business owners

#13 - 3 Simple Steps for Managing Stress

How do you cope with stress?

Stress is common, but how entrepreneurs and business owners deal with it can vary; and sometimes it isn't coped with at all, until it is too late! Shulamit (Shula) Berlevtov is a social worker that works with busy women and businesswomen, offering support to help them manage and cope with stress. As Shula sees it, the problem is recognizing and dealing with stress before it gets too big.

 Businesswomen think there is something wrong with them because they feel some little thing (stress) has done them in. The first thing is to recognize that it is normal to feel this way. Secondly, realize that the effect of stress is cumulative. Think of stress like the weight limit on an elevator. The weight can build and build on an elevator, but eventually, if you surpass the weight limit, the elevator is going to break. You are the elevator and stress is the people – too much stress and you will break!

3 Simple Steps to Managing Stress

The irony is if you are in the elevator, you can’t see what is happening because everything that is happening is outside of the elevator – the cables start to fray, etc. Then when everything breaks you find yourself free falling and you don’t understand why you’re broken.

This is how stress works: it builds and builds, and unless you are paying attention it breaks you. If you don’t see stress coming you should be looking for signs, such as getting a short fuse or feeling constant exhaustion. Stress affects all bodily functions: mental health, emotional health, your respiratory system, your muscular skeletal system (body tension), digestion, heartburn, etc.  Stress affects the whole body.

Instead of living with the heartburn, etc. you should do something about it. Treat it like the “check engine” light in your car. You will be tempted to deal it later, but eventually that light could mean a larger problem.

So, what can we do in the moment?

As a businessperson, find a group or person who will put stress management on your regular agenda. Whether that is a mastermind group or a business coach – put stress management on your accountability list. Make a point of paying attention to the signals your body is giving you and then engage in stress reduction: discharge, soothe and nourish.

How to cope with stress

Discharge

To discharge is to release the built up energy in the body, which means moving. It does not necessarily mean working out, but just moving somehow. Identify your practice i.e. taking a walk, dancing to music, etc. You need to bring your awareness to this movement – don’t bring your stress with you.

Bring your attention inward and say to yourself that this is your stress reduction practice. If it’s a chore to do it will become stressful and will not be good for you. Make sure the movement is pleasurable for you.

Soothe

Soothing tells the nervous system that it doesn’t have to worry; and that it can relax. However you can’t just tell yourself to relax, your body responds to experience i.e., a hot bath or other calm, comfortable, soothing activity that will calm stress. This soothing activity is different for everyone. It is something that will make you say, “ahhhh.” And again you have to take the time to soothe yourself and find your calm. Commit to soothing your stress.

Nourish

Nourish has to do with feeding the nervous system the experiences it needs to thrive, such as joy, fun, inspiration, etc. For some people this means going to church, singing, playing with kids, reading a book or going to a good comedy show. Anything that makes you come out feeling enlivened. 

Find what works for you – you know what makes you feel good and you know what makes you feel that you’ve let steam off. If you don’t know, just bring an awareness to your feelings and you will quickly learn what your ideal stress reduction practice.

Stress is a part of being an entrepreneur (and a person!) but if you find the right techniques to release the stress the build up won't be such a problem. Leave a comment and let me know how you will discharge, soothe and nourish this week!

Resources & Links

Stress relief with breath and movement ebook and video

Shula's website

Join the Free Facebook Biz Studio Community

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#12 – When Saying No is Right for your Business

Are you doing what you love? Does your business make you happy? If it isn’t then it may be time to change the way you run your business.

Today I am talking with Sam Hunter, a quilt pattern designer for the quilting industry. Quilting is a $4 billion dollar industry in the United States! Despite being associated as an activity for the elderly, quilting is a huge industry and Sam has capitalized on this with her designs. Sam joins me to discuss her experiences as a business owner and choosing the right projects for you. It’s all about doing what you want to be doing as opposed to doing what others (society) think you should be doing.

