Worries can take a heavy physical and mental toll
For some of us, November can be a particularly gloomy month when the days get shorter and temperatures drop. It’s easy to feel down and blue at this time of year.
Entrepreneurs can be particularly hard hit by stress, given their heavy workload, pressure to succeed and the high stakes associated with owning a business. This month’s letter looks at what you can do to better manage stress and, generally, improve how you feel about the business you run.
Entrepreneurship is uniquely challenging and stressful
Based on Statistics Canada data, a third of all new businesses are no longer open after five years. After 10 years that number jumps to 50%.
Those stats indicate how much risk is involved in becoming an entrepreneur. So, it’s no surprise that three quarters of entrepreneurs say they deal with a high degree of stress at work, according to a recent survey of about 500 business owners conducted by the Canadian Metal Health Association (CMHA). Financial insecurity and social and professional isolation top the list of factors contributing to high stress.
What you can do to cope
The CMHA study identifies common coping strategies that entrepreneurs have adopted at work to deal with stress. Strategies included delegating tasks to others, making more intuitive decisions and motivating employees to take on more responsibility. Some entrepreneurs also said that they developed a stronger sense of purpose and became more persistent about getting work done, to deal with high stress levels. For more information on the relationship between persistence, perseverance and success check out this TED Talk by Angela Duckworth.
A number of studies have demonstrated that higher rates of job satisfaction are also correlated with lower stress levels. A recent BDC study showed a strong link between entrepreneurs’ level of satisfaction with their work and their managerial and technical skills.
Based on a survey of about 1,000 business owners, the BDC study found that unsatisfied entrepreneurs were much more likely to have lower managerial and technical skill scores. The data suggests that entrepreneurs may have an easier time dealing with tasks that they feel most comfortable with and feel adequately equipped to perform.
Invest in your skills
A key recommendation of the BDC study was to invest in your skills. Here are some ideas about how entrepreneurs can invest in their skills:
- Look into programs at colleges and universities designed for business owners. These courses typically focus on fundamental business skills and are tailored to fit the schedules of busy entrepreneurs.
- Inquire with your local chambers of commerce and other business organizations. They offer courses, seminars and networking events where participants can meet others facing similar challenges and learn from them.
- Investigate online courses which facilitate learning at your own pace. BDC’s Entrepreneur’s Learning Centre offers free courses on topics like financing your business, financial management and operational efficiency.
- Seek out a business coach. A coach is typically a successful entrepreneur or corporate executive with significant experience. A coach can provide advice and ensure you identify and focus on tasks that will yield big improvements to business, and consequently, your stress levels.
You are a key part of your business’s success. You need to be healthy in order to succeed. Make time to think about what you could do differently to better manage stress and improve your mental and physical health.