Small steps to protecting your biggest asset – your mind

When you run a business, the buck stops with you. That’s freedom – but it can also be stressful, particularly when you hit a roadblock.

The key is finding balance to counter the stresses of business ownership and restore your inner drive.

Effective counters include exercise, finding a confidant and taking positive actions. Here are some of the ways Australian experts and entrepreneurs stay at their best.

Find a confidant or mentor

Running a small business can be isolating. You’re often making all the important decisions and juggling a to-do list that never ends.

“Owners are the ones taking on all of the risk and responsibility and we may lose everything,” says Diane Tompson, managing director of Tasmanian manufacturer Powercom Group.

“That’s why you need networks outside work to discuss strategies and problems.”

She recommends finding a mentor or someone knowledgeable and sympathetic.

Tompson has a friend and confidant who runs a larger business. “I can say to her, ‘Oh God, I don’t know what to do’. She says ‘I had a similar problem and I fixed it like this.’ She’s brilliant. You’ve got to find people like this.”

Another way of beating the loneliness of leadership is to bring your team into the decision-making process.

“We have regular monthly meetings with each division where people can have input in decision making,” she says. “It shows you value their opinion. And you keep staff motivated and appreciated.”


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Look for positive actions

Does positive thinking work? Australian motivational speaker Chris Helder believes it can actually be counterproductive if that’s all you do.

“Positive thoughts take the place of action,” he says. “It’s better to find useful actions.”

“If you wake up and say ‘be positive’, by 10am you’ll be feeling worse about yourself because you’ll feel like you failed at being positive. It’s not sustainable.”

So how can you take action? Helder offers these steps.

First, with all the knowledge at your disposal about your specific situation – in life and business – , sit down and brainstorm several positive actions you can take.

Second, make sure any positive actions you decide to take are clear and targeted. For instance, he recommends finding out who your best customers or clients are – and who are those who are less useful to your business. You can then focus on building the first group.

Third is the hardest part: Execute your planned actions.

“Success comes down to people who execute. Move away from dreaming and thinking and into doing,” he says.

Positive actions can also be as simple as stepping back and analysing your current situation as if it’s happening to an acquaintance. It is often easier to see clearly with distance.

“Success comes down to people who execute.” – Chris Helder, Motivational Speaker.

Treat yourself right

If you’re under the pump, it’s easy to stop looking after yourself.

You might think exercise and a healthy diet can wait until after you’ve overcome the current challenges.

But looking after your body will directly help your mind and your mood.

“Running a business takes energy, passion and motivation,” says Kate Troup, founder of W8Less. “Good health is the foundation.”

Regular exercise is vital to re-energising yourself and boosting your creativity.

Exercise also gives your subconscious time to work on the problem, without your conscious mind getting in the way.

Swimming, running or cycling lifts you out of yourself and helps refresh your outlook.

To break out of a rut, try changing your daily routine. Even altering your commute or where you eat lunch can help you see your situation with fresh eyes.

And while you’re at it, make it a healthy lunch. Good nutrition helps you, body and mind.