Why you should do what you love

When saying no is right for your business

Sam designs what she is passionate about because she believes the end result will be better. If a fabric company approaches her with a design and she tries to do it, i.e. table runners, she finds they don’t sell well. The fact that she isn’t committed in her heart to that work means they don’t sell well, so she only creates what turns her creativity on.

If you create a business with a lot of “poop sandwiches,” as writer Elizabeth Gilbert describes it, then it won’t sell well or do well because you are not going to give it your all; because your heart is not into it.

When you love what you do, you do it better

It’s easier to promote, sell and do the day-to-day when you love what you do! With every creative job there is the behind the scenes stuff that you also need to do, i.e. a website, social media, etc. and you need to get good at it or hire out for it, but in order to do this you must love and believe in what you do. You need to know that doing what you love means creating systems and processes that allow you to focus on this.

After reading the book Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, Sam realized that when you’re in the business of doing your work, you are working on being more productive and efficient. Are you doing the right things in your business? Sometimes there are places in your business where you think “heck no,” but there are business reasons behind having to do whatever that thing is.

What is essential to your business?

In order to run a business that makes you happy, you need to protect your income stream, your body and your family and family relationships. Your body needs to come first in order to be able to do the rest.

Body and health

According to McKeown, our first asset is your body. Don’t work so hard that your body breaks down. Look at the decision processes for your business and think if it will stress you out, and if so, can you hire it out? Is it cost-effective? Does it support your health?

If you’re doing the wrong work your body will tell you through migraines, etc. It’s not all about having the time—it’s about whether or not it will exhaust you or cause you anxiety. If you are running at a level of busy that means you can’t maintain self-care then you will run out of steam. This doesn’t necessarily mean investing in yoga classes, but it could mean questioning what you are eating. Are you relying on take-out too often? Are there fruits and vegetables in your fridge?

Income stream

When it comes to your business tasks, you need to decide whether any of the things that must be done need to be done by you and if so can you hire that thing out. Outsourcing gives you back the time you need to do the things only you can do. You can outsource for graphic design, social media, bookkeeping, etc.

Family

It's simple - when was the last time you spent time with close friends and family - the people that nourish your soul?

Don’t do what you don’t want to do. Remember, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Another thing to think about is 'can you do your best work within the time allotted to you?' Doing it well doesn’t come with the hustle. Can you be proud of your work in this situation? Do work you love AND you’re proud of.

The fear of saying no

You can have a sustainable income by saying no because it gives you more room to say yes to the work you do want to do and that you’re good at. The polarization within our society that if you’re A then you’re not B… and if you’re A then you don’t like B… this isn’t true—there is room for all of us.

Just as there is room for other quilter designers there is a room for other people within your industry – only you can do what you do and everyone else can do the rest. Don’t play in the realm of scarcity. Believe there will always be people who like your work. If you play in the realm of scarcity, you will get scarcity.

Competition

When it comes to competition, be all that you can be, but swim in your own lane. Don’t look too much at others; keep them in mind, but don’t focus too much on them. Instead focus on yourself and what you do.

We will all have frustrating days, but love what you do. Sam loves the puzzle of what she does. She has her mission and system that keeps her on track, for example she doesn’t do kits because she doesn’t want to. By figuring out what she likes to do she stays on track and keeps her goals in mind. Just because you say no to something doesn’t mean it’s permanent… they can become possibilities down the road—if you want them to be. Your business is constantly evolving – just make sure it is the business you want and that everything happening in your business is for a reason.

Resources & Links

Sam Hunter's website: Hunter's Design Studio

Join the Free Facebook Community

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#1 - Three strategies to get the life and biz you want

Entrepreneurs often start their own business because they want freedom and flexibility, but so many of them quickly fall into overwhelm and frustration. Sound familiar?

As a certified business coach I enjoy working with entrepreneurs and small business owners. I help them find the support they need, and help them find the clarity and actions needed to reach their business goals.

On this first episode of my new Biz Studio podcast, I am introducing business owners to how I can help with mindset, marketing and sales, as well as find the right support. The Biz Podcast is going to be a mix of just me sharing my business tips and advice with you, as well as interviews with experts in their field that I know can help other business owners.

