As a small business owner, you are used to being the first on the job, the last to leave, and wearing multiple hats, from janitorial and marketing to accounting. You also bear the responsibility for employees’ livelihoods and growing your business. Especially now, small business owners are feeling the burden of that weight on their shoulders.
You may not think you have the time to step back and take care of yourself during a crisis, but your business, employees and customers are counting on you to keep a cool head. Our equipment financing team can’t control external stressors, but we can offer tips for managing stress, and perhaps finding time for you to take much-needed down time. Here are some ideas…
1. Keep a reasonable work schedule.
Business owners launch their startups expecting to spend a great deal of time on their businesses. The entrepreneurial mind doesn’t shut off at 5:00 p.m. Or, even 2:00 a.m. It doesn’t necessarily distinguish between workdays, weekends and vacation time (if there’s time for vacation).
But working or thinking about your business non-stop is counterproductive. There are long-term and short-term strategic decisions to make and tactical, daily operations to manage. In the early stages of a business, you may be responsible for most if not all of these. As your business grows, employees can take tasks off your plate. At any stage, recognize that you are less effective when rushed, stressed and tired.
Set a work schedule that prioritizes tasks which result in new business, whether that’s making sales calls or finding a lease financing provider to obtain equipment that grows revenue. Set and keep boundaries whenever possible to give you free time to recharge, which leads to a better mental balance and better decision making. Divide your days or weeks into blocks with time designated to working on the business, working in the business and handling unexpected matters. It won’t always be possible to follow your schedule, but often, you’ll have time left to focus on your well-being.
2. Use organization tools that work for you and sync with each other.
One stressor you can control is juggling and keeping track of time and tasks. There are tools on the market that do this beautifully and sync with one another to give you an overview of your schedule at any given moment.
At minimum, consider using a calendar, a contact manager, a task list, a notes area and email—Outlook is a popular program that offers all of these in one, and it can be accessed from any device. Outlook works on Windows and Mac systems, but if you’re using the Mac OS, Calendars, Contacts, Reminders and Mail work similarly and sync together.
Customer relationship management (CRM) and financial management tools help keep sales and accounting organized. Some CRMs offer free versions up to so many contacts, which can give you a good start without a big investment. Some banks offer financial management tools with their business accounts. Choose one that is user friendly and can grow with your business, so that you won’t have to worry about selecting another down the road when you outgrow it.
3. Leave “breathing” time in your day, every day.
No matter how busy you are, always leave blocks of time open on your daily calendar. Back-to-back appointments and tasks leave no room for handling unexpected events or issues that are sure to arise. Plus, having no breathing time on your schedule is a stressful way to start the week or day. Giving yourself a few minutes or an hour at the beginning or end of each day means you can prioritize better. It’s a relief when you can say, “I have time to handle that later.”
4. Work toward life balance, not working 24/7.
Like food, oxygen and water, you require down time. Small business owners often put their personal and family lives aside for their businesses. It makes sense because their personal and family lives can hinge on having a successful business to support life and legacy. However, not taking time for yourself means you’re unable to give all you can to your business, much less yourself and family.
Burn out is real. Physically and mentally, you cannot give 100 percent to your business 100 percent of the time. When you allow yourself a guilt-free break, you’ll find you’re able to be more productive on the work side of life. There is more to life than working hard, and “hard worker” is not what most people want on their grave stone or the only way their family and friends describe them. Of course, there will be exceptions, but physically AND mentally leave the office.
5. Choose people and vendors you can trust.
Hire people you can trust to do their jobs. Partner with vendors who see your business relationship with them as a true partnership in supporting your business. You cannot possibly do everything your business requires to run smoothly. Delegation is the only way to ensure your company moves forward without your hand in everything. There is certainly a sense of relief felt when you delegate a task to someone and know it will be completed well and on time.
You are an expert on your business. Vendors are experts in their industries. Choose vendors you know are smarter than you and let them help you make sound decisions. It requires trust, so get recommendations from people you respect. Challenges will arise, but knowing you’ve put together a team of employees and vendors who you can count on makes dealing with problems far less stressful.
No, the Global Financial & Leasing Services (GFLS) team is not psychologists, but we’ve partnered with hundreds of small business owners since 2009. Our team has become their trusted partner when it comes to equipment financing. We take the stress of financing equipment leases off their shoulders with best-in-class, personal service and a streamlined application process, even when their credit is less than perfect. We’re a small business and we understand small business. Talk to us about how we can make equipment lease financing easier for, so you can focus on other important matters.