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Small Business Stress Management Tips during COVID19


Stress can be a serious challenge for anyone with a small business. There are always ups and downs and very often you need to focus on dozens of tasks, projects, and details at once. Right now, we’re experiencing especially challenging times with COVID-19. Many small businesses have been compelled to temporarily shut down or significantly cut back on their hours and offerings. How do you manage stress for yourself and your employees in the face of such realities? Let’s look at some stress management strategies to help you keep your equilibrium no matter what is happening around you.

Recognise the Warning Signs of Stress

A certain amount of stress is normal whether you’re a business owner, an employee, a student, or retiree. Stress is part of life and, to some extent, can even be stimulating. However, you need to be mindful when stress interferes with your ability to function. Here are a few signs to look for.

  • Difficulty sleeping. You may lie awake at night worrying about your business.
  • Mood swings, frequent irritability or feelings of sadness.
  • Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or excessive food.
  • Difficulty relating to your family and friends. Perhaps you’re so wrapped up in your business that you never have time for anyone else.
  • Frequently feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, or confused.
  • Physical symptoms such as palpitations, upset stomach, and tension headaches. If you have physical symptoms you should consult with a medical professional to determine if the cause is stress or something else.

Stress Management Strategies

Here are some small business stress management tips that apply at all times but are especially relevant now.

  • Set priorities – Stress is often related to feeling overwhelmed and a feeling that you don’t have enough time. Rather than rushing to put out one fire after another, make a list of priorities. Focus on completing the tasks that are truly essential at the moment. Outsource and delegate when possible.
  • Take care of your health and well-being You want to stay mentally as well as physically healthy. Eat nutritious food and make sure you’re not overeating in response to stress. Exercise every day even if this just means taking a walk. Get sufficient rest.
  • Disengage regularly – Take breaks, not only from business-related tasks but also from your phone and social media. Disengaging helps you maintain a certain perspective and helps you reset.
  • Stay connected with friends and family – While it’s good to disengage, it’s equally important to connect. You need to find the right balance. Even during this period of social distancing, you can reach out and engage with people who are important to you. Phones, email, Skype, Zoom, and other tools make this easy.

COVID-19 and Stress

When coping with stress, COVID-19 is a special category. While this health crisis is affecting everyone worldwide, it’s causing special issues for many small businesses. In some cases, lockdowns and quarantines may be threatening the very survival of your business. Let’s look at some ways to deal with this unusual variety of stress so many are facing right now.

Stay Informed

Keep up with the latest news, not only about the COVID-19 situation itself but also regarding resources that might be helpful. For example, Australia’s banks recently announced coronavirus relief for small businesses which involves a six-month postponement of payments.

Be Agile and Adaptable

The old adage that crises can bring opportunity is often valid. Sometimes the best way to alleviate stress is to adapt to current circumstances and find new business models.

  • If you’re not able to run your business as you normally can, consider limited hours and services. Depending on current regulations and your type of business, you may be able to stay open for certain hours rather than shutting down completely. 
  • If you’re facing financial hardships like so many businesses currently are, negotiate with suppliers and lenders. Many companies, including banks and suppliers, are offering flexible terms during the current crisis. You may be able to defer certain payments.
  • If your business is closed to the public due to COVID-19, consider alternative ways to sell your goods and services. You may be able to sell online or offer a delivery service to local customers.

Do What You Can For Your Employees

Employees of small businesses are impacted just as much as owners. Keep in mind that your employees are each dealing with their own personal challenges, which may include health, family, and economic issues. See what you can do to make their situation as stable as possible.

  • Seek alternative tasks for your employees. This is in line with the above advice to seek alternative ways of doing business. For example, if you can’t stay open to the public, perhaps you can sell products or services online. In some cases, your employees may be able to perform a function in this new capacity.
  • Be honest and transparent. Don’t try to hide what’s going on from your employees as this will only increase their stress. If you’re uncertain about something (such as when you’ll be able to reopen), tell them you’ll give them updates as soon as you can.
  • You may be eligible for JobKeeper Payment, which provides financial assistance to help small businesses retain their employees during the crisis.
  • Reach out and let them know you care. Everyone is facing his or her own challenges right now. When you talk to your employees, whether in person, by phone, or through email, take a few extra minutes to ask about their personal situation and ask if there’s anything you can do to help. You may not always be able to help as much as you’d like. However, a sincere desire to assist provides a certain amount of comfort.

If you’re like many business owners, stress is not something new or unusual. There are countless stressful factors in running a business, including the typical entrepreneurship fatigue that often sets in from time to time. Today, however, we are facing an unprecedented situation that is testing everyone’s limits. You may not be able to predict the future or fix all of your business’s problems. You can, however, take a step back and do what you can to minimise stress for yourself and your employees. 

Nationwide Super provides superannuation solutions for small business owners and employees throughout Australia. To find out more about our services, please contact us. 

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