiple points in the day. If you don’t believe me just try it a few times a day. Do it as you walk, on the loo, as you make tea – I don’t mind but try it. You’ll soon find you feel more in control and able to tackle the next task or meeting with renewed energy.

 

  1. Let the power of peers drive performance

It's easy to start believing you're the only one struggling with a challenge as a business owner – it’s not like you can talk to your team about money-worries and those in jobs just don’t seem to ‘get it’. Having no-one to bounce ideas off starts to fuel self-doubt and slows down decision-making considerably.

In the survey, 90% of founders felt that knowing other entrepreneurs have been through a similar challenge really helps them feel less alone. That’s why we created 3Sixty Circles– peer-to-peer groups focused on upskilling as a leader and peer problem-solving at pace. Talking to other founders immediately removes the sense of loneliness and drives personal performance through faster, more informed decisions.

 

  1. Accountability = productivity

I can’t mention peers without also highlighting accountability because this is the golden-ticket to a focused, prioritised working style. We all know that the to-do lists are never-ending. Most of the time we just try our best to churn through as much as we can. But by agreeing focused goals with someone else, we find it much easier to take stuff off the to-do list that doesn’t contribute to those bigger goals.  

Furthermore, we’re much more likely to complete the task if we make a commitment to someone else too. Goal completion goes up to a65% chance if you commit to another person, and an impressive 95% if we agree a deadline with that person too. Needless to say, we also include goals and accountability in our peer-Circles too!

 

  1. Try multi-tasking with business and exercise

We all know multi-tasking at your desk doesn’t actually work (your brain just jumps between tasks losing efficiency along the way), but we’ve found a way to multi-task the right way. Even short bursts of exercise are clinically proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol, so it is crucial for peak performance in the office. 

We all struggle to fit exercise into the busy start-up schedule though, so that’s why we created FitFounders– group runs and yoga with other business owners - to squeeze in some much-needed movement whilst gaining invaluable ideas and advice from others who have invariably been there too. 

 

Written by Christina Richardson, co-founder of social-impact initiative 3Sixty(weare3Sixty.org) - a social-impact initiative on a mission to fuel founders to thrive, not just survive, on the rollercoaster of start-up life with practical training, events and unique peer-to-peer Circles