Three strategies to get the life and biz you want

On a regular basis I hear these concerns from business owners: they feel stuck, they feel overwhelmed or they don’t know if they should continue with their business.

If you want to feel good about yourself and your business start with these three things:

1) Know what you want your life to look like

If you don’t know what you want your life to look like then you don’t know what your business should look like. Design your business to fit in with the life you want. You need to be clear on what it is you want to do for yourself—do you want to work 2 to 5 hours a week? Or do you want to work 80 hours a week? There is room in the entrepreneurial space for both kinds of entrepreneurs; you just have to figure out which kind is best for you and your life.

How do you figure this out? Write it down. How many hours are you willing to work in a week? What about weekends and evenings? What about time off, including vacation time? This can vary a lot based on your business, and there is no right answer.

You want to figure out what your priories are and how that’s going to fit into your life. Do you need flexibility for your family? What about other commitments you may have, such as volunteering? Set it all out so it will help you better understand how much time you have to devote to your business.

I am not pretending you can make $1 million working four hours a week. You need to think about the base amount you need to make in order for you to be okay. And then think about money for extra things, such as vacations, hiring a housecleaner, etc.? 

This is all part of figuring out what you want your life to look like. Your thinking and your business plan must align and writing it all out is the best way to figure this out.

Not sure how to get started? I have a worksheet that will allow you to write this all down and map it out.

2) Make concrete plans

This may sound obvious, but here’s the thing: many of us have these great plans that are stuck in our head, but not many of us write them down.

Having ideas is great, but these ideas need to be on paper to make them concrete. This can be on computer or in a journal, they just needs to be out of your head.

3) Find community

I have been an entrepreneur for 10 years… but I did it alone for many of those years. Talk to other business owners to figure out what is a good (and bad) idea, etc. Entrepreneurs are busy people, but they need a community to bounce ideas off of or hold them accountable. Whether it is a free online community, mastermind group or local in-person networking group, a supportive community of like-minded people can make a big difference in your business.

A community can help you not feel alone and offer valuable business tips and ideas. It will help normalize many of the concerns and struggles you may be having as a business owner. It will also help you see things about your business that you may not have otherwise noticed.

There are so many things business owners should consider when running a business. It may feel like a never-ending race on a hamster wheel, and you know there are lots to prioritize. This is why I started The Biz Studio podcast: to help fellow business owners stay in control, offer support and share resources and tips I know will help.

Make sure to grab your free download from today’s podcast and subscribe to hear more informative podcast episodes of The Biz Studio podcast.

Resources & Links

Free Planning Worksheet

The Biz Studio FREE Online Community

Subscribe on Stitcher

Subscribe on iTunes

Podcast Contest

As this new podcast gets off the ground, I’d really love your help to make sure that it gets in front of the right people. The first weeks of a podcast’s life are the most important in terms of the opportunities for iTunes to showcase you to other listeners. Because of that, I’m starting out this new podcast with a bang. There are 3 episodes available for you right now, and there will be at least two more episodes every week for the remainder of the eight weeks.

I thought I’d find some extra ways to thank you for all the sharing and supporting you do of the new podcast so every week until July 15th I’m going to be giving away one of my favourite business books to one person who either:

  • subscribe to the podcast or leave a review on iTunes; or
     
  • share the podcast on social media; or
     
  • come in to the Biz Studio and post your favourite tip from a specific episode (along with a link to that episode)

In all cases, you need to make sure that I either know who you are (email me a screen capture of the review or showing you are subscribed) or that the posts on social media are public and tag me (@larawellman) or the Biz Studio (on Facebook you can tag my page).

Each week I’ll be announcing the book winner on Wednesdays on my Facebook page

Some of the books I’ll be giving away are (I’ll be adding more titles soon):

  • The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
  • It Starts with Why by Simon Synek
  • How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields
  • E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

So get out there and start sharing your reviews and sharing the podcast and good luck. AND THANK YOU!