Being your own boss sounds like a dream; the flexibility to work when you want, escaping from office politics, and even working in your pyjamas if you want to, and it can be.
But if you decide to go it alone, it can come as a bit of a culture shock. Leaving the security of a salary and suddenly having to make all the decisions can be daunting. Here are some of the pressures and challenges faced by people running businesses:
Giving up financial security
Walking away from a permanent job, salary, and other benefits can be scary. But, the benefits of being your own boss can outweigh the risks. When you’re just starting off, you might be able to start your business on the side, but if you want your business to grow, eventually you’ll have to give up the day job.
Financing your business
If you’re just starting out, you’re likely to need to gather information on possible funding options for your business, and then start working hard on building a network of contacts.
Coping with uncertainty
When you start your own business, you’ll have many concerns. Will your business be profitable? Will you be able to pay yourself a salary? When you don’t have a steady wage to fall back on, and everything else is in a constant state of change, uncertainty is an unpleasant fact.
The idea of running your own business might be attractive, but will you have the drive, belief, and determination to keep going through the tough times?
Lack of time
When you start your own business, you’ll soon come to realise that there aren’t nearly enough hours in the day. You’ll likely spend long hours working in the business and on the business, and that’s on top of trying to maintain a family life and social life.
Being afraid of failure
The idea of being self-employed can be attractive, but there will be inevitable challenges along the way. Don’t let mistakes or bad luck deter you from following your dream, if you want it enough. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
If you need to hire staff, it can be a minefield. You need to pick people who are the right fit for your business, and consider how much it will cost to hire them.
Being a business owner can be quite lonely, especially if you’re a sole trader. You might be working lots of hours when you first start your business, so you might not see family and friends as often.
How to reduce stress when running your own business
Don’t let your thoughts stress you out: What you tell yourself is true. If you tell yourself that you’re going to lose customers or that you’re going to fail, all it does is stresses you out. Don’t let irrational thoughts defeat you before you even start, concentrate on the facts.
Accept what you can and can’t control: Once you understand that you can’t control everything that happens in your business, you’ll feel more at ease. But there are things you can control, like taking time out to do things you enjoy or making sure that you finish working early on at least a few nights per week.
Make time to relax: Stress damages your immune system, and it can seriously affect your mental and physical health. Make time to do things you enjoy; you’ll be more relaxed, and your business will benefit.
Use mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness helps you to notice and accept your thoughts, without judgment. It also helps you to relax, so you will be able to choose not to react emotionally to things. This will put you in a far better position to fully enjoy, and immerse yourself in running your business.
Maureen O’Callaghan is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute, and has an MSc in Mindfulness-Based Approaches. She works with organisations, teams, and individuals to create less stressful working environments, improve team working, enhance performance and productivity and develop leadership and management skills.