The slow economy has been taking a toll on many Canadian entrepreneurs, creating increased stress for business owners.
In a recent BDC survey, 61 per cent of entrepreneurs allocated a score of seven out of 10 to their perceived stress levels, a significant jump from last year.
The survey of members of BDC's ViewPoints online panel of entrepreneurs found that respondents attributed their stress to a series of factors, including:
- Dealing with financial insecurity (71 per cent)
- Handling the pressure of building a business (52 per cent)
- Being the only person responsible for the business (51 per cent)
- Spending a huge amount of time at work (38 per cent)
Being aware of personal stress is an important step in managing and mitigating the negative effects, says Michael Campbell, a researcher at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a non-profit global provider of executive education. Once people figure out what's stressing them out, he says, they can take steps to better manage the situation.
Here are 10 stress management strategies for entrepreneurs recommended by experts:
- Pay attention to your body's stress signals It's important to recognize signals like sweating and increased heart rate and get them under control. This could involve simple, deep-breathing exercises.
- Deal with the stress head on Rather than procrastinate, think about what is causing the emotional reaction and get a handle on it. Deal with the cause of stress right away, whether it's a phone call from an angry client or making a difficult business decision.
- Take systematic breaks When you feel stress coming on, get up and do something else such as taking a brief walk or going outside. This short break can give you a different perspective on a stressful situation and at least provide short-term relief from the physical effects of stress.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle Getting 30 minutes of rigorous exercise at least three times a week can help you reduce stress. Good eating habits such as including more fruits and vegetables in your diet can give you more energy and help you handle stress better.
- Try to achieve work/life balance Although today's business environment can be demanding, it's crucial to take time for other activities outside of the office such as family events, hobbies and sports. This is when you recharge your batteries.
- Keep perfectionism in check Offering a quality product and service doesn't mean obsessing about it. Know when to get a task off your desk and focus on doing your best in a competitive environment.
- Delegate to reduce your workload Accept that you can't do it all. Rather than micro-managing, pay special attention to delegating responsibility to employees and leaving them alone to do the job. Sharing the load can relieve stress.
- Find people you trust and confide in them Talking to others about business issues can help you find solutions to deal with challenges. Entrepreneurs can also network with other people in their industries to see how they are handling similar issues.
- Get your financial situation under control in your business Cash flow is a major source of anxiety for entrepreneurs. Find ways to better monitor your revenues and expenses. Also, find ways to improve productivity and ultimately your company's financial health.
- Commit to vacation time Give yourself time off to relax, particularly during challenging periods. For example, turn your BlackBerry off when you're on a holiday. Postponing a vacation may have short-term benefits for your business but in the long run, your health could suffer and cause greater problems down the road.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. BDC provides entrepreneurs with financing, venture capital and consulting services. To find out more go to BDC.ca.