This valentines day show yourself some love 💕
As a small business owner, I’m sure you know that weighted feeling of letting
things slowly creep and get on top of you, and consequently affect your mental well-being.
As solo business owners, we don’t always have colleagues we can distribute work to or someone we can lean on for help. Trying to do it all can lead to our own mental and additionally physical malnourishment, which can affect our business.
You are not alone: I wanted to write this blog as I know this feeling all too well.
This blog post comes from a personal place: as a big advocate for mental health, and as someone who has struggled with mental health, this topic is extremely close to my heart.
As I’ve got older, I’ve really learnt the value in Joyce Sunada’s words; “make time for your wellness, otherwise, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness”.
So to help you learn from my life lessons, I want to share my strategies to help you avoid mental and physical malnourishment...
Keep Yourself In Check
Keep your business and personal life separate, both at work and away from work.
📱 Keep business off of your personal phone
It’s so easy to be swept back up into work mode after seeing a comment on socials or being notified of an email whilst you’re supposed to be having some personal time.
Does this sound like you?: You could be having a nice day off with the kids or catching up with a friend, but the notification instantly reminds you of work and instantly you feel obligated to respond.
Keeping work off your phone, either by only being able to access it through your laptop, or a separate work phone can help you keep these boundaries.
📈 Have a ‘weekend’
We all need a break.
Whether you can take it at the weekend or in the week, you must get some downtime on the days your business needs you the least.
Time away not only reduces your risk of burnout but can recharge your creativity and productivity too. Win-Win!
✍️ Avoid Goals
Okay, I know that is a bit of a bold statement, but let me explain:
We have targets, and so many goals for our business’s growth that we can become very tunnel-visioned.
It’s important to do things just because you enjoy it, not just because you are trying to achieve something.
In business we put pressure on ourselves to achieve things, we don’t need to be adding any unnecessary stress by doing this in our personal lives too.
I can be quite a competitive person, especially with myself, so I need to have activities that I do just for fun where I cannot measure success.
This could be embroidery, taking a walk, going for coffee, or even simply taking a bath. It’s good to have something that you don’t view as a project. It helps with the separation from work.
🧁 Have All Of The Treats
Rewards are great, right?
We all love treating ourselves for hitting our milestones and having a luxury can be a motivational incentive.
However, it's crucial to remember that you can have treats without achieving things: You don’t always have to earn them.
You can celebrate with nice experiences, without having reached that goal yet.
Let’s rewrite the “I don’t deserve this treat because I haven’t reached my goal” narrative, and enjoy treats as often as we can.
💻 Count The Achievements
Realise and recognise your progress, even if it’s the small wins.
Despite my previous advice, it is still important to acknowledge your achievements.
Personally, I use a little jar: I write down my achievements on a bit of paper and put them in the jar. These act as reinforcements to prove to myself that I am not a failure and that I can do it! – these are such big pick-me-ups when I’ve had a bad day or I am full of imposter syndrome.
Remind yourself that you have overcome challenges and you can win.
🏋️ Look After Your Body
Beyond the general “have a healthy lifestyle” advice, that we all know we should be doing and recognise its importance, we also need to look after our assets.
As a graphic designer, my assets are; my eyes, my spine, and my wrists. I put these parts of my body under strain through the nature of my job, so it is important I take the time to look after them properly.
So, I go to regular optical appointments, wear blue light filters in my glasses, and I exercise regularly to keep my spine in check.
This will look different for everyone, but as my mother always says; “you’re only as old as your spine, if you take care of it, it’ll take care of you”.
What Is Keeping You Up At Night?
We’ve all been there. There are always things that will worry us and niggle away at us.
Here are some of the common ones:
Some businesses will legally be required to have business insurance, but even yours does not, it’s never a bad thing to get.
If you’re worried about being sued - even though it’s probably likely that it won’t happen and it’s just one of those worst case scenarios that haunt our nightmares - getting insurance can put your mind at ease.
Insurance will also cover you for things such as; damage, theft, loss of income, and lawsuits. What’s not to like?
If things are getting too on top of you, remember you can ask for help. Employ someone or hire a freelancer to help you with something to reduce your workload.
They can help with things like; photography, graphic designing (hi!), copywriters, and bookkeeping.
Remember: You don’t have to wait till you feel weighed down before you can ask for help.
If you’re worried about your future, and as an entrepreneur or sole trader, you don’t have a pension, then you can get a private pension. I wholeheartedly recommend Penfold.
Penfold is a really flexible pension provider which can give me peace of mind about my future. You can choose and pause your contributions, and know that when you do pay; you are caring for your future.
Also, Penfold gives referred customers, £25 credit: Penfold | Workplace Auto-Enrolment & Private Pension Provider so now’s a perfect time to give it a go.
🤕 Income Protection Insurance
This is great, especially if you get sick.
Unfortunately for me, I did not have this before my spout of illness last year, but now I would not risk not having it.
You can, as a sole trader, get sick pay on the actual amount that you earn (and not just the statutory sick pay!).
Is your worry on this list? It is worth the expense if it puts your mind a rest. Trust me.
You owe it to yourself and your business, to look after yourself. All that time you have invested is worth being well enough to enjoy your achievements.
I hope this blog helped you to not feel alone in the SME struggles, but give a bit of advice on the ways you might be able to ease some of the stresses.
Even if you aren’t in a period of stress, from one small business to another, I cannot recommend looking into outsourcing enough: Have a look in advance for a day when you might need it --even if you don’t think you will.
But remember, you are doing great!
You and your business have already come a long way since you first thought up the idea, and that is a huge victory!